Football: AUS, Québec (mostly Québec) might want out of interlock

Homer Simpson's word "crisertunity" comes to mind when reading Monty Mosher's article about the possible end of interlocking play between the two eastern-most conferences.

Here are the choice quotes put into context by Mr. Mosher:
"Some of the (Québec) institutions feel it's run its course. Sometimes at the end of the day you just call an end to something. I think travel is getting a little long in the tooth for some people."
— QUFL chairman Tom Allen

"We need to work on our own backyard in terms of the potential for expansion in Atlantic Canada ... I don’t think we’ve ever really worked with the (AUS) members to position it and present it properly. I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there in reference to football and cost."
— AUS president Phil Currie
The subtext is that both conferences are in better places than they were when they signed off on interlock in late 2001. Québec has gone from a four-team league that had just lost three teams to probably the best conference in the country. Allen told Mosher there is even talk of adopting a 10-game balanced schedule with home-and-home series between every team, which would create some very good content for Radio-Canada, its media partner.

The Atlantic region, as touched upon (however briefly) in this site's Mount Allison preview, is enjoying a boom in football which has not yet filtered up to the field. As a commenter on the dot-org noted, "Football has shown significant growth in Nova Scotia (now 17 high schools with teams) and there are, what, 16 (high school) programs in New Brunswick? That's 33 teams with an average of 40 kids = 1,320 football players. Surely a couple hundred of those could help stock a six-team AUS instead of four."

The economic times we are in means schools are going to have to get smarter with how they spend money on sports. Meantime, non-football-playing schools such as UNB, UPEI and Moncton have or are getting new stadiums. Halifax needs a new stadium like yesterday. Hypothetically, this could put Dalhousie into play (some Dal alums came very close to reviving football about a decade ago), as alien as the notion of Dal and Saint Mary's partnering might seem (kidding). As Currie notes, it could be more economical to travel to Moncton than Lennoxville.

The timing and tide might be right for the AUS to tend to its own backyard. As fans of CIS football, two desires are to see more meaningful competition between the top teams and to have more teams, period. A Mount Allison fan on also noted the relationship might have run its course: "I agree that the interlock should end. It hasn't been in AUS teams' interests, judging from the W-L stats, and speaking from the perspective of a small school with a limited budget and limited external support, it is a financial drain."

Point being, it might be at the point where the two no longer need each other as much. The AUS probably cannot do a re-return to the old days where a team could play four of its nine games against one opponent (which would happen more often since the league has a semi-final game, which it did not during the 1980s and '90s).

The bottom line is that if this divorce, so to speak, leads the AUS to work in earnest to expand, so much the better.

Future of football interlock murky (Monty Mosher, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Sept. 9)
No time for AUS to be complacent (Chris Cochrane, Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
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  1. With UNB Fredericton and UNB Saint John about to debut "club" football in a couple of weeks, as well as Moncton, and Dal talking of starting next year one can always hope that the club teams can grow into AUS teams.

    UNB Varsity Athletics is not adverse to AUS football, as long as it can be externally funded like the Laval model.

  2. Looks like good news for the continued growth of Canadian football.