The CFL draft is coming up [Jaime Stein,] this Sunday (noon Eastern, TSN). It's always an exciting time of the year, particularly from the perspective of watching CIS stars making the jump to the pros. To get you excited for it, here's an e-mail interview I just conducted with Shomari Williams, the Queen's defensive end who led the Gaels to the Vanier Cup this year and is ranked first overall by the CFL's scouting bureau. We talked about the CFL, CIS, the NCAA and his up-and-coming business helping recruits. My questions and his responses are below (slight edits for clarity).

Andrew Bucholtz: You've made a pretty meteoric rise up the CFL Scouting Bureau rankings, from #15 at the start of last season to #4 in December to #1 earlier this year. Do you pay any attention to the rankings, and if so, what did it feel like to take over the top spot?

Shomari Williams: It felt great being named the top prospect in Canada. I worked real hard all season and it was a great feeling to know that all my hard work paid off.

A.B.: With the draft coming up this weekend, there's a chance you could be selected first overall. Do you see the top spot as something special, the way it's usually viewed in the NFL, or does it not make as much of a difference in the CFL's smaller draft?

S.W.: I think this is a big deal. Even though the CFL is smaller than the NFL, only a select few people can ever say they were drafted and even fewer can say they were taken first overall. If I am picked first, it will be something special for me and my family to have my name in the record books as the number-one pick in the 2010 CFL draft.

A.B.: How do you feel about getting the chance to play in the CFL? Has it been something you've always been interested in, or a more recent goal?

S.W.: I feel truly blessed to have an opportunity to play in the CFL. When I first started college, I never had plans to play pro. My first goal was to get on the field and contribute to my team and go from there. As time went on in college, I started thinking about playing pro and coming back and going to Queen's really helped me in getting ready for a professional career.

A.B.: I understand you grew up in Brampton and then played in the NCAA at the University of Houston before coming to Queen's last year. Why did you choose that career path (high school to NCAA to CIS), and would you change anything if you had the chance to go back and do it again?

S.W.: Growing up, I just dreamed of playing in the NCAA. Watching it on TV made me fall in love with football in the States. Getting a scholarship and attending the University of Houston was a great experience for me. I graduated from Houston and I really wanted to play pro football, and I thought the best way to position myself for that was to come back and play for Queen's. I really don't like what-if scenarios, so I don't regret any of the choices I've made and I think all the experiences I've had has made me a better person.

A.B.: What did it mean to you to win the Vanier Cup in your only year of CIS football?

S.W.: Winning the Vanier made me feel like Carmelo Anthony! To come to a team for one year and have such a great season individually and team-wise, you couldn't ask for anything more. The 2010 Queen's Golden Gaels will go down in history as a championship team, and to be a part of that is something that I will never forget.

A.B.: How do NCAA and CIS football compare (calibre, coaching, atmosphere, practices, etc)? What did you like and dislike about each?

S.W.: Some things in the NCAA you can't compare to the CIS. It's just because the NCAA has so much money. The two things I think any football player is looking for when deciding on a program is the experience and the coaching. I had a wonderful experience and excellent coaching in my short time in the CIS and the playoff atmosphere was ridiculous too.

A.B.: Did you find it difficult to adapt to Canadian rules after your years in the NCAA? Which set of rules do you like better?

S.W.: To be honest, I barely noticed the rules. A few times, I lined up offside, but other than that, I really didn't notice the different rules.

A.B.: If you could change CIS however you wanted (at an organization-wide level, a football-wide level or just a Queen's level), what changes would you make?

S.W.: There are so many changes I think the CIS should implement to make the league better. To me, it has a great product, but we hear so little about it. I wish the CIS was run more like a business. To me, if the people involved had a greater stake in the success of the league, they would be more creative in how to expand and market the league.

A.B.: I understand you started Student Blitz (his recruiting business) in 2007. What gave you the idea, and how did you put it into practice? How many athletes have you worked with?

S.W.: Going through the recruiting process myself and seeing how much time and money it cost to send film to college coaches. I thought about ways to make the process more efficient for other players with time and money, so I created a database that allows you to send your film and athletic information to any NCAA coach. I've worked with about 15 athletes now and 70% of those athletes have received full scholarships, so I am happy with that.

A.B.: What are your future plans for the site?

S.W.: Right now, I am trying to get an investor and partner for the business so that he can run the day-to-day operations of the site. I am also excited about my new venture,, which should launch in May. This service will help high school athletes get recruited by CIS coaches.

Thanks to Shomari for taking the time to talk with me! Best of luck to him this Sunday. If you want to follow the draft, it will be televised on TSN starting at 12 p.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Pacific. I'll also be following the B.C. Lions' Den's crew's live blog; it should be an excellent source of draft coverage too. I'll hopefully have a post-draft summary up Sunday afternoon at both Sporting Madness and The CIS Blog.

[Cross-posted to Sporting Madness]
McGill has filled their vacancy behind the bench, and one has opened up at Laurier.

It was announced today that Kelly Nobes would be leaving the Golden Hawk program after four stellar seasons behind the bench, and would be taking his lengthy coaching pedigree over to his alma mater, McGill, where he served as an assistant coach after playing at the school.

The iron-fisted Nobes has made the playoffs every year he has been a head coach, now nine seasons in a row, and helped cement Laurier as a mainstay both at the top of the OUA and in the Top-10 in CIS.

He was behind the bench for the Golden Hawks run at a University Cup in 2006-07 which saw them come within a goal of going to the championship game. Laurier will be conducting a national search to fill their now vacant Head Coaching position.

Armchair coaches ... get your resumes ready.
Remember when Queen's lost its regular-season finale 25-13 to Laurier and dropped from No. 2 to No. 4 in the last Top 10 poll prior to the OUA playoffs? Gaels coach Pat Sheahan, in Belleville, Ont., to speak at sports dinner (defensive coordinator Pat Tracey attended high school in the Friendly City, as did defensive back-kick returner Jimmy Allin) had a colourful way of describing that game:
"Queen's was already guaranteed top seed in the OUA playoffs.

"'So, in the final regular season game against Wilfrid Laurier, at 7-and-0 and learning from last year, anybody with a bruise did not play in Week 8,' said Sheahan. 'And, even though we didn't want to tip-toe into the playoffs, sometimes a well-orchestrated loss can pay off.' "
Suffice to say, it worked out a lot better than the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry took a dive ("who wants to laugh?") in an effort to sabotage a hack comedian named Kenny Bania.

Putting on the Queen's hat, there was a sort of calm descending after that result. (I made a point to attend a Windsor-Ottawa game to eliminate the distraction.) Neither of the top two tailbacks, Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien, dressed, and there was a feeling afterward that they would be fine in the playoffs so long as the offence could convert in situations like, say, second-and-5 and third-and-1. It seemed like it worked out.

On a Queen's related-note, there is word defensive end Neil Puffer has earned a CFL free-agent shot with the Edmonton Eskimos. Unfortuanately, inside receiver Chris Ioannides will apparently not attend training camp with the B.C. Lions. Each player posted Facebook updates recently.

Queen's coach praises Belleville duo; Sheahan says Allin, Tracey instrumental in Vanier Cup victory(Paul Svoboda, Belleville Intelligencer)
The Toronto Argonauts are probably going to get the spotlight in coverage of the CFL Canadian college draft, since they're coming off a couple rough seasons and hold the Nos. 1, 8 and 11 picks. The Canadian Press noted there might be an argument for using the No. 1 overall pick on Guelph kicker-punter Rob Maver (cue the snark: Only the Argos would take a kicker a No. 1.).
"The rebuilding Argos ... have many needs to address in the draft and can't be guaranteed Maver would be available even at No. 8.

"That's because Calgary has the fifth overall selection and is in the enviable position of having a talented roster so it could use its first pick on a kicker. And then there's the possibility of Hamilton, whose first selection is at No. 12, making a deal to move up and take Maver.

"Toronto could remove all the guesswork by making CFL draft history and taking Maver first overall. Twice a kicker has gone No. 2 -- David Miller-Johnston to Toronto in 1997, Warren Kean to Edmonton in 2007 -- but neither lived up to expectations.
Allez Les Bleus ran a mock draft that had the Argonauts drafting Queen's linebacker Shomari Williams No. 1, which had better happen since it would be awesome for him, not because a Joe Fan Blogger speculated about it six weeks ago.

There is not much point in trying to out-TSN TSN with draft coverage on Sunday, but we'll probably try to find time on Sunday to evaluate how certain schools fared. Todd McShay, I am not.

Guelph's Maver can't wait for CFL Canadian college draft (The Canadian Press)
Argonauts still mulling draft choices (Chris Zelkovich, Toronto Star)
Very sad news out of St. Catharines. Vince Scott, who was the Brock Badgers' leading men's hockey scorer after playing his first two CIS seasons and UPEI, died after a car crash on Wednesday. He was 23.

The Erie Otters, whom Scott spent the majority of his Ontario Hockey League tenure with, announced the news via press release. There are no news reports yet on the St. Catharines Standard website.

The details, though, are less important than expressing condolences to Scott's family and friends.
No coach ever really resigns. Joe Raso, who built a fine program at McMaster, is the latest to depart rather abruptly.
"CHML News has learned that Joe Raso and the university parted ways today.

"Raso told CHML News, the school wants to go in another direction.

"Raso will return to his full-time job at St. Mary's Secondary in Hamilton."
Another direction can mean many, many things. There is no way, given that Raso just announced his recruiting class and has his son, guard Victor Raso, just going into his second season, that this could have been a coach's decision.

One theory (and it's just a theory) could be that Mac athletic director Jeff Giles wants to have a full-time men's hoops coach. Raso has a good job at St. Mary's Secondary School (and the pension that comes with it), so perhaps he did not fit into any such restructuring.

You could reasonably ask if that's an instance of being rigid in one's thinking. The arrangement with Raso certainly worked well.

A counter-point, given that Mac has gone a few seasons without a tournament trip. Giles might be thinking that the Marauders are at or near a point of diminishing returns with not having a full-time coach. Basketball is getting more competitive each season. A full-time coach might be the logical next step for a school which should be in the hunt for an OUA West title most seasons in light of its size, facilities and the strong basketball culture in Southern Ontario.

Raso is Hamilton and through and through, so one would wonder what it would take for him to coach another CIS program. He is set with a job at St. Mary's, where he built a powerhouse high school program from scratch before he was hired at McMaster in 1992. By any standard, he was a success at McMaster over an 18-year span, although a national title proved elusive, like it did for Dave DeAveiro at Ottawa. (Another common thread is each had a high-profile recruit who did not work out: Ryan Christie this season at Mac and former Syracuse guard Josh Wright in 2008-09 at Ottawa.)

Above all else, Raso rated better than an unceremonious exit in late April.

It will be hard to imagine the Marauders without Raso coaching. This is a stunner, for sure.

Between Joe Raso, Ottawa-turned-McGill coach DeAveiro and retiring York coach Bob Bain, more than six decades' experience has been taken out of OUA men's basketball.

Raso out as Mac basketball coach (Ted Michaels, AM 900 CHML)
Mac shows Raso the door; basketball coach's contract not renewed (Drew Edwards, Hamilton Spectator)
Put a math guy and a volleyball guy together and strange things happen.

The motivation for this was we don't cover volleyball enough, basically. The symbolism of our label counts is notable: as I write this, football has 673 posts, basketball 490, hockey 369, and then all the way down there at 42 is volleyball—behind the CFL (153) and not even half of the NCAA (91). And last I checked, this isn't called The NCAA Blog. (If it were, we'd be doing a lot more work.)

However, unfamiliarity with players is always an issue when you're trying to cover a nationwide league where games often aren't televised or webcasted. So resident volleyball nut Andrew Bucholtz and I spent a few hours one night hashing out a system for expressing a volleyball player's statistical contributions in terms of points and, ultimately, in terms of wins.

Many things volleyball players do are directly related to points, of course. A kill is by definition one point for their team, as is a block. An error is one point for the other team, so they should lose one point when they commit an error. But we need to consider the context: if the leaguewide hitting percentage is, say, .150, then one kill is worth just 0.85 points above what the average player would be expected to obtain (1 minus .150). This "above average" comparison is the foundation for these rankings, unimaginatively called the Bucholtz rankings in honour of their co-creator.

We established baseline rates for hitting percentage, blocks per set, and services aces per set for each conference and for each position. Adjustments by conference are required due to differences in level and style of play across the country: for example, the hitting percentage in Canada West was .182 last year, but just .159 in the OUA, an extremely significant difference. And we adjusted by position to account for the higher conversion rates for middles, whose attacks are often unsuspected (.219 hitting percentage nationwide) and who often record many more blocks than outsides (0.7 per set vs. 0.3). No positional adjustment was made with respect to service aces.

We should also point out that these rankings don't include digs or assists, so they aren't intended to evaluate setters or liberos, just middles and outside hitters. We've only looked at women's results so far, but the same methodology would easily apply to the men as well.

Take UBC's Liz Cordonier, this year's player of the year, as an example. Given her 527 attempts, we would expect her to have 77 kills minus errors, or a .146 hitting percentage. She actually had a .280 hitting percentage, meaning 148 kills minus errors. Thus, 148 minus 77 gives 71 points that Cordonier added above the average outside hitter in Canada West. We can do this for service aces (4 expected, 24 actual for Cordonier) and blocks (23 expected, 16 actual) and we find that she had a plus/minus of 84.5 points. To convert this to something more meaningful, we divided by 25 (points per set) and then by 3 (sets per match) to get unadjusted matches above average. Finally, we scaled the resulting numbers such that each team's total plus/minus for all of its players roughly added up to that team's record.

In the end, we are able to say Cordonier was worth 2.9 matches (or wins) above average, meaning if you took an average player off a 10-10 team and replaced her with Cordonier, you'd expect that team to go about 13-7. A +2.9 puts Cordonier 10th nationwide, and surprisingly third on her team: Kyla Richey (+3.0) and Jen Hinze (+3.1) both rank ahead. Tops in the country is Montreal's Nadine Alphonse (+4.9), with another Carabin at 17th in Laetitia Tchoualack (+2.3), the 2008 BLG Award winner.

The full women's rankings are here; note that anyone with very little playing time is considered average, because they didn't have enough time to contribute to their plus/minus. This isn't necessarily true, so take the results for anyone with less than 30 or 40 sets played with enough salt as you deem appropriate. Also note that the names are, for the most part, left as they were on the CIS site, so last names like "Vallee-V." and "St.georges" come with the territory.

The seven first-team all-Canadians were mostly at the top of these rankings: only Montreal's Alexandra Lojen (49th) and X's Catherine Thornton (105th) were out of the top 15. In Lojen's case, our decision to ignore assists hurts her, since the Montreal setter had nearly 600 of them. For Thornton, her lack of blocks keeps her down: only 0.12 per set, about one-third the baseline rate we compared her against. One could argue that it wasn't Thornton's job to block, but that's one of the issues we run into with a one-size-fits-all stat like this.

Questions are welcome in the comments below or by e-mail.
There's an interesting piece from Ian Hamilton in the Regina Leader-Post today. Hamilton talks to Regina Rams head coach Frank McCrystal and comes away with a couple of valuable notes. First, he addresses the new Canada West schedule. In the wake of SFU's departure, the conference is down to six teams, which could provide an opportunity to balance the schedule for everyone. That's something McCrystal would like to see.

"We put all this time and money and effort into the football program, so let's play more games," he told Hamilton. "We should be playing 10 games. We should be playing everybody twice."

This might be worth looking at. Currently, the conference plays eight regular-season games, and that hasn't changed thanks to SFU's departure. At the moment, the Rams get Saskatchewan, Calgary and Manitoba twice each, face UBC on the road and host Alberta. I'm not sure if that's "easily the toughest schedule in the CIS" as McCrystal calls it, but it is reasonably difficult; Saskatchewan and Calgary should both be strong, and a road game against UBC isn't easy thanks to the travel involved. Meanwhile, for example, UBC only plays Calgary once and Manitoba faces Saskatchewan once.

That's not saying the schedule is especially unfair; from this viewpoint, it looks like the schedulemakers did a pretty good job given the constraints of each team playing eight games in a six-team league. It's just that a eight-game schedule with five opponents is obviously going to give some teams an easier path. In a league where it looks like the competition for the third and fourth playoff spots might be particularly tough, that could make a difference.

The question is if a solution can be found, though. Eliminating the conference bye weekend (Oct 8-10) and scheduling a game there would provide one of the two extra games, but that would also kill the Shrum Bowl, which would be unfortunate. Even if the conference went that way, however, they'd still have to find a spot for an extra game. The playoffs are scheduled to start on November 6, and that can't be bumped any later without altering the entire CIS playoff schedule.

At the other end, the Canada West season is set to start September 3, which is alreay one of the earliest starts nationally. Last year, Canada West did play one regular-season game on August 29 (UBC-SFU) before starting up fully on September 4, so adding the last game on the last weekend in August might not be completely out of the question. Keep in mind that few students are around then, though, which would hurt attendance and game atmosphere. That weekend also traditionally sees out-of-conference exhibition games, which I would argue can help teams across CIS sports by exposing them to high levels of competition and different styles of play. If Canada West wanted to play 10 games but still keep those exhibitions going, they'd have to be bumped up to the second-to-last week in August, and that might be a difficult sell for university officials (more required of student-athletes, summer practices would probably have to start even earlier) and out-of-conference coaches (an exhibition game two weeks before your season starts might not be as helpful as the current practice of having one the week before, and it might also force you to start your own practices earlier).

On that note, the piece also mentions that "the Rams have been in touch with the Queen's Golden Gaels about a possible pre-season game." This would be interesting to see, as Queen's hasn't played a Canada West team in preseason competition in a while (they faced McGill in 2008 and U of T in 2009). However, the reigning Vanier Cup champions might be looking for a little more in an opponent than a Regina team that went 3-5 in the regular season last year and got knocked out in the first round of the Canada West playoffs. We'll see what happens there. On the schedule front, though, it would be nice to see balance, but it doesn't seem likely to happen without a radical consensus from Canada West coaches and administrators and possibly national changes as well.

[Cross-posted to Sporting Madness]
One of the side effects of SFU's decision to jump to NCAA Division II and UBC's subsequent decision to remain in CIS for the time being was the potential loss of CIS football's most storied games, the annual Shrum Bowl between the two teams. The Shrum Bowl has been contested 32 times over the years and always gets a fair bit of attention; everyone in the Lower Mainland knows about the UBC-SFU rivalry, and the annual football game has been one of its best expressions. Fortunately, as Howard Tsumura of The Province reports, that's going to continue for at least this year.

Oddly enough, SFU's switch to the NCAA both threatened and preserved this year's game. The two teams will no longer meet in Canada West competition, but the Clan's departure left Canada West with only six football teams and forced a conference-wide bye on the Oct. 8-10 weekend. During that bye, the game will be played under the Friday night lights at UBC's Thunderbird Stadium on Oct. 8.

The other interesting element of this is the changes in the rules. They go back to the days when UBC was in CIS and SFU was in the NAIA. The two schools would alternate hosting the game, and it would be played by Canadian rules at UBC and by American rules when SFU was hosting, giving it a unique atmosphere and feel. When SFU joined CIS, the Shrum Bowl was still important, but it was also just a league game (and one of the two the teams would play each year). Now, it's set to go back to a once-a-year event with alternating hosts and rules, and it will become much more unique again.

Of course, the scheduling issues might make this just a one-off. We don't know if Canada West will add more football teams or alter the schedule after this year, and the Division II Great Northern Athletic Conference might do the same thing. Either of those changes could kill the game for good. UBC might wind up jumping to the NCAA as well, which could let the game continue but turn it back into a regular league game. For now, though, the Shrum Bowl is alive and well, and back to the clash of countries it used to be. Let's hope it's able to continue in some form; it's a unique showcase for CIS football.

[Cross-posted to Sporting Madness]
It is more a news story than a sports story, even if the victim and the accused are both athletes, however it should be mentioned. Jeremy Botelho, a wide receiver and kick returner, is in deep, deep trouble:
"A source said Botelho, a former University of Manitoba Bisons receiver and highly touted football prospect who attended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp last year, surrendered to police Friday and faces a manslaughter charge. The charge indicates there is no evidence of an intent to kill.

" ... Bar owner Gilbert Gauthier said (18-year-old victim Kelly) Clay was standing near the dance floor when an older, larger male sucker-punched him from behind, striking him on the side of the head.

"Clay fell and struck his head on the tiled floor, Gauthier said."
There is not much else to add other than to wonder whether a court will show leniency. Obtaining reliable witness accounts from a bar altercation might be difficult. The Crown also has to weigh whether it's worth their time to go after the accused.

Bisons coach Brian Dobie said Botelho "left the Bisons on his own accord" several weeks ago.

Not much more to add, other than to note the odd coincidence my one-time colleague Chris Kitching's beat at the Winnipeg Sun overlapped with yours truly's on my final weekend in print journalism.

Former Bison charged with Nor-Villa death (Chris Kitching, Winnipeg Sun)
Granted, it's not like Laurier has nothing to worry about, since Waterloo is not the only school implicated in the steroid scandal. This has the feeling they are closing ranks:
"(Laurier athletic director Peter) Baxter's thrown his support behind the University of Waterloo’s administration, staff and students in the wake of the football scandal down the street.

"Last week, a UW player was charged with possession of steroids for the purpose of trafficking along with several counts of breaking and entering and possession of stolen property. Another UW player and a former teammate were also charged with multiple counts of breaking and entering and possession of stolen property.

"The arrests sent shockwaves through UW's administration offices and into the Ontario football conference.

"Baxter’s voice on the phone was one of the first UW's athletics director Bob Copeland heard after the cataclysmic news roared across the internet and into newspapers across the country.

" 'Peter's been a big help through this,' says Copeland."
UW's long road to hoe: Laurier football knows the way (Christine Rivet, Waterloo Region Record)
Outgoing Ottawa and McGill coach Dave DeAveiro stuck to the high road, but what he related to Wayne Kondro was exactly in line with what some people have said about Ottawa: the coaches are more administrators than, you know, coaches.
"DeAveiro said he found fundraising requirements time-consuming and onerous.

" 'I just kept hoping that, at some point, the school would put more money into our program and invest a little bit more in my future, in terms of having me stay here and wanting me here,' he said in an interview. 'I'm grateful because they gave me my opportunity and I don't want to sound like I'm slamming the university because that's not what I'm doing. I just got a better offer.'

" ... The current parameters of university support for athletic programs require that coaches fundraise monies to cover costs related to all exhibition games, travel to preseason tournaments and honorariums for assistant coaches, who generally receive $1,500 or less for time and effort expended during a season. Individual programs must also pay for facilities and support staff required for ancillary events like the annual Clint Dunning Invitational Tournament.

"Many members of the Gee-Gees coaching fraternity have privately complained that the financial arrangement puts them at a competitive disadvantage, a proposition rejected by director of sport services Luc Gélineau."
The comment thread would lead one to believe people will reject Gélineau's defence the situation is "very comparable" to other schools and not "unrealistic." That sounds like code for a common management technique of not allowing people to make comparisons to the outside world.

Believe you me, I saw it all the time in one of my previous journalistic iterations, and not unlike DeAveiro, the best recourse was to take a better offer.

Meantime, Kondro has a who's-who of potential candidates, including ...
  • Coaches with an Ottawa tie: Brad Campbell of Western, Shawn Swords of Laurentian (each was born in Ottawa);
  • In-house replacements: Gee-Gees assistant Emil O'Neil, Ottawa women's coach Andy Sparks;
  • Successful coaches in CIS and CCAA: Scott Morrison of Lakehead, Darrell Glenn of Humber College;
  • Current assistant coaches who are close by: Rob Smart of Carleton, Duncan Cowan of Queen's;
  • Former coaches: Keith Vassell, late of Brandon.
Have at it in the comments, folks.

'Better offer' behind McGill move: DeAveiro; Ex-U of O men's hoops coach discouraged by school's lack of investment in program (Wayne Kondro, Ottawa Citizen)
A couple OUA West basketball recruiting announcements:
  • Western has added hometowner Nathan Di Loreto from London's H.B. Beal, a 6-foot-2 guard-forward who won two city titles.

    Di Loreto joins a Mustangs incoming class that includes forwards Luke Braund and Peter Scholtes, plus a former D-1 player, 6-foot-8 forward Adam Jespersen (as noted here and here). Western's Brad Campbell has four starters back, including Ryan Barbeau at point guard.

  • The women's basketball Thunderwolves have added forward Lacey McNulty, a forward who played at Toledo.
Wolves name three court recruits
(press release)
The exodus of coaches continues at Ottawa: David DeAveiro is moving to McGill, meaning the Gee-Gees have lost the leaders of two flagship teams in less than two months.

DeAveiro will be attempting to turn around the Redmen, having already done so with the Gee-Gees, whom he transformed from one of the worst teams in the country to a contender which earned CIS tournament berths in 2005, '07 and '09. One has to wonder how Ottawa athletic director Luc Gélineau can rationalize letting DeAveiro, who presided over a perennial Top 10 men's basketball team, walk away weeks after Denis Piché stepped down from a perennial Top 10 football team.

(Of course, all of this is framed against considerably larger challenges facing the University of Ottawa, as noted in the comments and in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen by the awesome Randall Denley. However, sloughing off the small stuff doesn't help solve major issues.)

York is in the same boat with coaching changes, but its were understandable. Long-time Lions men's hoops coach Bob Bain retired after 37 years and the football team has lost 19 consecutive games. In Ottawa's case, it's had three productive coaches in mid-career, counting hockey coach Shelley Coolidge (now at Carleton), each leave in less than 12 months.

The question is no longer why, it's who, or more like who's next?

One always tries to have some regard for a coach's privacy with these matters, since it's not like we're talking about NCAA Division I coaches with seven-figure annual incomes. There were signs DeAveiro was looking for a change. He interviewed with Ryerson before it hired Roy Rana. Following the 2009 Final 8, I had someone call me who asked if I had noticed something odd after Ottawa's consolation-game win over Concordia. The Gee-Gees assembled for a team photo, but DeAveiro didn't join them even after the players waved him over.

The upshot is this is good for McGill and the QSSF, which is coming off a season where it got completely blanked in the coaches' poll. Between DeAveiro, Concordia's John Dore and UQAM's Olga Hrycak, Bishop's Rod Gilpin and Jacques Paiement Jr. at Laval, there's a lot of talent and energy on the sidelines in that league. One would hope that translates into the Q getting a first-round W at the Final 8 before too long.

Meantime, as much as people are happy for DeAveiro and his opportunity at McGill, his departure closes the book on a great period in the Canal War. The Carleton-Ottawa city rivalry was probably never more tense than it was in 2006 and '07, when the Gee-Gees won the January matchup each time and the Ravens rallied to win the national title.

It takes two special teams in order to produce that atmosphere, and right now it is hard to imagine it being repeated without DeAveiro at the opposite end at the court from the Carleton coaching staff. His successor stands to inherit talents such as Warren Ward, Keisha Edwards and Ryan Malcolm-Campbell, but the bar was set fairly high at Ottawa.

It's a tough act to follow, especially if there's a morale problem at the university. It feels like Ottawa is really at a crossroads, especially if Carleton builds a competitive football program.

(Talk about omens: during some spring cleaning today brought on by a pending move to a new job, I happened across a 2007 Ottawa Sun clipping of an article about DeAveiro's Gee-Gees. This comes on the same day my likely last column in the Sun appeared with quotes from Carleton AD Jennifer Brenning, who was also previously at Ottawa.)
Scramble EG wants another crack at the Vanier Cup:
"One of eight nominees for the 2010 BLG Awards announced Wednesday, Glavic says he’s decided to be realistic about his chances of turning pro as a Canadian pivot and focusing instead on a return visit to the Vanier Cup.

" 'Whether I would get a legit look or a legit shot, who knows,' said Glavic. 'With the way things appear to be, I’m happy being in university this year and playing that role and maybe next year having a bit more of run at it.' "
Canada West seems to be the "Calgary, Saskatchewan and everybody else" conference, although maybe Manitoba will get it together after two seasons which were best left forgotten. Glavic has been great for the game, so it's good to know fans can look forward to seeing him for one more season, even if it's too bad a CFL shot never materialized.

Meantime, as you already know, Glavic has a chance to match fellow former Saint Mary's quarterback Chris Flynn as the only three-time Hec Crighton winner.

Meantime, congratulations for all the BLG Award nominees, from west to east: UBC volleyballer Liz Cordonier, Glavic, Western QB Michael Faulds, Montréal soccer star Véronique Maranda, Laurier hockey goalie Liz Knox, hockey standouts Francis Verreault-Paul and Hunter Tremblay of McGill and UNB and Cape Breton basketball star Kelsey Hodgson.

BLG nominee Glavic to return to Dinos (Sean Myers, Calgary Herald)
One couldn't help but notice which university was mentioned with regard to what role Canadian university football would have at a new Lansdowne Park in Ottawa.
"Kevin McCrann, spokesman for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said the developers will spend $30 million to bring a Canadian Football League team to Ottawa.

" 'We're building the retail component and parking and we’re contributing to the front lawn,' he said. 'We’re also inheriting the losses of operating the stadium for years to come.

" This is Ottawa’s world-class open-air stadium. It will host Carleton University football games, soccer games, concerts. It’s a public facility. We think it’s a fair proposal.' " (italics mine)
Granted, when someone is speaking extemporaneously, things get left out. It's kind of notable Carleton is mentioned but not the University of Ottawa. Then again, I tend to overthink.
It's not an oversimplication to make the link betweeen what's gone down at Waterloo and the CFL's cavalier approach to steroids, even if the cause-and-effect might not be so direct as imagined.
"The CFL, the potential employer of some university football players, remains the only major pro league in North America without a drug testing program.

"And now Canadian universities are looking at the cold reality that their existing drug policy lacks muscle."


" ... never before has one of the Canadian federation's own players been accused of trafficking performance-enhancing drugs.

"So while the CIS wades into new territory, administrators across the country hold their breath until the names of any drug cheats in the wake of UW's scandal are made public by May 1.

" 'If they get a whole pile of positive tests (in Waterloo), that will send a tremor through all of us at CIS football schools and we'll say, "What will we do?" because that would be huge,” University of Regina athletics director Dick White told The Regina Leader-Post."
Nathan Zettler, the former Warriors wideout now facing criminal charges, is out on bail but still banned from campus.

UW football player charged in steroid case out on bail (Greg Mercier, Waterloo Region Record)
Local schools call for CFL testing policy in wake of UW steroid case; Failure to implement policy at pro level sets bad example, university officials say (Christine Rivet, Waterloo Region Record)
York stayed in-house for its new men's basketball coach, with 13-year veteran assistant Tom Oliveri playing the Bill Guthridge to the retired Bob Bain's Dean Smith. Quoth Olivieri:
"After being part of the York University men's basketball family for the last 13 years, it is an exciting opportunity to build on the legacy of Bob Bain and the accomplishments of the program."

Oliveri to lead to Lions men's basketball team (press release)
As you know, the rosters are set for the East-West Bowl, which takes place the second Saturday in May at London's TD Waterhouse Stadium.


EAST (coached by Queen's Pat Sheahan)
  • Acadia: LB Tom Labenski, DB Michael Miller, DB Mike Rostance
  • Bishop's: RB Kyle Exumé, WR Olivier Mongeau, DT Junior Turner
  • Concordia: QB Robert Mackay, SB Liam Mahoney, OT Anthony Barrette, S Nicholas Arsenault-Hum
  • Laval: WR Julian Feoli Gudino, G Pascal Baillargeon, DE Marc-Antoine L. Fortin, S Jonathan Laliberté, K-P Christopher Milo
  • McGill: DE Courtney Bishop, DT Ben Thompson
  • Montréal: WR-KR Frank Bruno, WR Youssy Pierre, T Sébastien Taché, DT Gregory Alexandre
  • Mount Allison: C Chris Munn, LB Ben Halpern, CB Bradley Daye
  • Ottawa: QB Brad Sinopoli, WR Steve Hughes, DT Brandon Lowe
  • Queen's: WR Thomas Howes, DB Ben D'Andrea, LB Stephen Laporte
  • Sherbrooke: OL Yannick Sage, DT Steve Paquette, LB Kevin Régimbald
  • St. FX: G Stewart Walsh, LB Henoc Muamba
  • Saint Mary's: RB Craig Leger, LB Ryan King, S Jeff Hecht
  • U of T: RB Walter Cariazo, SB/WR Michael Prempeh, DB Willie Sharpe
WEST (coached by Calgary's Blake Nill)
  • Alberta: OL Thomas Fry, OL Nicholas Ternovatsky, DL Craig Gerbrandt, K-P Hugh O'Neill
  • Calgary: RB Matt Walter, SB Anthony Parker, WR Nathan Coehoorn, G Reed Alexander
  • Guelph: WR Jedd Gardner, DB Sebastian Howard, DB James Savoie
  • UBC: RB Dave Boyd, DL Serge Kaminsky, S Alex Babalos
  • Laurier: WR-KR Dillon Heap, DL Steve Cormack, CB Shane Herbert, S Scott McCahill
  • Manitoba: SB Clancy Doiron, DE Everton Black, LB Thomas Hall
  • McMaster: RB Joey Nemet, DL Steve Cecchini, DL Roberto Filice
  • Regina: QB Marc Mueller, SB Brenden Owens, WR Mark McConkey
  • Saskatchewan: QB Laurence Nixon, SB Braeden George, T-G Ben Heenan, LB Peter Thiel
  • Waterloo: WR Dustin Zender, DL Andrew Heeley, S Mitch Nicholson, DB Bashir Moallim
  • Western: WR Zach Bull, G Matt Norman, LB John Surla, CB-S Craig Butler
  • Windsor: WR Marcel Samuel, G-C Nick Cicchini, DT Seamus Postuma, S Daryl Townsend
  • York: FB Jacob Appiah, LB Steve Reading, CB Andre Clarke
This is pretty cool: Adnan Virk, whom not too long ago was The Score's sideline reporter on University Rush football telecasts and also worked the sideline during the CIS Final 8, is bound for Bristol.

Virk tweeted that he will be working as an anchor for ESPNews and by his reckoning, the 31-year-old would be the first Muslim on-air personality at the worldwide leader.

ESPN, playing basketball in Italy for JuveCaserta ... suffice to say, never say that graduates of Ernestown Secondary School in Odessa, Ont., do not go on to bigger and better things. It was hard not to get a kick out of it during the 2009 CIS Final 8. During the St. FX-Carleton quarter-final, Virk made a point to do a sideline interview with the fathers of then-Carleton stars Aaron Doornkamp and Stu Turnbull, since Adnan and both men, Henk Doornekamp and Kingston-area coaching legend Tom Turnbull, went back many, many years.

People would naturally identify Virk, a Ryerson alumnus, with Toronto. Hopefully people in and around Kingston, Napanee and smaller communities such as Morven and Odessa know their corner of the universe was where such an immense talent began his long road to glory. Hopefully, it will not be too long before Virk can slip in a CIS score on the Worldwide Leader.
Following up on the drug investigation that has enveloped the football programs at Waterloo, Laurier, Guelph, McMaster, and possibly other schools, today we learn that three men have been charged.

Two of them are listed on the Waterloo roster: Matthew Valeriote and Nathan Zettler (both receivers), while the third, Eric Legare, formerly played for the Warriors (some time ago, since I can't find him going back to 2004). All three have been charged with break-and-enter offences, which reminds us that this investigation was set off when Waterloo Regional Police investigated a break-and-enter, and found substantial quantities of steroids and human growth hormone.

Zettler is the only one charged with trafficking offences at this point, a notable fact to highlight given that the player banned from campus earlier was done so in connection with a trafficking investigation. Both he and Valeriote have also been charged with the use of a stolen credit card in addition to the break-and-enter charges.

Valeriote and Legare have been released and their court dates are set to be in June. Zettler, however, has a bail hearing today, which I'm sure The Record will be all over. (And they are: this has now been posted, giving details of the alleged offences and of the steroids found by police.)

In terms of their contributions to the 2009 Waterloo team, neither player was significant: Valeriote appeared in one game and received one pass, while Zettler has no statistics listed. And as far as doping violations are concerned, we have no information at this point about any of the testing done on Waterloo players. Zettler has one year of eligibility left; Valeriote has three.

But regardless of what happens with these players, apparently many of the, shall we say, more crucial Waterloo players refused testing, which may or may not significantly affect the Warriors' lineup in the 2010 season.

(Unlike the last post, I'm opening up the comments here. Please keep it clean.)
The Rouge et Or/Carabins rivalry might not heat up a lot over this story, but any Laval players looking to play NFL 2011 on their iPhone will probably get constant reminders about how the game was developed.

Lecturers at l'Université de Montréal have been on strike for about six weeks, but in the meantime, some football players have been offering themselves up as motion-capture models for nearly a month for an NFL game due to come out for the iPhone in 2011.

Running back Alexis Stropiano was one of the only ten or so players involved, so it was necessary to represent different positions: "linebacker, quarterback, receiver, tight end, etc." The actual contact plays were captured using two players and just a little bit of padding: "It was risky: it was just on gym mats, and it was necessary to be very precise on the tackles."

It's an interesting story, but not completely surprising: Montreal has more than its share of software development companies, especially those designing video games. In this case, the company is Gameloft, a major mobile developer headquartered in Paris--and if I'm not mistaken, their Montreal office is fairly close to the Montréal campus.

But if you're wondering how the Carabins hooked up with Gameloft, it turns out that one of the game designers is dating a hockey player at the school. Another benefit to having more women's hockey programs in CIS!

Motion capture des Carabins pour le jeu vidéo NFL 2011 (Alexandre Belkowski, Quartier Libre) (via Deux Fans)
Earlier this week, Neate posted that McMaster has added some much-needed talent at the kicker position, and that recruit Tyler Crapigna will be challenging for the lion's share of the team's kicking duties. After announcing their recruiting class this week, the Marauders may have a few more players challenging for starting roles.

Mac has added a potent QB-receiver combo out of Frontenac High in Kingston, with pivot Marshall Ferguson and receiver Ben O'Connor. The two led Frontenac, the same training grounds for former Mac standout QB Adam Archibald, to the 2008 National Capital Bowl, in which Ferguson threw for two TDs, one of which went to O'Connor.

It will be interesting to see if Stefan Ptaszek looks to the young QB early on in 2010, with incumbent Kyle Quinlan posting a solid-if-unspectacular season last year.

The Marauders have also added a rare out-of-province recruit in DB Allan Dicks from W.J. Mouat in Vancouver. Dicks was a two-way player in High School, but will stay on defence and add to the Marauders' considerable young secondary depth, adding to the likes of OUA Rookie of the Year Cody Lynch.

Mac has also added OL Sandy Bissett, RB Jimmy Hill, RB Ryan Kotar, OL Brad Minns, OL Andrew Mizzi, DL Jason Riley, LB Ryan Saunders and DB Steve Ventresca.
It's probably dry to some, but CBC News has a report on seven OUA schools who violated OUA gender equity guidelines by giving more than 55% of athletic scholarship money to either women or men.

Female athletes received more than 55% of financial awards at Guelph, Nipissing and Ottawa; the men got 55% or more at Lakehead, Laurier, McMaster and Windsor.
"Ward Dilse, executive director of the OUA, said a committee that looks at financial awards will notify the violators and ask for an explanation. But because the collection of award data is still in its infancy, the association is focusing on education rather than sanctions for violators, he said. The OUA started collecting this type of data in 2003-04."
(The CBC has a handy-dandy graph of how each school spent its money. Waterloo in 2008-09 gives about four times as much money to male athletes as their female counterparts, but isn't included, perhaps due to the makeup of the student body.)

The real question is how such data gets used. Do coaches get called on the carpet if not enough of their players are maintaining the 70% average necessary to get scholarship money?

There are a lot of deeper issues. All four schools which gave 55%-plus to male athletes either have football or in Lakehead's case, a men's hockey team but no women's team.

Ont. athletic scholarship gender gap probed; Women more likely to meet grade cutoff for award: University of Ottawa (Lucas Timmons, CBC News)
Mike Raimbault acknowledged two years ago it would be "something special" to coach against his hometown Brandon Bobcats. He'll get that opportunity quite a bit.

Raimbault has reportedly been hired to lead the Winnipeg Wesmen out of the doldrums after winning the CCAA national championship and being national college coach of the year this season with the UNBC Timberwolves. People will no doubt read this as a burn on Brandon. Raimbault went 31-8 (20-2 in league play) as interim coach in 2007-08, but the university hired Keith Vassell. Vassell resigned two weeks ago, which is the punchline on the school.

It will be a long rebuild at Winnipeg, so here's wishing Raimbault well.
A somewhat disturbing story out of Nova Scotia: Former AUS all-star centre Neil MacDonald is facing seven counts of indecent exposure. It's actually the top story on the Halifax Chronicle-Herald website at this writing.
"In a recent interview, Steve Konchalski, St. Francis Xavier University’s basketball coach, said he’d heard MacDonald was in trouble and was surprised by the news.

" 'I coached Neil MacDonald for eight years. He was a fine young man, very normal in every way other than being six-foot-11 and being a very good basketball player,' Konchalski told The Chronicle Herald.

" 'But if, in fact, these allegations are true, then it is certainly totally out of character for him. When I first heard of them, I was shocked.' "
Konchalski notes that the 25-year-old MacDonald was "very much disturbed" after his mother died while he was playing in Europe. In the courts' eyes, enduring trauma or stress does not excuse any antisocial act, but a lawyer will and judge might take that into account.

Experts seem unclear on the causes of indecent exposure. The most infamous instance of it in the sports world was 1970s-vintage NFL wide receiver Lance Rentzel. (Rentzel, coincidentally enough, had depression.)

As the Chronicle-Herald notes, four current or recent X-Men players have been brought up on criminal charges in the span of barely more than a year. The Lloyd Dobler take from Say Anything ("I know that I don't know") seems appropriate with regard to what that says about the program.

It was understandable people would criticize the school after three players were brought up on assault charges. This is different. MacDonald has been out of school for a while, and while it's news since he played ball for St. FX, he's an adult. It is on him to get whatever help he needs to stay on the straight and narrow. Here is hoping that happens. Please keep any comments tasteful.

Former X-Men hoop star charged with indecent acts (Halifax Chronicle-Herald)
The upside of FAN 590 basketball commentator Eric Smith zinging the very blog network this site belongs to is that it's an opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to those -- readers, commenters, broadcasters, sportswriters, fans, sports information directors, athletic directors -- who take us seriously.

It is always best to turn the other cheek and focus on those who are keeping up to the lead pack. Smith's dreck about "Joe Fan Bloggers" need not even be rebutted. Is it too late to tell to Bucholtz? No? Dammit!

Instead, let me say "thank you." Thank you. This was a great year for the growth of, and hopefully it will continue in 2010-11. Not to sound like a job applicant reciting her/his résumé to someone who's already read it, but we put ourselves out there this year.

Off-hand, travelling on a shoestring, we covered five CIS championships (both basketball, men's hockey, football and men's volleyball) and live-blogged the final of each one, which speaks to the dedication and abilities of our staff. People have come to respect our contribution, as an aggregator, as a place which provides analysis and commentary (and once in a blue moon, breaks news) and as somewhere where CIS diehards can have a conversation on their terms.

None of that would be possible without the support of readers, first and foremost. It also speaks to how our writers, based in five provinces, have invested themselves in this project, and Andrew B.'s and Rob Pettapiece's leadership style. It is reassuring to think this site has had, and will continue to have, some impact.

It has not been anything earth-shattering or revolutionary. One would not expect us to necessarily be on the radar screen of a guy who covers the NBA's Toronto Raptors full-time. I apologize that it took Smith's potshot straight out of 2006 to say thanks.

For those wondering, here is what Smith said.
" ... this The's 'Sports Federation' is walking a fine line. On one hand, The Score is trying to stay ahead of the game (the industry) by using new media and social media to expand their coverage of certain sports. On the other hand, they're giving their NAME - and what "The Score" stands for as one of the top all-sports networks in Canada - to a group of Joe Fan bloggers. Again, some of those bloggers are better and more 'professional' than others, but is their new-found credibility legit, and should it put them on the same level as those that are writing or broadcasting for TSN, Sportsnet, The FAN 590, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, National Post, or Toronto Star?"
It doesn't put them on the same level, per se, but it puts them on some level.

Some would say Smith is a little late to the game. The Sports Fed. was created almost 18 months ago and was already tweaked by a better class of blogging journalist.

Some would also say that Smith should have done a little homework before making his gross generalization about "a group of Joe Fan bloggers." Perhaps there is some crossover between his boogieman "Joe Fan Blogger" and those "(who) are writing or broadcasting" for outlets such as the Toronto Sun.

Presumably, that would include the Ottawa Sun; check out its feature on Guelph Gryphons cross-country star Allan Brett, a Hillcrest High School graduate.

Speaking as a sinner saved by grace, yes, there was a little personal anger upon finding Smith's off-base rant. There's a little irony given that one of his colleagues, Paul Jones, played and coached in CIS basketball at York. There is a little more irony given Smith's forum for slamming "Joe Fan bloggers" was the official website of a team he purports to cover independently.

Let's not put the focus there. Instead, consider this an appreciation for how this site has evolved since (name drop ahead) James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail put it together in August 2007. Thanks again, everybody.
Did you see CFL scouting bureau's new draft list? There is a little synergy thing happening there, with the Toronto Argonauts holding the No. 1 pick and Queen's linebacker Shomari Williams, a proud Brampton resident, being the No. 1-ranked prospect.

The point is the obvious insofar as Williams being from the GTA goes, but also keep in mind how historic it would be (relatively speaking, it is just sports, peeps) if an OUA school has a player taken with the first pick. It hasn't happened in quite a while. The league has been shut out in the first round the past two years.

Canada West has accounted for the No. 1 pick the past three years. The QUFL had it in 2002 and '05 (both from Laval), sandwiched around Saint Mary's Steve Morley in 2003.

The highest an OUA player has been taken in the past 12 years is No. 2 overall (2006, when McMaster's Jason Pottinger, Western's Andy Fantuz out of Western and York's Ricky Foley went 2-3-4; thanks DDS). With Guelph kicker Rob Maver rated sixth and Laurier cornerback Taurean Allen rated eighth, there is a chance of three OUA first-rounders again. The league is on the way up, although yes,Williams' University of Houston's ties should not be discounted.

Here are the first selections out of the OUA the past 10 years:
  • 2009: Dee Sterling, DT, Queen's, second round, 12th overall to Edmonton;
  • 2008: Mike Bradwell, REC, McMaster, second round, 13th overall to Toronto;
  • 2007: Justin Phillips, DE, Laurier, fifth overall to Calgary;
  • 2006: Jason Pottinger, LB, McMaster, second overall to B.C.;
  • 2005: Matt O'Meara, OL, McMaster, third overall to Saskatchewan;
  • 2004: David Azzi, WR, Ottawa, third overall to Ottawa;
  • 2003: Kojo Aidoo, FB, McMaster, second round, 10th overall to Edmonton;
  • 2002: Brian Nugent, WR, York, ninth overall to Calgary;
  • 2001: Ryan Donnelly, G, McMaster, fourth round, 28th overall to Hamilton;
  • 2000: Tim Bakker, C, Western, third overall to Edmonton.
(One small note on 2001: Ottawa had two players drafted before Donnelly, but the Gee-Gees played in the O-QIFC in 2000.)
Another week, another coach stepping aside and citing all the odd jobs and ancillary duties that get piled on top of the tough-as-it-is task of winning games. This time it's Keith Vassell at Brandon:
"Brandon University will be looking for a new men's basketball coach for the 2010-11 Canada West Conference season.

"Keith Vassell has stepped down, citing a variety of factors for his decision. 'Being a coach at Brandon University means wearing a lot of hats," he said in a press release, 'and I felt that with that, and for personal reasons, a change was in order.'

"The search for a new head coach will get underway in the coming days." — Winnipeg Free Press, March 29
The scary thought is it took a week to pick up on the fact the coach at a school which played in the national title game in 2007 has resigned. It's a tough road to hoe at a small school if the proper support isn't there; it makes the success coaches such as Cape Breton's Jim Charters, among others, have had all the more impressive.

Taking Vassell at his word, one wonders if this will be a wake-up call. What Brandon had in its salad days with Jerry Hemmings is probably long gone. Some would say that is not so bad, either.
Traditionally, McMaster's taken all the best basketball recruits out of Hamilton - and not many places else. But it looks like the Marauders will be joined by a rare out-of-province player next season.

Keith Omoerah, a 6'4" guard out of Grant Park in Winnipeg, has committed to McMaster for next season. Omoerah joins seldom-used forward Geoff Noble as the only out-of-province players on the team. Head Coach Joe Raso says he has a good chance to start at the Point Guard position, having started at the position for Manitoba at last year's Canada Summer Games and for the Grant Park Pirates, who made it to the quarterfinals of the AAAA provincial championship this year.

Of course, some Hamilton prospects have also committed to joining Mac for next year. 6'8" Taylor Black and 6'6" Satar Wahidi, both of Orchard Park Secondary in Stoney Creek, will be attending Mac next fall and will suit up for the Marauders. The two have led OPSS to two Hamilton City Championships, and add some needed size to the Mac lineup.
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