Thursday, June 24, 2010

Football: Carleton board of governors approve football's return

Talk about timing: Carleton's board of governors voted Thursday to bring back Ravens football, just four days before a city council vote on the redevelopment plan for Lansdowne Park (which has been nasty):
"A team will play in Canadian Interuniversity Sport for the first time in 13 years if the board of governors can reach its fundraising goal of $5 million and convince senior administration the team is financially sustainable in the long run. The university made a highly unpopular decision to scrap the team in 1999 because it was draining a large portion of the athletics budget without producing a lot of wins.

"This time around, alumni are helping out with the budget. Former Ravens cornerback John Ruddy has pledged his support as the lead donor and the board has already raised at least half of the $5 million required to bring the team back." (Ottawa Citizen)
The Lansdowne plan winning approval would probably be a real shot in the arm, although Carleton has stated it isn't essential to play there. It seems to be good news for CIS football that a university which once discontinued football not only back in, but is very much living in the now when it comes to running a program. Carleton director of athletics Jennifer Brenning said as much two months ago:
"You think you can operate a program on $300,000 a year, you just double that. Teams that used to have one full-time coach, now have 2-3 full-time coaches. The training is not four months, it’s all year... the game has really grown and developed in the CIS, the requirements are so much greater.”

"[Laval has] taken it right to an NCAA level. That's where we need to go with our sporting events in Canada."
Covering the NHL draft (livechat at noon ET Friday!) takes priority, so tracking down some details (like when a formal app will be made to the OUA; end of summer was previously mentioned as doable) might have to wait. Needless to say, this is good news for CIS and OUA football, especially in the wake of you-know-what.

A couple other notes:
  • Devil's advocate: Is Ottawa-Gatineau a better two-team town than Kitchener-Waterloo, which also has three other CIS football teams in close proximity? Just saying.

  • One of our esteemed commenters pointed out that if Carleton comes in and Waterloo leaves, it would be possible to revisit the old O-QIFC concept -- an eight-team Quebec league with the two Ottawa schools.

    The big question is what that would do for recruiting. Concordia recruits well in southern Ontario because it's an established program, but how would a new team fare at convincing players to come to a school? Being in the O-Q arguably hurt Queen's recruiting in the 1990s.

  • An 11-team OUA, should Waterloo return, would likely make a nine-week, eight-game regular season permanent. That's the only way to accommodate a 44-game schedule.

  • Would Carleton's return influence Waterloo's decision whether to resume football?

  • One would hope the CFL supporters who plan to rally at Lansdowne Park on Sunday also have a little time for the university game.

  • The Citizen notes dropping football was "hugely unpopular" when Drew Love made the call in 1999. It would nice not to have to hear it described in such a way ever again. Having read archived news stories from that time, there was a huge stink. However, Carleton's success in basketball and establishment of hockey in the years since show it worked out, and it would be nice to hear it described as such.

    (Your agent was covering sports for the campus fishwrap at another Ontario university in those days and recalls a colleague from Ottawa expressing disgust with the decision and questioning why Carleton would put its focus on basketball.

    Someone politely replied that Dave Smart would have a team win a national title within five years of becoming head coach. Of course, that was way off. They did it in Year 4.)

  • One school that might cash in on Waterloo's withdrawal: The Guelph Gryphons. The hometown Tribune, the weekly, scooped the daily with a report eight Warriors have applied to Guelph.

6 comments:

  1. To the best of my recollection. even the so-called huge stink was mostly a lot of repetitive articles quoting the Bald Ravens alumni and those associated with the football program, along with the usual sports talking heads bemoaning the loss of any team on principle alone. Most of the school was either indifferent to the decision or glad to see an end to the funding of a team that had proved to be mostly an embarrassment to the school. (1986 notwithstanding)

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  2. If Carleton does join, thoughts on if Carleton and Ottawa both joined the QSSF. Both the OUA (pending Waterloo's return) and the QSSF would be 8 team league schedules. And less travel time for the teams on the edges of the province (Windsor, Western, Ottawa, Carleton). Any thoughts?

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  3. It's certainly a valid argument, save for the fact the OUA and CIS really frowns upon teams playing "out of association" unless of necessity, like in hockey (only 3 QSSF schools have a men's team and there are only 3 women's teams). There's a reason Ottawa left the old O-Q.

    That said, what would draw better in Ottawa? Ottawa-Laval or Ottawa-Windsor? Carleton-McGill or Carleton-Waterloo? Worth exploring.

    Honestly, I would rather create a "superconference" out of Saint Mary's, some big QSSF schools and some from the OUA. Have two smaller Ontario and Atl./Que. regional leagues.

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  4. Jason,

    Nice pull on Carleton's only Dunsmore Cup. Queen's had the Hec Crighton winner, Larry Mohr (who now lives in Ottawa) that season ('85) and a first-round NFL pick, Mike Schad, and got upset in the O-Q semifinal.

    The Ravens beat Concordia ... from what I gather they had to travel out to Calgary for the semifinal when the Dinos were a huge powerhouse, and it was about minus-30 that day. They didn't stand much of a chance.

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  5. "Hi, it's Waterloo. We'd like to play football again. I know you had to rush to fix your schedule when we suddenly and selfishly left, and we know you already have 10 teams, and you replaced the listless Battle of Waterloo with a revival of the Panda Game, and we don't have any kind of recruiting base to begin with, and no veteran players stuck around, and nobody wants to coach here, and we'll probably go 2-6 again, and we'll probably have poor atten--hello? ...Hello?"

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  6. Nice. Worthy of Eddie Izzard and Every Day Should Be Saturday.

    Problem is, can you vote a school out of the league? I don't think you can.

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