There are far too many CIS stories for us to keep track of every one of them, even in the quieter summer months, but it only seems appropriate to call attention to this profile of Sam Effah, a Dino sprinter who's won athlete of the year three times, is entering his final year of eligibility with Calgary in the fall, finished just 0.10 seconds behind Usain Bolt in a 200m world championship heat, is competing this weekend at nationals--and, oh yeah, ran the fourth-fastest time ever by a Canadian last month:
“It's one thing to run 10.06 once, but a couple of times, then I know I really belong,” Effah said.

[National team coach Alex] Gardiner cautions there are no overnight sensations in track and field and it could be months before Effah breaks the 10-second barrier. But he believes Effah has the temperament to succeed in this high-pressure sport.

“He's kind, gentle and thankful. He's humble,” Gardiner said. “For a sprinter, you think it has to be the other.”

Effah ran a 10.06 in Miramar, Florida. No worry of high altitudes there.

The link below also has a short video of Effah and his Calgary coach Brenda Van Tighem, along with the requisite long shot of the sprinter sprinting toward the camera. In the video, the (apparently quite affable) Effah says he just wants to medal, whether it's in 2012 or 2016. Given that no Canadian has finished on the podium in an Olympic sprint since 1996, it's hard not to share his simple desire.

Related:
Calgary sprinter hitting his stride [The Canadian Press]
A few people who follow women's hockey are probably aware graduating Laurier forward Kate Psota is also a right-handed starter for Canada's women's baseball team.

Psota, 24, who helped Laurier win the bronze medal at the CIS championship, spoke with Toronto's FAN 590 prior to Tuesday's Baltimore Orioles-Blue Jays game.

It was very cool of the FAN 590 to give time to a growing sport — Psota noted some international games get crowds of up to 20,000, or more than a typical Orioles-Jays game these days.

(We won't make light of the FAN 590's website referring to Psota as a "Canadian National Softball Team member" when she and interviewer Mike Wilner make it very clear in the first 45 60 seconds of the interview that it's about baseball.)
It was mentioned a while back that Vanier Cup MVP Danny Brannagan staying on the Toronto Argonauts practice roster was another crack in the CFL's glass ceiling for Canadian quarterbacks.

It just so happens the Edmonton Journal is running a 3-part series on the future for Canuck passers (the first installment was a look back). Duane Forde, the TSN analyst, had a couple salient points:
"Suddenly the level of competition (in CIS football) has gone up and I think people around the CFL are starting to take notice, realizing there is some potential there.

"From here I think it's a matter of figuring out a system to give those kids a chance to make it in the CFL.

"Look at the situation in Toronto, where Danny Brannagan got to training camp and has ended up on the practice roster. But Danny Brannagan was an undrafted guy that went there after his fifth year of university. If he didn't make it, he has no other place to go.

"What I would love to see is for the CFL to start identifying the top quarterbacks in the country after their second or third years and give these kids an opportunity, even though they are not draft-eligible yet, to get into CFL training camps and not make up for all that learning in a two-week or three-week camp."
That is similar to the chance Ottawa Gee-Gees QB Brad Sinopoli had with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this spring. Forde alluded to the fact U.S. quarterbacks are always going to be more desirous to the CFL, since they have certain inborn advantages:
"You see more kids who are playing football in Canada taking advantage of the resources south of the border. Meaning going to camps, some even going to schools in situations where it means playing in warmer climates, a situation where you can throw the ball year-round, which means you're getting more reps — one of the reasons I think that have held Canadian quarterbacks back."
That does not mean the CFL shouldn't at least consider some means to try and close the gap.

The lack of a Canadian QB hasn't hurt the CFL's bottom line — has it caused anyone to not buy tickets or watch on TV? It's just that the current conditions, as Forde elucidated, mean a CIS quarterback has a better chance of throwing a pass through the eye of a needle than getting on a CFL dress roster.

It would be nice, for lack of a more profound way to say it, if the league did more to help encourage the next great Canadian hope. Evaluating CIS passers earlier in their careers seems like part of the solution.

Related:
Canuck QBs' day will come; TSN's Forde thinks the key is for prospects to cast a glance to the south (Mario Annicchiarico, Edmonton Journal)
If you build it, they will come ...

A story on CBC Radio this morning (as well as on their website), has Université de Moncton president Yvon Fontaine striking a committee to study whether to form a university football team that would play in the Atlantic University Sports conference. He said that committee begins work next month and will have a final report by the end of December.

Moncton has just finished successfully hosting the 2010 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships and UdeM now has a spanking new 10,000 seat stadium on campus.

Of course just down the highway in Sackville this might be a love-hate deal. Mount Allison has played a couple of "home" games in Moncton to reach out to that much bigger market, and one would think that might evaporate if UdeM was to have a team. On the other hand there is always the language issue -- francophones in eastern New Brunswick would surely rally behind a UdeM squad while anglophones might continue to support Mount A. Nothing like a cultural rivalry played out on the field (okay, I'm kidding here, because language is not that big an issue in Canada's only officially bilingual province, other than on the fringes ...).

I'm not sure where UdeM would find the financial resources for recruiting, but there is obviously a huge pool of francophone footballers next door in Quebec to augment the locals kids. Recruiting Quebecers has certainly benefited Aigles Bleus hockey teams over the years.

Now if the financial picture can ever improve in Fredericton, so that the Red Bombers can be promoted from club status to varsity!

Related: University ponders legacy after IAAF games (CBC)

A couple bullet points from the three-day story the University of Waterloo, et al., misplayed into a three-year story:
  • The long tail (or, thanks for spoilin' it for everybody else).

    This is like a baseball game where an outfielder misses a shoestring catch on a sinking long drive and a single becomes an inside-the-park home run.

    It's still topical enough for Steve Simmons to crack a pretty good one-liner:
    "This didn’t get a lot of play, but the new Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, is the former president of the University of Waterloo. Which means, any day now, college football will be banned from coast to coast."
    One doubt that happens if Waterloo had fully thought out the unintended consequences of its draconian action. Simmons could not make that joke if UW had put each full-time coach under suspension, suspended the players who had adverse tests, played the season and held a thorough review.

    Instead, the fake punishment will be the main preseason story surrounding the OUA, rather than a league coming off its most exciting post-season in years.

    Waterloo sitting out will get mentioned each week since one team will have the bye. It will be mentioned for years on end as coaches start from scratch.

  • Where do we go from here?

    A friend recently asked, "Do you honestly think Waterloo is not coming back?" A month ago the answer would have been yes. It becomes no when framed in by Johnston taking the viceregal post.

    The questions become (a) in what state do the grid Warriors return and (b) what is the long-term effect on OUA football?

    A. Recruiting will likely be exceedingly difficult for the first little while. What kind of coaches will want to take the job?

    B. Blog buddy Sarah Millar noted last month that what "could be most damaging from this report is how it looks on CIS football to the general public who doesn’t really care about university football — sorry, Canadian university football."

    There have been instances where one uncompetitive program slowly causes another program to become uncompetitive and it drags down a football conference. It happened in AUS with Mount Allison. It happened to the OUA in the 1990s with U of T.

    Very few in traditional media have addressed that question since they are either unaware or don't care about the league.

    Very few have even bothered to point this out this came during an upswing for OUA football. It is fresh off having three different schools reach the Vanier Cup in a five-season stretch (Queen's in 2009, Western in '08 and Laurier in '05), only the third time that's happened since the current version of the league took form in the 1970s.

    Waterloo made it all about them and everyone who cares about this league and wishes more people felt the same has to eat it. That sucks.

    It's a stretch to call out the sportocrats on King Edward Ave., "This is what can happen when you treat your product as a media nonentity."

    Still, if stadiums were full(er) and there were big TV contacts, that would have helped avoid such fallout.

    The quality of play might not be the issue. But this won't help with expanding the sport beyond its normal reach.

    (For anyone wondering, the other two instances were 1989-93 and 1991-95. Western had three appearances, including two wins, sandwiched around the '91 Laurier and '93 U of T national championship teams.)

  • Another OMD misses her connection.

    Maybe it's too much to ask someone to write, "New Governor-General David Johnston is the former president of the University of Waterloo. Anyone think that school cancelling football had something to do with saving him and Harperites from bad publicity?"

    Far be it to suggest that says more in fewer words. Writing tight is not really a priority for tabloid-format newspapers.

    Waterloo Region Record editor Lynn Haddrall mentioned each story in a recent column. She was too busy handing out gold stars to her staff to wonder about tying the threads together. Granted, that's not even the most glaring lack of perspective shown in the past week by a woman who used to work at the Kingston Whig-Standard, but come on.

    How can people not at least wonder about a PR move made by a university at a time when its head was joining Prime Minister Stephen Harper's bunch, which is more obsessed with optics than any other government in recent Canadian history?

  • OUA football's rich are getting richer.

    The Imprint, UW's student paper, has an updated list of 16 transfers (hat tip: Always OUA).

    It's kind of illuminating sort the new arrivals by the type of football schools they ended up at:

    • 10 to OUA playoff teams, so far.

      Four players have shifted to Laurier, McMaster and Guelph have each added three.

      The Marauders have gained Toronto Argonauts O-line prospect Michael Warner, running back Tanner Forsyth and WR Chris Korol, with the Gryphs getting all-purpose back Steve Lagace, slotback Nick Anapolsky and d-back Brett MacDonald.

    • Three to AUS schools.

      Three Maritimes have moved closer to home. Quarterback Andrew Hickey and O-lineman Colin Wicks have joined St. FX, with slotback Mike Squires joining Acadia.

    • Two to the left coast (and out of CIS).

      Quarterback Jon Roney is headed to NCAA Division II Simon Fraser.

      Offensive tackle Joel Reinders, who is headed to a NFL training camp with the Cleveland Browns, is listed by The Imprint as a UBC transfer. He's a long shot to make the Browns ("think practice squad"), but logically, if the Browns see enough to keep him around, they'll put him on that taxi squad and give him a chance to learn the U.S. game.

    • One to a team which could use the help.

      D-back Hugo Lopez has transferred to U of T. Perhaps a few more will surface with the Varsity Blues or York Lions and neither school has announced it yet.

    Point being, the redistribution of talent is a little disquieting, considering the two-tier nature of OUA football. None of the other three non-playoff teams (the same six schools have made the playoffs each season since 2007) have reaped as much.

    Please keep in mind that list of 16 might not give the full picture. The Western Mustangs typically do not announce additions until some time in August.

    It also does not include 2010 recruits, such as incoming Queen's quarterback Billy McPhee. It also doesn't include any 17- or 18-year-old who was leaning toward UW for 2011.

  • A possible MIA, likely courtesy of Pierre Karl PĂ©ladeau.

    People have wondered where Waterloo's best defensive player, linebacker Jordan Verdone, might land, but there's nothing about perhaps their best offensive player.

    Last season's leading rusher, running back Matt Socholotiuk (nine TDs as a 21-year-old rookie), gets Googlewhacked in news searches.

    The player's hometown, Waterford, Ont., is in the coverage area of two dailies, the Brantford Expositor and Simcoe Reformer, a former employer of yours truly.

    You can certainly question a daily newspaper for falling short on the analysis side, like in the above instance. Two major stories at a university, involving its chief cook and bottle-washer, have nothing to do with each other?

    Since everyone has the same info, it's more important than ever to be able to put events into context.

    The shrinking staff levels at small-city Ontario dailies owned by Quebecor Media means the notion of gumshoeing and enterprise reporting is almost a ghost.

    Essentially, either someone returns your call or you quickly have to move on, since guess what, content providers are being awarded points based on quantity of work. Quality, news value, digging, what's that?

  • A mea culpa.

    Yours truly worked at the Reformer in 2004-05, the height of PED hysteria. Socholotiuk was the standout offensive player in the local high school league.

    There were e-mails during the '05 high school football season to the two-person sports department asking, "We heard high school football players are doing steroids, why isn't there a story on this?"

    On another occasion, while chatting on the phone with a coach at another high school (not the one Socholotiuk attended) to set up a time to come by for a preseason story and a photo, he said of his player, "He added a lot of muscle this summer, and he did it clean, which I was glad to see."

    It was the old, "He's saying he's innocent but we never asked if anyone was guilty."

    Five years later, that all takes on a different light. These are all presented as reasons, some would call 'em excuses.

    A reality was the two sports staffers had so much on the go there was no time for the digging a story about local athletes' use of steroids, or whether they would use steroids, would have required.

    Such a story meant getting people to go on the record in a small community of less than 15,000 people, where the 'you have to live here' phenomenon was very present. There was reason to wonder, but hands were tied.

    Management likely would not have offered backing. They preferred quote, unquote positive stories. High school football was a big rallying point in a county that was already hard-hit economically, due to the death of the tobacco industry and other issues in agriculture. At Socholotiuk's school, Waterford District, which was in OFSAA's single-A division, the football and boys rugby teams were rare exceptions in being able to compete successfully in a high school association dominated by two large AAA schools based in Simcoe.

    There was also a sensitivity about the two bigger schools getting too much attention for their sports feats.

    There was also a personal opinion various gatekeepers in football and hockey in Canada were not taking steroids seriously. That possibly made it down to parents quite possibly condoning it as well.

    Perhaps it was analogous to how Junior B and Junior C amateur hockey teams in rural areas pay players under the table. Everyone does it, if they want to win, and no one ever calls out a rival, so it is never reported.

    If the people in charge don't enforce it, then is it really against the rules?

    We also know the shades of gray with muscle-builders. "Clean" is relative.

    Lastly, a drug story should be looked at in terms of actual harm addiction and substance abuse inflicts on society. In a rural area, that would give crack cocaine and crystal meth much more news value than a couple high school 'roiders. Impaired driving would be another.

    Heck, in a context of football in 2010, concussions that results from legal contact might be the bigger societal problem. No one has cancelled football out of concussion concerns, or about players dropping dead from heatstroke (which hasn't happened in Canada, thankfully).

  • In other words, journalists don't have the time and the governing bodies don't have the money. So this what happens.

    Ultimately, the CFL and CIS football are in a better situation with clamping down on steroid use, since the big league will test top prospects. That could have happened without sacrificing Waterloo's season.

    And let's lose the fake concern.

    Please remember how it played out in early 2008 when our own Andrew Bucholtz did a follow-up for The Queen's Journal after a fringe player at Western named Matt Baxter had a positive test. Baxter played early in the season but not in the playoffs.

    The point Andrew raised, as others have was that there was potential for steroid abuse due to the low frequency of testing.
    "Queen’s football coach Pat Sheahan said he would like to see the testing program expanded to include all CIS athletes.

    " 'There's ample opportunity for an abuser to slip under the nose of the establishment because the testing is random,' he said. 'Ideally, over the course of the year, all athletes should be tested.' " (Feb. 5, 2008)
    That is not what anyone remembered, though. No reporter looked at that and wrote about a larger problem.

    The focus became a Sheahan quote about the possibility Western had other users beyond Baxter. That sparked a follow-up to that by the London Free Press, which seized on it since Western had defeated Queen's in the 2007 playoffs. (The story is no longer available online.) The contentious quote was removed from The Journal's website.

    And that's where it ended, which is the point. No one can really do a lot of investigation. The overwhelming majority of CIS football players are more private citizens than the public heroes.

    It takes a bust by the police, a holier-than-thou university president's association with a Teflon PM and lastly, a corporate media with an addiction to fauxtrage.

    Thoughts about band-aid solutions, scapegoating and unintended consequences go by the wayside. That's wrong.
Thanks for listening again.
Earlier this year, Rob Pettapiece and I came up with a statistical system to try and determine CIS volleyball players' value above average in terms of points, sets and matches. We started with the women's 2009-2010 season and Rob later tweaked the rankings in response to some questions. Now, we're evaluating the men's 2009-2010 season.

The system works exactly the same way as it does for the women, comparing players' kills, errors, kill percentages, aces and blocks against the average for their position and conference. Positive points are assigned for everything but errors, which receive negative points. That creates a raw (unadjusted) score for each player in terms of points above average, which is then adjusted to create sets and matches above average. These last adjustments were made so that a team's "matches above average" score was as close as possible to that team's W-L record.

Before we get to the results, there's one other important thing to note. This system doesn't consider digs or assists, so it's not intended to evaluate the impact of setters or liberos, and it doesn't consider middle or outside hitters' defensive abilities. We did compare setters and liberos to others playing the same position, so at least they're aren't being graded against a completely different type of player, but many of their contributions aren't covered in these rankings.

Our results line up reasonably well with this year's All-Canadian first team. Five of the seven players there are in our system's top 10. Interestingly, player of the year Paul Sanderson from Brandon is not among them, but he ranks 11th. The outlier is Western's Eric Simon, who still places a respectable 22nd in our system.

Who does our system like? Let's look at the Top 10. It picks Laval's Karl de Grandpre as the best player in the country by quite a bit, worth 3.6 matches above average. He was selected as a first-team All-Canadian. The second-highest ranked player is Max Burt of Dalhousie, who made the second team. Third-highest ranked player Spencer Leiske of Alberta didn't make either team, but he was selected as a CIS championship all-star. Fourth-ranked Gord Perrin of Thompson Rivers was a first-team All-Canadian this year and is a former CIS rookie of the year. Fifth- and sixth-ranked Sander Ratsep and Justin Duff (of Dalhousie and Winnipeg) were both first-team All-Canadians, while seventh-ranked Steven Kung of Toronto was a second-team All-Canadian. Eighth-ranked Frederic Desbiens of Laval was a first-team selection, while ninth-ranked Joren Zeeman of Queen's made the second team. 10th-ranked Josh Edwards of Windsor appears to be the highest-ranked player who didn't receive national recognition, but he did make the OUA first all-star team.

Our results are spread across the country, which seems to suggest that Canada West team dominance doesn't necessarily apply on the level of individual players. In fact, the only teams with two players in the top 10 are an AUS school, Dalhousie. and a Quebec school, Laval. If we look at the top 50 players, OUA actually has the most top 50 players with 21, followed by Canada West with 16, Quebec with eight and AUS with five. The Canada West players seem to be more evenly spread throughout the conference's teams, though; four of the top five AUS players are on Dalhousie, four of the eight Quebec players are on the Laval squad and most of the Ontario players appear to be on the top four or five teams. That makes sense, as many of the coaches I've spoken to think Canada West's edge in results at nationals is more because of a higher calibre of competition than better personnel; the top teams in other conferences may be similar talent-wise to Canada West teams, but they play a lot of games against teams that don't match up to that standard, which can make it difficult for them to advance.

In short, our system appears to largely agree with the All-Canadian selection process on who the best players are, but it has some quibbles about who ranks where. Complete results are available here.
Later this weekend, the Development Men’s National Team will start playing some exhibition games in Europe, against Cote D’Ivoire, Belgium, Great Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain. Mark Wacyk is back at cishoops.ca, and has a rundown on the "strong CIS flavour" to the DMNT.

Current or former CIS players on the team: Casey Archibald (former UBC), Jordan Baker (Alberta), Ryan Bell (former Carleton), Tyler Fidler (Calgary), and Troy Gottselig and Michael Lieffers (both from Saskatchewan).

The next two weeks are pretty much an audition for the senior team; Leo Rautins is coaching these players after all. Alberta's Greg Francis is there as well.

Will the games themselves be interesting? Well...these are exhibition games, so maybe not. And while the FIBA rankings are probably not that useful here (or in general), Spain is by far the highest-rated of this team's opponents (and they don't play the Spanish until Aug. 1).

Of course, it's not just CIS ballers, and it wouldn't be a Canadian development team without players like Devoe Joseph and Kelly Olynyk, who we've mentioned, however briefly, here on the blog.
It is important not to read too much either way into the announcement it is laying down FieldTurf Duraspine PRO ("the latest in artificial turf technology") at Warrior Field.

Does it automatically mean the football Warriors will return in 2011 just because the university's press release includes an illustration of a field with football markings and the Warriors crest at centrefield? No. Does it mean, as some of us tinfoil hatters surely snarked, "They sure do cover their tracks, eh?" No.

Waterloo received the funding to put in FieldTurf "through the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program in Ontario (RinC)." A program requirement is to "begin and materially conclude construction before March 31, 2011," the end of the federal government's fiscal year. That seems pertinent, even if it was gleaned from a 10-second Google when there wasn't time for 30 seconds.

That might explain why the bulldozers were still rolling days after the announcement. The work had to be done. Athletes in other outdoor team sports that require a large field such as field hockey, rugby and soccer, each of which is enjoying some growth, could surely use the space. Amateur football teams could also use the space. That is the case with the turf fields at Carleton and Ottawa; the resurrected grid Ravens are planning to play at the new Lansdowne Park.

On the other hand, yes, football could be returning at Waterloo. It is, on sober second thought, entirely possible that shutting it down for this season was just a way to keep a lid on a negative story and look all law-and-order until David Johnston had moved all his stuff into Rideau Hall.

Screwing up the football program beyond all repair for a decade is a small price to pay in that regard. However, just to self-report BS, it is not necessarily one and the same with the university looking to discontinue the sport.

The only surprise, really, would be if Waterloo is competitive again before Johnston moves out of Rideau Hall. A governor-general usually serves for five years, so where does that put us, 2015?

Meantime, receiver Nick Anapolsky, running back Steve Lagace and D-back Brett MacDonald have found football haven with the Guelph Gryphons. The Waterloo Region Record notes this is "making the best of a bad situation."

Yay, someone reads us!
Roy Rana, Nathan Schellenberg and Kirby Schepp and their young charges must be feeling good as gold.

Team Canada, coming back in the final 45 seconds, beat Lithuania 83-81 on Sunday to capture the bronze medal at the FIBA U17 men's world championship in Germany. The game details (Olivier Hanlon made up a late four-point deficit with a triple and two go-ahead free throws) are best left to those there.

Suffice to say there is some Canadian grit running through that boxscore. The team, with the Ryerson Rams' Rana as head coach and the Saskatchewan Huskies' Schellenberg and Manitoba Bisons' Schepp as assistants, won with star Anthony Bennett out with injury, as six players scored between 12-15 points. They also forced Lithuania into 18 turnovers and took care of the ball, coughing it up only 10 times.

The U.S. and Poland finished 1-2, so Canada may say its only losses were to teams which finished higher and to the host country, by one point in its first game.

The result makes Canada 3-for-3 in podium finishes at the FIBA level this summer. Each of the under-18 teams won bronze at the FIBA Americas tourneys which are qualifiers for the 2011 junior world championships.

Schellenberg, of course, already celebrated a CIS Final 8 championship with the hoops Huskies in March. The Miami Heat better get him on staff, just to make sure.

A bronze medal at an age-group championship isn't Page 1 news, but people should appreciate it. The win coming on the same day as the final of the FIFA World Cup is a little ironic. . Not There is no questioning the bonafides of the true fans. You just have to wonder at the tourists who act as if they're worldly sports fans for one month every four years, but have no concept of how Canada is making strides in hoops. Come on, FIBA is the other white meat of globally played team sports with quadrennial world championships.

Next on the docket for Canada Basketball is the U17 women's championship, which begins Friday in France. Canada opens against Turkey.

(One odd roster note, since we've talked about the outdated OFSAA basketball rules, is that guard Kellie Ring, the sister of incoming Bishop's guard Scott Ring, is the only Ontarian on the squad. That's a curious stat for the country's most populous province.)
There's a riddle going around.

Question: When do you try to stop steroid use on the backs of one CIS football team?

Answer: When the university president is up for governor-general.


That segues into the obvious next step in the University of Waterloo's hard line against performance abuse: banning the Internet on campus. It's the only way, people!
"Ordering steroids and human growth hormone through websites has become the single biggest way that those drugs are bought and sold, says the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"It's a multimillion-dollar shadow industry that is highly illegal, and very hard to police. And it's shipping its dangerous products to a mailbox near you." (Waterloo Region Record)
The two-and-two-together element is Waterloo's fake punishment might have had, oh, just a little with do with prez David Johnston being up for the viceregal post. There was probably a fear of taint-by-association for Johnston and the Conservative government, by extension.

Johnston was nowhere to be found when Waterloo sacked its program for at least 2010. No major media reports on his appointment mentioned, all together now, the biggest steroid scandal in Canadian university sports history.

At least the media is starting to put one and one together. Greg Mercer is one of the first reporters to put all this against a backdrop in which steroids are pretty much everywhere, making Waterloo's stance against "performance abuse" all the more ridiculous. Our example using nutritional supplement dealers was meant to show a gray area between legal and illegal. That distinction between legal and illegal, by the way, is founded on a fake concern about health risks that has been refuted over and over.
"Last year alone, agents with the Canadian Border Services Agency seized tens of thousands of dollars worth of steroids and growth hormone en route to mailing addresses in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge. Records of those seizures, obtained through federal Access to Information legislation, show that the postal service has become the new pipeline for dealers trying get their products past authorities to demanding customers.

"Some of the seized local shipments were as small as two glass vials of testosterone and boldenone, a type of steroid typically used for horses – worth about $100. Others packages that caught the eye of X-ray scanners at the border agency’s mail processing facility in Toronto included 950 pills of methandienone, an anabolic steroid used to aid muscle growth.

"A typical order to a Kitchener address was 500 yellow, diamond-shaped pills of Stanozolol – the steroid linked to sports doping scandals from Ben Johnson to Barry Bonds. Another seizure was of 500 Methanoplex tablets, a potent steroid that can cause estrogen-like effects in men."
Taking down one team cannot put a crimp in the pipeline of "raw steroid powder from China" making its way, though a middleman, to Canadians and Americans who are basically voting with their wallets that buying it should not be a crime. And that the notion of health risks is an old wives' tale.

However, Waterloo said it wanted to stop performance abuse. Evidently, it is neither here nor there that it would never index each engineering student's exam scores to the amount of caffeine he/she ingested. Caffeine, after all, increases brainpower over a short period.

People should realize, since the media haven't pointed it out, the U of Waterloo president was part of a sensitive government matter while a story was developing that was sure to have stickiness, due to post-hoc PED hysteria.

University highers-up must have also wondered, in recent years, if maintaining football was a useless fetish, an athletic atavism. Look at this way:
  • Football makes the biggest strain on a school or athletic department budget, and it also tends to be an old-money sport in both the U.S. and Canada.

  • UW is rich in many ways but doesn't put toward its sporting culture. The institution has "one of the lowest endowments of all large Canadian universities, something officials have been trying to improve over the last 10 years." Alumni are starting to donate a lot, but Waterloo alumni are not the type to give money to sports.

  • The Waterloo football team has missed the OUA playoffs for several seasons in succession. Attendance and interest in the team is tepid at best.

  • That leads to wondering: does football fit the nature of Waterloo, who attends and why they come? How do you build a communal feeling around football when a good portion of the student body is out on co-ops during the fall terms? If the answer is no, why keep it?
Throwing in Johnston's job change adds context to why Waterloo swung into overreaction over the past four months. It knew the drive-by media would buy their so-called stand against steroids.

Never mind swallowing that whole evokes a certainly socially awkward 11-year-old hitting the ceiling after listening to one classmate after another complain "why even have the Olympics?" during a discussion the morning after Johnson got DQ'd in '88.

(Some advice to any of you kids out there: yelling, "There's a lot of money riding on it and it's only cheating if you get caught!" won't make you the most popular kid in class. However, that is probably not going to happen regardless. It's also a more human response than indulging the PED hysteria that has persisted for two-thirds of my life.)

A better collective sanction would have been to suspend the full-time coaches and conduct a review. Instead, Waterloo acted punitively and harmed an entire league.

What we are after is threefold:
  1. The hypocrisy of the university: It nails one group of students for so-called performance abuse, while doing a Sgt. Schultz routine with it in other walks of university life.

  2. The false pretense for gutting the football Warriors. It is fine if UW wanted to discontinue football. It's a costly sport which is not for every school. Doing it this way is sneaky.

    The last athletic director to discontinue football, Drew Love at Carleton in 1999, made it clear where he was coming from.

  3. The inconvenience visited upon nine other OUA teams. And who knows if a couple copycat decisions won't come in the next 10 years.
That's about all. Presuming UW is really serious about being a bastion free of performance abuse in athletics, it should soon inform students that it's back to adding machines and manual typewriters this fall.

The Internet has helped facilitate the greatest revolution in how we work since Gutenberg invented movable type, but someone might order steroids on and spoil it for everyone else. Those scourges of modernity must be kept out. Waterloo really isn't a techie school, anyway.

Yeah, I know. Don't hold your breath.

Related:
Steroid websites deliver right to your door (Greg Mercer, Waterloo Region Record)
Queen's coach Pat Sheahan doused the notion the Golden Gaels are headed into a down cycle during a press conference introducing some hometown recruits on Friday.
"... (T)o come anywhere close to repeating, you need to return a good number of seniors and we have."

"Sheahan estimated his team will lose 10 or 11 starters from last year's championship outfit."
That is less than initially anticipated. Centre Dan Bederman and inside receiver Chris Ioannides, who attended CFL training camps, are both returned. Two drafted defensive stars, defensive end Osie Ukwuoma and inside linebacker Thaine Carter, the Metras Award and Presidents' Trophy winners in 2008, are described as "perhaps unlikely" to play a fifth season.

It seemed worth pointing out as a FYI to fellow alumni who have occasionally contended, "You know Queen's will struggle next year," since Nov. 28. Queen's tends to go a little peaks-and-valleys. Its 1992 championship season and the oh-so-close Tom Denison teams of the early 2000s gave way to a fallow period.

Also of note is the Queen's-McMaster season opener was moved ahead a day to Aug. 31. The Gaels, with semi-untested sophomore Justin Chapdelaine the favourite to start at quarterback, now get 11 days before their second game.

Meantime, the Western Mustangs, with their exhibition at Saskatchewan, will play four times in 15 days. Its fourth game is the day before Queen's second game. It's six of one, half-dozen of the other, but talk about crazy. Thanks again, Waterloo.
Giancarlo Rapanaro might not be so free to roam.

The Waterloo Region Record's story on Wednesday about five players moving from Waterloo to Laurier mentioned that Rapanaro's "anticipated transition from linebacker to free safety encounters a hurdle with the arrival of Warriors mainstay Mitch Nicholson."

A second-team all-Canadian such as Rapanaro being kept from making a position switch that would help his chances of playing in the CFL seems like the meat of a story. How does it make you feel knowing a rival might to stop you from moving to safety, which would help your chances of making it in the CFL? (Rapanaro was listed last season at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, not exactly up to spec for a CFL linebacker.)

There are two ways to take such a story. The first is, "Yay! Players found a home, Laurier benefits, former archrivals to perform big Bollywood-style dance number on the 55-yard line." The other is, "Players from two rival schools try to make the best of a bad situation that is still very much open-ended."

It is completely understandable to stick with the less complicated, tight-and-bright Option A.

Any question about one of the Warriors-turned-Hawks -- Nicholson, fellow d-backs Reid Nicholson and Patrick McGarry, D-lineman Andrew Heeley and wideout Dustin Zender thus far, with inside linebacker Jordan Verdone as a possibility -- taking a starting spot goes to the spirit of competition. A new player coming in and trying to take your spot is a fact of life in team sports.

The left unsaid is it's not like a transfer coming instantly earns the trust of coaches and teammates. This is a special situation, but in most cases with new guys, they're there because it was not working out "over there," which makes them more suspect than prospect.

Another problem with that Option A is it betrays the traditional media's shallowness and inexactitude. Here comes the predictable segue into editorializing ...

Calling what happened at Waterloo a "scandal" without at least wondering how far its tentacles reach smacks of trying to have it both ways, and preferring vanilla to vitriol. We know which one sells better in the media, so perhaps it's in a journalist's best interest to get a little brassy.

The same goes for not bothering to put the War-roids and performance abuse into a broader social context.

On the first count, the questions John Bower raised in June about why the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports failed to test Laurier players immediately seems to have come to a dead end. Perhaps nothing untoward happened, honest mistake, but that hasn't been aired.

On the second, Rob Pettapiece's modest proposal reporters should go to a nutritional-supplement retailer with a location close to a campus and start reading labels, as a way of showing the grey area between illegally obtained steroids and legal over-the-counter products, has come to naught.

Has discourse fallen that far that everyone just throws up a fourth wall? It is possible to be more open about it. James S. Hirsch's Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend, an authorized biography I just finished reading, notes "it would be naive to think Mays never took amphetamines" during his playing career. (Hirsch notes there isn't a"moral equivalence" between pep pills and steroids.)

Personally, hearing that doesn't diminish Willie Mays' legend one bit. Come to think of it, the only other two men in the Greatest Living Ballplayer debate are Mike Schmidt, who says he would have been tempted to use steroids, and Barry Bonds, who definitely took something.

Now, it is understandable for all the CIS stakeholders to have no-comment stance on the subject.

Risking collateral damage by saying anything that would stoke the embers of PED hysteria, especially among anti-football academics, would not be prudent.
(By the way, killer Tweet from Steve Simmons: "The president of the U of Waterloo is about to become governor general. Will his first act be to ban college football all across Canada?")

That does not mean the media has to play along. It can still try to convey what happened with Waterloo was likely not in isolation. It can also point out that that Waterloo's action was high-handed, hamfisted, and had little to do with stamping out performance abuse and zero to do with education. It can touch oin the reality UW's high-horse routine might do more harm than good to Canadian university football, at least in the short run.

Ultimately, best of luck to the coaches and players for soldiering on through a tough situation. The people who try to make a dollar in competitive Canadian football are nothing if not resilient. It is not a cheery story.
The University of Waterloo's fake punishment continues to have a harmful ripple across CIS football. Thanks to their selfishness, the Lions are getting thrown to the lions.

One can only caress their lucky rabbit's foot after seeing that the York Lions are matched against the Laval Rouge et Or in an exhibition game on Aug. 29. York is the only OUA team not playing in that first week, so it is replacing McMaster, which is in action just three days later against Queen's. You can only imagine what kneejerk CIS bashers will say if they should notice Laval winning by a ridiculous score.

Laval, which beat Western 27-0 in a preseason tilt last August, will not take advantage of the situation. However, the talent disparity between the two teams will probably hinder new Lions coach Warren Craney and two new coordinators' ability to test offensive and defensive schemes and young players.

Craney deserves every blessing as he tries to make York competitive again. It is scalable, especially with the grass-roots growth of football in the GTA. However, putting No. 26 (or No. 25) up against the No. 1 alpha dog is too much, too soon.

This is what happens when one school acts above everyone and CIS makes no effort to create meaningful league lines, instead of blindly following geography. Ask 100 fans if they would rather see York-Laval in August or Laurier-Laval in September with the result counting in the standings.

One can only hope Waterloo is planning to make a trip to suburban Quebec City when/if it returns to the gridiron. Don't hold your breath, though.

Remember, Laval having those "older, heavier, more experienced players" from CEGEPs was what led Waterloo players astray, eh, Stephen Valeriote?

The Aug. 27 Western-Saskatchewan exhibition game at Saskatoon is still on the docket (thank you, Sylven).
While the location the of men's basketball Final 8 through 2014 was a foregone conclusion, this week we actually learned who the hosts will be for several other championships in the next few years. Evan has already covered men's hockey and what the 2013 and 2014 tournaments could mean for the University of Saskatchewan, so let's take a look at some other upcoming championships.

(We'll restrict ourselves to those sports which we have covered somewhat regularly in the past.)

  • Women's basketball: For the first time, the Final 8 goes to Windsor, a year after they finished second to a school who...well, won't be at any more CIS championships. Windsor's well-positioned to qualify regardless of host status, with a great core of players expected to return. The Lancers have to be the favourites for the Bronze Baby now, if they weren't already.

    Calgary and Regina will then host the next two, bringing the tournament back to Canada West after two years in Ontario. Regina hosted the 2009 tournament and made it to the gold medal game, losing to...yep, Simon Fraser. Calgary was also awarded 2014 men's volleyball, giving them a 2-for-3 mark on championship bids this year.

  • Women's hockey: Laurier was already known to be the next host here, same with Alberta in 2012. Both schools are pretty dominant in this sport. The University of Toronto was the only school to bid for the 2013 tournament, and received it. But as far as next year is concerned, there better be a Laurier-Guelph game come March 2011, if both schools qualify.

  • Men's volleyball: It seems like long-term planning to the extreme to reveal who will host the 2015 tournament, but no matter: Saskatchewan gets that one, with Calgary in 2014, then Laval, Queen's, and Trinity Western already given the three preceding tournaments. Hard to argue against any of those choices. Three of the next five (or five of seven if you include 2010 and 2009) will be in Canada West, which has thoroughly dominated the sport, so it's a good move from a "reward the successful" point of view.

  • Women's volleyball: The 2011 championship, already awarded to Laval, is yet another one for the Rouge et Or, going along with a couple of Vanier Cups, 2011 cross-country, 2012 men's soccer, 2013 women's rugby, 2013 men's volleyball, and 2014 women's soccer.
The U of T Varsity Blues' chances of appearing in "obscure college football scores" some time in the next 4-5 years have shot up by 4,000 per cent.

This is too good, in a football-nerd context, not too mention: Toronto has an incoming defensive back, Greg Easterbrook, who has the same name as the author of ESPN.com's eggheaded Tuesday Morning Quarterback column. The mind behind TMQ, Gregg Easterbrook, whose football obsessions include obscure colleges, conservative coaching decisions and pass-wackiness, is the one with the extra G.

One can only hope this gets the Varsity Blues a mention on TMQ at some point, notwithstanding that Page 2 hasn't been hip since Varsity Blues first became a staple of late-night cable programming.

It's nice, at the risk of playing the Canadian who clings to any mention of the country in the U.S. media, to think the other Easterbrook has a secret fascination with CIS football. He did mention then-McMaster star Kojo Aidoo in his annual nonsensical mock draft column. The Queen's Golden Gaels were also mentioned last fall for executing a couple daring third-down gambles while closing out Laval in the Mitchell Bowl.

There was some hedging over whether it was worth posting about Easterbrook. Football recruiting news is handled very well by Canada Football Chat and the 25 schools planning to participate in CIS football this season. For the rest of us, there so much uncertainty over what those players might become in a few years. However, The Sporting Blog had a post on Tuesday about some college basketball recruits with odd names, so the attitude was, whatthehell.

All that is known about Easterbrook is he played at Ernestown Secondary School near Kingston, whose program is only two years old. He presumably appreciates football success can be a long time in the waiting for a school, not a bad understanding to bring to a Toronto team trying to turn the corner under coach Greg DeLaval.
"U of T went 49 football games without a win. That's nothing.

"Ernestown Secondary School went forty-eight years without a victory on the gridiron." (Sept. 18, 2008)
The Varsity Blues should seize the day with their Greg Easterbrook, if he becomes a starter. As TMQ would say, be bold and the football gods will smile upon you, U of T.

(Totally self-indulgent, I know.)
The University Cup is coming back to the Prairies, as the University of Saskatchewan has been awarded the 2013 and 2014 men's hockey nationals.

The U of S beat out a trio of Canada West schools (Alberta, Calgary and Regina) along with a lone bid from the AUS in Dalhousie, and newcomers Nipissing out of the OUA to host the championships.

No surprise that this tourna
ment is coming west after Lakehead hosted the last two national tournaments, and with UNB hosting the 2011 and 2012 tournaments. The CIS has stuck with the recipe of rotating the tournament between the conferences, and with four bids from Canada West schools they had a strong pool to choose from.

Saskatoon is no stranger to hosting the tournament after staging the event for three consecutive years between 1998 and 2000, when the tournament was played exclusively out of Saskatchewan Place (now Credit Union Centre), the home of the WHL's Saskatoon Blades. Those three tournaments were the three most successful attendance-wise in the tournament's history with 37,121 spectators in 1998, 37,184 fans in 1999 and a single-year record of 40,956 in 2000.

Credit Union Centre will surely be the home of the University Cup come 2013, and while the arena has seen many changes since 2000 thanks to its hosting of the World Junior Championships this past season, one thing should remain the same when the U of S once again hosts the University Cup – record crowds.

All three of the years the Huskies hosted the tournament at Sask. Place between '98-'00, the Sled Dogs were unable to make it to the championship final yet the fans flocked to both the Huskies games and the rest of the tournament which featured seven games total. That bodes well for another terrific set of tournaments attendance-wise, and don't be surprised to see that 2000 record eclipsed especially if the Huskies make an appearance in the final.

With the Huskies in desperate need for a new home to replace their decrepit home Rutherford Rink on the campus of the U of S, it will be interesting to see what the announcement of the Huskies landing the University Cup has on plans for a new rink.

As
Darren Zary from The Star Phoenix reported last month, the university's master plan development, dubbed College Quarter, which will feature student residences among other things, has plans for a twin arena. That College Quarter project is currently in the feedback from the public stage, which essentially means “it's going to take a while for anything to happen” as Rob Pettapiece summed up so aptly to me.

That is exactly the case, with projects like this taking years to go from the proposal state to actually getting a shovel in the ground. Rumours have surfaced intermittently over the years that the U of S was going to pull the trigger on building a new rink, and of course those rumours have never led to a new home for the Huskies. This project seems different though.

If the Huskies hype these national tournaments to the level I know they can (and expect them to) it could do wonders for stirring support for the College Quarter plan. While you won't see any games on the U of S campus come 2013/14 at the University Cup, don't discount the impact hosting nationals will have on the Dogs getting a new kennel on their campus in the next decade – especially if they find a way to capture that elusive national championship.

Related:
Dalhousie loses bid to host CIS hockey championship (Glenn MacDonald, The Chronicle Herald)

[Cross-posted to
South Campus Sports.]

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