The fans have spoken!
Back in 2007 the football community got together to start their own Top 10 ranking system. Prior to the formation of the UFRC ranking system there was always a lot of criticism for the weekly Top 10 lists released by the CIS. As a result a group of fans in the online community decided to take it upon themselves to post a Top 10 and see how their opinions would match up.
Since then the group has grown in numbers and now enters its fourth season (third full season) as strong as ever. With the early start of the OUA season days away, the committee, consisting of fans, former players, family members of current players and members of the media, compiled a Preseason Top 10 heading into 2010.
For the first time in the preseason poll, and only the third time in the 22 weeks these rankings have run, a team other than the Rouge et Or claims the top spot in the nation. As competition begins last season’s Vanier Cup finalists Calgary Dinos (#1) are viewed as the premier program in the nation. Blake Nill returns many starters to his Calgary team, including All Canadian Quarterback and Hec Crighton winner Erik Glavic.
The Dinos look to improve upon the way their season ended last year, with a narrow loss to Queen’s in Quebec City on the last week of the season, and the Fans believe they have a legitimate shot at making that dream a reality.
In the runner-up position heading into the season lands the Saskatchewan Huskies (#2), the Hardy Cup finalists, who are also looking to make amends to a less than favourable end to 2009. The Huskies were a botched field goal away from ousting the Dinos and one gets the sense they’re eagerly awaiting the rematch; thankfully for them they will not have to wait long as the two will meet in Week 1.
Clearly this shows that the winner of the West will be poised to succeed this coming year.
Finding a new and somewhat unusual home in the rankings is the Laval Rouge et Or (#3), dropping further than they ever have in the Fan’s Poll. The Mitchell Bowl finalists are going through a number of significant changes for the coming year, including a new Offensive Coordinator in Marco Iadeluca to teach a new, as of yet undeclared Quarterback to fill the shoes of former Hec Creighton winner Benoit Groulx (who takes over the reigns as the new Offensive Coordinator at Bishop’s this season).
There are questions to be answered at Laval and until they see the results the Fans seem ready to wait before crowning them best team in the nation once again.
The Ottawa Gee Gees (#4) head into the year as the Yates Cup favourites. After losing out to McMaster in the OUA quarter-finals last season the Gee Gees welcome a new Head Coach and now enter the season with high expectations. A lot of those expectations will lay with incumbent QB Brad Sinopoli as he heads up a veteran team with plenty of depth.
Rounding out the top five is the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (#5). Losing at home in the semi-finals to Western last season Laurier also hopes to find a better result in 2010. Many believe with the strength of their recruiting class and transfers – including a number from the suspended Waterloo Warriors program – will allow the Hawks to make a statement in Ontario.
The McMaster Marauders (#6) follow right behind Laurier in the rankings, continuing with the OUA trend of the Preseason Poll. Following a very tough and highly entertaining 2009 season where five teams finished the regular season with a record of 6-2 or better it may very well turn into another race to the finish in the OUA. MAC looks to play a big part in that hotly contested road to the Yates.
The Montreal Carabins (#7) have been given the confidence as the second ranked team in Quebec and the squad to give the Rouge et Or a run for their money in 2010. The Carabins were the only Quebec team to defeat Laval last season and hope to recreate that result early as the two meet up again. The St. Mary’s Huskies (#8) are considered the class of the AUS as they enter this season looking to avenge a poor showing against Calgary in the Uteck Bowl.
Rounding out the preseason edition of the rankings are the two teams that played in that amazingly entertaining Yates Cup final last year, the Western Mustangs (#9) and defending Vanier Cup champions Queen’s Golden Gaels (#10). Both teams had tremendous success last year - Queen’s most notably - however both teams also suffered key losses to their outfits.
Both team's all star Quarterbacks, Michael Faulds for Western and Danny Brannagan for Queen’s, that lead these teams have moved on along with a number of veteran starters on both sides. It is expected they will still compete in conference however until the season starts, the Fans appear willing to wait and see what the changes mean to each team.
It’s never easy to place who falls where before any teams has played a game and as a result nine other teams received votes. The Concordia Stingers fell just short of the Top 10, followed closely by Alberta and then Bishop’s. Other teams receiving votes were Sherbrooke, Manitoba, St. Francis Xavier, Regina, UBC and Mount Allison. Expect to see a lot of interesting movement over the first few weeks as everyone tries to decipher what team falls where.
Heading into the season anything can happen, however with the first game of the season only a few days away the Fans believe that these are the teams to watch out for in 2010 in CIS Football.