Our Andrew Bucholtz has already covered off the four conference championship games from the weekend over at 55 Yard Line, giving them about as much virtual ink as I would, so no need for me to recap the football-playin' again here.
His headline and lede, though, both reference how, in recent years, the same teams seem to win. This is something that's been pointed out before, and it's one of a few reasons I have a hard time following CIS football.
Another one can be summed up by four numbers:
49, 19, 23, 22.
The more astute among you already know that those are the margins of victory from yesterday's and Friday's championship games. Granted, it was "only" 27-13 after three quarters of the Hardy Cup, before Calgary put up a billion points on interception returns. In fact, three of the four games were within two scores entering the fourth.
But if a game ends with one team up by 19, and that's the closest one of the weekend, it's fair to say there wasn't much drama, and frankly not much reason to watch all the way to the end.
And this problem is happening more and more lately.
In the years 2005 through 2008, the median margin of victory was 17. This is already quite high, but let's take it on faith that "normal" years mean half the regular-season and playoff games are decided by 17 or more points. (Coincidentally, 17 points is also the cutoff for two- vs. three-score games.)
In 2009 through 2011, 56% of games were decided by 17 points or more. Not a large increase by any means. 1 game in 20, really. But when you're playing 120 total, across the country ... well, it starts to get noticed.
The average margin of victory has also crept up: beginning in 2005, it was a U of T-inflated 22.4, then 19.2 and 19.1 the next two years, 21.2 in 2008, then 20.5, 21.9, and finally 21.5 this year (with three games to go).
But anyone who's spent two minutes looking at the results in this league would not be surprised to know that the average is even higher in the OUA, every single year, topping 21 all years and even reaching 25 (!) in 2008 and 2011.
Overall, Ontario games have had a margin of 23.8 points in the last four years, nearly a converted touchdown ahead of Canada West (17.0), where parity and chaos alternately reign. The other two conferences are a solid pair of rouges behind (21.4 for the AUS, 21.9 for Quebec). If you have basement-dwellers — and I mean serious basements, accessible only by mineshaft — then of course the real contenders are going to run up some ridiculous scores.
(Brief sidebar: someone asked me the other day why Waterloo even has sports teams. He was asking somewhat as a joke, because they don't get blown out of the water like this, but also semi-seriously because it's been a long time since they've won a conference championship in any major CIS sport, never mind just football. Let's just say flags better fly forever, because you probably won't see any new ones at Waterloo for a while.)
I should point out that these trends could all reverse next year, and we could enjoy an overload of one-point games every weekend. Waterloo or York (or McGill or Mount Allison) could all suddenly become competitive. But given that those four teams, over the last five years, are 22-132, a record worthy of Bart Andrus or Charlie Taaffe, I don't know how likely that is. And I don't know at which point those in charge will look at those records, and the losses of 40 (50? 70?) points, and wonder if that justifies the cost of fielding a football team.