Football: The same issue (if it's even a issue) continues...

Three years ago I pointed out that only six teams accounted for 75% of the conference champions (and therefore the bowl game participants) in the ten seasons from 2001 to 2010: Laval, Saint Mary's, Saskatchewan, Calgary, Western, and McMaster.

Since then, here are our conference winners, from west to east:

CW: Calgary, Calgary, Calgary
OUA: McMaster, McMaster, Western
RSEQ: Laval, Laval, Laval
AUS: Acadia, Acadia, Mount Allison

Notice any patterns?

The only conference to go outside of our "chosen six" group from the first decade of the 2000s cannot be applauded for helping competitive balance nationally, as they lost the first of those bowl games by 24, the next one by 35, and probably the third by 20 or more when the dust settles on Saturday. (Those scores, as you all surely know, come after semifinal losses of 28, 24, and 16 in '08 through '10 — but that is another issue entirely.) Though a tip of the cap is due to Mount A for making it this far, even if the local paper thinks their opponent is called the "Verte et Or."

Drop the AUS, and the other conference championships in the seven years since Saskatchewan last won break down like this:

7 Laval
6 Calgary
4 Western
2 McMaster
1 Manitoba
1 Queen's
All other programs tied for 0

So while previously it was our "chosen six" taking 75% of the bowl game spots in ten years, now our new "chosen four" (Laval, Calgary, Western, McMaster) take 19 out of 28, or 68% overall, and 90% of the spots in their three conferences alone.

In that post in 2010 I asked you to imagine putting six teams in one division and awarding them three of the four Mitchell and Uteck Bowl berths every year, giving the other spot to the best of the remaining 20-something programs. Madness, right? Nobody would go along with that.

Now it's down to just four teams, and the rule is something like "award them three berths, except in leap years when they get two." Or "award them three berths every year and the other one goes to a team they can all beat by multiple touchdowns."

Maybe there is no problem here, maybe CIS football is better with the big programs always playing at the end. But whatever is going on, over three years we haven't seen much change.
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  2. Reset the playoffs post the conference championship to 6 teams (4 conference champs + 2 wildcards selected by the FRC) and this issue is for the most part moot. Your final 4 will be 4 teams that either were the best in class (#1 and #2 ranked) or played their way in (won a wildcard game against a respected opponent) and you will without debate have the best teams present. The current format is terrible and puts the quality of the match-ups at risk on an annual basis.

  3. It feels like what we're really talking about here is getting rid of an automatic bid for the AUS, in exchange for a chance for the fourth bid to go to a second team from one of the other three conferences?

    I just don't know how this could be done feasibly without adding two more weeks of post-season play (for a 4-team playoff between the AUS champion and runner-up from the other three) or going to a NCAA system where those 4 teams (AUS champ + runners up) are pooled and the voters file rankings again. Whoever is ranked highest gets the fourth bid. If there was greater parity in the other conferences, I could see an argument that it's not fair that SMU (usually) gets an automatic trip to the Vanier semis, but since Laval and Calgary are pretty well in the same boat, it may hurt the argument.

    1. Yes and no. We're talking about the lack of AUS success nationally, true, but also the "forgone conclusion" nature of most regular-season play in the other conferences, hence the list at the end there. I don't know how to fix it, but I wanted to point it out again this year as I was disappointed that the last three years played out -- mostly -- without surprise or drama.

    2. You mean to tell me it's not fun being able to predict the Yates matchup and Canada West/RSEQ champions before a game's even been played? (Sarcasm in case not obvious)

      Personally, this year was a bit more fun than last year (where a Mac-Laval final was a foregone conclusion) if only for some of the middle-of-the-pack stories to follow. Namely, Montreal actually competing with Laval; Bishop's finishing second; Toronto almost making the playoffs(!). But yeah, disappointing that there was no real challenge to the top spots.