AMERICAN COLLEGE SPORTS MEETS ALICE IN WONDERLAND
The NCAA apocalypse is officially upon us this week as evidenced by the Dallas-based Texas Christian University joining the Big East Conference (hello Rhode Island rivalry). The move follows close on the heels of Nebraska leaving the Big 12, which is now a ten-team league, and moving to the Big-10, which is now, you guessed it, a twelve-team league. By the same logic, the CIS should be inviting the Universidad Tecnologico Monterrey to cement its budding geographical rivalry with Lakehead (or was that Lethbridge).
Of course, it is football that is driving this madness and while the gate and television revenue in Canadian collegiate football is not even in the same stratosphere, Canadian universities are spared both from the absurd jockeying around the country of teams leaving one conference for another, and the pristine fashion contest before the BCS voters (and computers) every December in lieu of a real college football playoff.
Cross country may not have done a remarkable job of marketing itself compared to some sports, but when it comes to comparing how a national champion is crowned it sure has Division-I football beat. Especially when you consider that in 30 minutes, an 11th ranked team like Florida State’s men can actually contest for the national championship, as they did, finishing 2nd. In football, they might have had the luxury of facing 6-6 Timbuktu State in the Papa John’s Bowl.
CONGRATS TO CANADIANS GETTING IT DONE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER
Within one week span we saw examples of Canadians doing great things on both sides of the border. At the CIS Championships in Sherbrooke, where the University of Guelph once again put on a clinic, but were challenged by a strong men’s team from Windsor and an even stronger women’s team from McMaster led by individual winner Jess Pearo. Nobody wants to see one team dominate the CIS forever but Guelph has raised the bar to a level I cannot remember in the distance events (feel free to contradict me nitpicky historians, but remember I was born in 1982 and didn’t start following the sport until 2000) and it is up to other CIS schools to meet that challenge. Competiton is a good thing.
The following week in Terre Haute, Sheila Reid led her Villanova teammates to victory with an individual win of her own, with Karen Harvey’s Florida State women very close behind. Between Florida State, West Virginia, Iona and North Carolina, the day when a Canadian coach captures an NCAA crown for the first time may be close at hand.
WE’RE NOT BRAGGING BUT….
….there are days the TnfNorth voters must wake up, look themselves in the mirror and feel like they are just shitting greatness. Maybe not. Regardless, between the CIS, OFSAA and BC High School polls, our voters correctly predicted eight of the ten individual and team winners. Special thanks to Chris Moulton, Stephen Gersten, Steve Weiler, Adam Stacey, Mark Kitely, Robert Kitz, John Lofranco, Adrian Lambert, Ben Kotanen, Nick Stoffberg, Keith Butler, Jonah Gowans, Bill Cunliffe, Kevin Dillon, David Scarrow and Randy Givogue for making it happen.
The goals for next year are to add more provinces, more voters in each poll and some female representation among the voters. Of course, on any tight ship the weak must be cast into sea and we will definitely have to cut some of the dumber poll voters out of the mix (yes, I voted for Windsor to win the men's crown at one point).
HERE AND THERE
Plans are in the works to hopefully re-launch the Festival of Excellence this spring. It is hard to know what goes on behind the scenes but after the special show put forth in 2009 it was disappointing to see the meet take a hiatus in 2010….Kevin Sullivan appears to have made a transition to another phase in his career detailed in the most recent Athletics Canada newsletter and in an article in next month’s Athletics Magazine. We wish him well.