U Sports football
|Current season, competition or edition:
2016 CIS football season
|Formerly||CIAU football, CIS football|
|No. of teams||27, in four conferences|
|Laval Rouge et Or|
|Most titles||Laval Rouge et Or (9)|
|TV partner(s)||Sportsnet/The Score Television Network/Shaw TV(English)
U Sports football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under the auspices of U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Twenty-seven teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, drawing from the four regional associations of U Sports: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec and Atlantic University Sport. At the end of every season, the champions of each conference advance to semifinal bowl games; the winners of these meet in the Vanier Cup national championship.
The origins of North American football can be traced here, where the first documented game was played at University College at the University of Toronto in 1861. A number of U Sports programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game we now know as Canadian football began. In 1874, McGill University (Montreal) challenged Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) to a series of games.
The Grey Cup, the championship trophy of the professional Canadian Football League (CFL) since its founding in the 1950s, was originally contested by teams from the University of Toronto and Queen's University and other amateur teams since 1909. Many U Sports players have gone on to professional careers in the CFL and elsewhere; a number are drafted annually in the Canadian College Draft. In 2015, there were a record 199 CIS alumni on CFL rosters, including 136 on active rosters, 41 on injured lists, 20 on practice rosters, one on suspended lists and one on disabled lists.
The regular season is eight to nine weeks long, depending on the conference, and, as of 2015, opens on the last Sunday of August. Teams play eight regular season games and regular season games are in-conference with the exception of limited interlocking play between the Quebec and Atlantic conferences. Throughout the season, there are featured homecoming and rivalry games in most regions. Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Hec Crighton Trophy is awarded annually to the MVP of the CIS.
After the regular season, single elimination playoff games are held between the top teams in each conference to determine conference champions. In the Canada West and Quebec conferences, the top four teams qualify for the playoffs, while in the Atlantic conference the top three teams qualify. In Ontario, the top six teams qualify with the top two teams receiving playoff byes to the next round. Because the OUA teams have conference playoffs that last three weeks instead of two, the first round of the post-season in the OUA occurs during the same week that each of the other three conferences are playing their last regular season games. Each conference has its own championship trophy; the Hardy Trophy in the West, the Yates Cup in Ontario, the Dunsmore Cup in Quebec and the Jewett Trophy in the Atlantic conference. The conference champions proceed to national semifinal bowl games: the Mitchell Bowl and the Uteck Bowl. The participant conferences of each bowl are determined several years in advance on a rotating basis.
The winners of each bowl game meet in the Vanier Cup national championship, first established in 1965 and named in honour of Governor General Georges Vanier. The game was held in Toronto every year through 2003 when host conference bids were first accepted, yielding a move to Hamilton for 2004 and 2005, followed by Saskatoon in 2006. In 2007, the game returned to Toronto, along with the Grey Cup, which was hosted there for the first time since 1992. The Vanier Cup game moved back to Hamilton in 2008 before heading to Quebec City for the 2009 and 2010 games. The 2011 Vanier Cup was played in the newly renovated BC Place in Vancouver. Quebec City again hosted the game in 2012 and 2013 before Montreal hosted the 50th Vanier Cup in 2014. Quebec City hosted the game again in 2015. The Vanier cup games will be played in Hamilton in 2016 and 2017.
There have recently been efforts at establishing new varsity football programs at institutions that currently do not have teams. A group of alumni from Carleton University in Ottawa have successfully revived that school's program which returned in 2013. The team is a member of the Ontario University Athletics conference of Canadian Interuniversity Sport, returning football to Carleton University after a 15-year absence.
Because the AUS is the smallest conference in the CIS, there has been talk of adding more teams there, as well. There has been interest expressed in starting a team at the Université de Moncton, due to the recent construction of Moncton Stadium. As of May 2011, the athletics department has submitted a feasibility report to the school's president and are going to base a large part of their decision upon how the Uteck Bowl in 2011 is received by the fans in Moncton. Additionally, a club team league, the Atlantic Football League, features four universities in what some hope will lead to varsity teams featured at some of these schools.
Following their successful application to become full-members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, the UBC Okanagan Heat are investigating the feasibility of starting their own football program, likely to be partnered with the existing CJFL's Okanagan Sun. UBCO would host the Sun in much the same way that the University of Regina was paired with the Prairie Football Conference's Regina Rams. Due to a moratorium that Canada West has placed on new entries, the earliest that UBCO could apply would be in 2015. If UBCO submits a formal proposal for a football program, they would need five of the six existing programs to approve the move and the earliest they would begin play would be 2016.
The University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières is also exploring the possibility of adding a football program with the launch planned for the 2017 season. The program would be similar to Carleton University's in that there would be private funding from football alumni, but operated by shareholders. As of April 2015, $800,000 of the required $3 million had been raised in support of the varsity sport at UQTR. The capacity of the football stadium would be increased from 2000 to 6270 seats. The UQTR Patriotes previously fielded a senior varsity team from 1971 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979.
Proposed interconference consortium
In February 2015, businessman David Dube (an alumnus and supporter of the Saskatchewan Huskies) and Jim Mullin announced a proposal for a consortium known as the "Northern 8", which would organize interconference games between its member schools. Dube felt that this plan could help improve the prominence of CIS football on a national basis outside of the post-season (which, as of the 2014 season, was the only period of the season that featured nationally-televised CIS games), as it would allow a nationally-televised package of regular season games to be sold to a major broadcaster. The Northern 8 would be structured as a non-profit corporation, and would subsidize production costs for its telecasts: profits would be distributed to non-member schools. It would start with 8 teams, but could expand to 10 in the future. The Canada West conference has backed the proposal, although it must also be discussed with CIS representatives: the OUA showed concerns for the plan due to travel costs and its effects on standings.
|Institution||Team||City||Province||First season||Head coach||Enrollment||Endowment||Football stadium||Capacity||Hardy Trophies||Vanier Cups|
|University of British Columbia||Thunderbirds||Vancouver||BC||1923||Blake Nill||49,166||$1.3B||Thunderbird Stadium||3,500||14||3|
|University of Calgary||Dinos||Calgary||AB||1964||Wayne Harris, Jr.||27,802||$790.6M||McMahon Stadium||35,650||15||4|
|University of Alberta||Golden Bears||Edmonton||AB||1910||Chris Morris||39,312||$1.0B||Foote Field||3,500||18||3|
|University of Saskatchewan||Huskies||Saskatoon||SK||1912||Brian Towriss||21,168||$214M||Griffiths Stadium||6,171||20||3|
|University of Regina||Rams||Regina||SK||1999||Mike Gibson||12,270||$25.9M||Mosaic Stadium||33,000||1||0|
|University of Manitoba||Bisons||Winnipeg||MB||1920||Brian Dobie||28,335||$424M||Investors Group Field||33,422||11||3|
|Institution||Team||City||Province||First season||Head coach||Enrollment||Endowment||Football stadium||Capacity||Dunsmore Cups||Vanier Cups|
|Concordia University||Stingers||Montreal||QC||1974||Mickey Donovan||38,809||$136.7M||Concordia Stadium||4,000||3||0|
|Université de Montréal||Carabins||Montreal||QC||2002||Danny Maciocia||55,540||$276.5M||CEPSUM Stadium||5,100||2||1|
|McGill University||Redmen||Montreal||QC||1898||Ronald Hilaire||39,497||$1.45B||Molson Stadium||25,012||3||1|
|Université Laval||Rouge et Or||Quebec City||QC||1996||Glen Constantin||37,591||$108.3M||PEPS Stadium||12,257||13||9|
|Université de Sherbrooke||Vert et Or||Sherbrooke||QC||1971||David Lessard||35,000||---||Université de Sherbrooke Stadium||3,359||0||0|
|Bishop's University||Gaiters||Sherbrooke||QC||1884||Kevin Mackey||1,817||$32.5M||Coulter Field||2,200||4||0|
|Institution||Team||City||Province||First season||Head coach||Enrollment||Endowment||Football stadium||Capacity||Jewett Trophies||Vanier Cups|
|Acadia University||Axemen||Wolfville||NS||1957||Jeff Cummins||4,358||$96M||Raymond Field||3,000||12||2|
|Mount Allison University||Mounties||Sackville||NB||1955||Scott Brady||2,694||$110M||MacAulay Field||2,500||5||0|
|Saint Francis Xavier University||X-Men||Antigonish||NS||1954||Gary Waterman||5,158||$100M||Oland Stadium||4,000||11||1|
|Saint Mary's University||Huskies||Halifax||NS||1956||James Colzie III||7,586||$52.9M||Huskies Stadium||4,000||24||3|
Awards and the annual All-Canadian Team
There are post-season awards for on-the-field excellence. The players deemed to be the best at each position are named to the annual All-Canadian Football Team as first or second team players.
Additionally there are a number of individual awards for categories like "best defensive player".
CIS football players in the professional leagues
As of 2014, the CIS had produced 32 players who have earned a spot on an NFL roster (including three who did not play a regular season game; players listed in chronological order by entry year in NFL):
1945 Joe Krol, Western Ontario, K/RB.
1947 Les Lear, Manitoba, OG/OT.
1960 Bill Crawford, UBC, OG.
1965 Jim Young, Queen's, RB/R.
1976 Brian Fryer, Alberta, R.
1979 Ken Clark, Saint Mary's, P.
1986 Mike Schad, Queen's, OG.
1987 Brian Belway, Calgary, DE.
1987 Dave Sparenberg, Western Ontario, OG.
1987 Brant Bengen, UBC and Idaho, WR.
1988 Dean Dorsey, Toronto, K.
1992 Tyrone Williams, Western Ontario, WR.
1995 Tim Tindale, Western Ontario, RB.
1995 Mark Montreuil, Concordia, CB.
1995 Mark Hatfield, Bishop's, OL.
1996 Grayson Shillingford, UBC, SB.
1998 Jerome Pathon, Acadia & U. of Washington, R.
2001 Randy Chevrier, McGill, LS/DE.
2000 J. P. Darche, McGill, LS/LB.
2003 Israel Idonije, Manitoba, DL.
2004 Steve Morley, Saint Mary's, OG/OT.
2006 Daniel Federkeil, Calgary, DE.
2006 Jon Ryan, Regina, K.
2008 Sam Giguere, Sherbrooke, WR
2009 Vaughn Martin, Western Ontario, DL.
2010 Cory Greenwood, Concordia, LB
2010 Joel Reinders, Waterloo, OT
2011 Matt O'Donnell, Queen's OT
2012 Akiem Hicks, Regina, DT
2013 Stefan Charles, Regina, DT
2014 Henoc Muamba, St.FX, LB
2014 David Foucault, Montreal, OL
2014 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill, OL
In the 2009 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers selected defensive lineman Vaughn Martin from Western Ontario in the fourth round. Martin became the first CIS underclassman to be selected in the NFL draft.
The following is a list of recent numbers from the CFL Draft, which is an annual seven round event with a current maximum of 63 players drafted. The high-water mark of 59 players from the CIS drafted was recorded in the 2014 CFL Draft, which was the most since 1978.
44 CIS players drafted in the 2015 draft
59 CIS players drafted in the 2014 draft
44 CIS players drafted in the 2013 draft
24 CIS players drafted in the 2012 draft
34 CIS players drafted in the 2011 draft
36 CIS players drafted in the 2010 draft
38 CIS players drafted in the 2009 draft
33 CIS players drafted in the 2008 draft
31 CIS players drafted in the 2007 draft
26 CIS players drafted in the 2006 draft
- Canadian Junior Football League, Quebec Junior Football League
- Football Canada
- Canadian football
- Canadian Football League
- College football
- Canadian Interuniversity Sport
- Canadian Colleges Athletic Association
- Comparison of Canadian and American football
- List of Canadian Football stadia by capacity
- 199 CIS grads on CFL opening-day rosters
- http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Carleton+football+veteran+celebrates+team+revival/5060825/story.html Carleton football veteran celebrates team’s revival
- http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/07/26/nb-iaaf-games-moncton-legacy-610.html University ponders legacy after IAAF games
- http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1402895 U de M continues to study viability of university football
- http://dalnews.dal.ca/2010/03/22/football.html Pigskin promise
- UBC Okanagan makes the grade with Canada West
- Delay to expand campus athletics due to league’s pending strategic review
- UBC Okanagan and Okanagan Sun eye up football partnership
- A new university team from 2017
- Le retour d'une équipe de football universitaire à l'UQTR?
- The Quebec University Football League (QUFL) will have soon a seventh team.
- A History of Canadian University Football
- CIS Helmet History: UQTR Patriotes
- "Is CIS football 'super league' in the works?". TSN.ca. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- "Dube still chasing national university football series". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- 192 CIS grads on CFL opening-day rosters