2012 CIS Football Preview

Last year in August I began writing my 2011 CIS Preview with the title CIS Keeps Getting Better as I looked to the future of a league ready to break out. I did not think that 2011 would be the year that the CIS captured the hearts and minds of football fans but I did believe that the CIS was a great league ready to be noticed. In 2011 they showed exactly that as the 2011 CIS season was a great one. Superstars emerged like Tyler Varga, Billy Greene, and Kyle Quinlan who all had their schools and a nation watching. Games were great with conferences no longer being dominated by the top few teams with only one team remaining undefeated all year. There was also plenty of stories to talk about with ineligible players and the attempted recovery of a program. It was a very interesting year and it gave the CIS a good year to build from as they look to continue to grow. The CIS is a great league with great talent but it does not get the recognition that it deserves. A large part of this is the lack of media coverage for the league with no national TV deal to speak of. Instead it is up to the smaller local channels and companies to buy the rights with very little competition. The West and the East boast the biggest TV deal as Shaw TV covers CWUAA and Eastlink carries the AUS. In the middle of the country there is very little as The Score shows one game a week for the OUA and the RSEQ has essentially no coverage until playoffs. This is a major obstacle for the CIS as they rarely get the exposure they need to expand and become a formidable league. The CIS hopes to change this as they will look to 2012 to continue to impress football fans across the country and maybe force a major network to pick up more than just the playoffs and Vanier Cup. If they can get a TV deal that can be broadcast nationally the league will only benefit. Of course the deal will not involve full coverage and a big production but having at least one game featured in each region on a major sports network could change a lot for the league. The CIS will only stay as a small league with very little appeal unless they can show the skill involved with their play. The league is at a point in 2012 where they seem very close to becoming a much bigger league but they need a little bit of luck and some skill if they hope to make it to a new level. Last year they began to take one step towards this national recognition as they signed a deal with the CFL to follow the Grey Cup. It could not have happened at a better time as they began the deal in Vancouver before the 99th Grey Cup. This year the CIS will piggyback the biggest celebration of Canadian football to ever be seen in Canada. The 100th Grey Cup will be in Toronto this year as the CFL celebrates 100 years of football with plenty of history being highlighted. Along with this will be the Grey Cup Festival in November as a weeklong festival in Toronto will continue to celebrate the Canadian game leading up to the biggest Grey Cup. Just before this sold out Grey Cup game will be the 48th Vanier Cup as it will act as a prelude to the Grey Cup with many hoping it acts as a great warm up to what many hope will be a great game. This provides a big chance for the CIS as they will see more eyes than ever focused on them as they hope to repeat the performance of last year to keep everyone watching.

 

If they have a season that is anything like last year there is a good chance that these networks will take notice and along with them comes the fans. In 2011 the CIS season was extremely entertaining as only one team ended the season undefeated and they didn’t move on to the Vanier Cup. Throughout the season the teams in the CIS fought as hard as they could to make the playoffs. The teams that did make it all deserved to be there and all put on a great show while a bigger audience watched. The 2011 CIS playoffs were not nearly a reflection of the great season as teams bulldozed over one another to earn their next ticket. Most games ended in ridiculous scores as the truly great teams emerged as the deserving Vanier Cup participants. These two teams were the McMaster Marauders and the legendary Laval Rouge et Or. Many expected the Rouge et Or to dominate the Marauders as Laval had lost only one game all season and proved to be a force in the playoffs. The Marauders had something else in mind though as they were able to challenge the Rouge et Or the entire way through the game. After Mac went ahead in the first half, shutting out Laval, it seemed that the big red machine had finally been solved. Then came the second half as Laval mounted a massive comeback that ended with them kicking a field goal to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Overtime seemingly solved nothing as both teams continued to fight back and forth. Then a field goal by McMaster ended the game with a 41-38 win for the Marauders. It was one of the best football games that I can personally remember as it featured everything from a comeback to big defensive plays and of course big offensive plays. It was simply spectacular and this year the CIS hopes to repeat this performance this year as a new season approaches with new hopes and new dreams of winning the Vanier Cup during the 100th Grey Cup Festival. It promises to be another unpredictable season with anything possible which makes everything more exciting.

 

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