2016 Top Ten
Surprised this hasn't already been started, or maybe those who have been here longer than I are waiting for a riper time. In any case;
1. UBC: The champs until they are knocked off the pedestal. With Blake Knill, fresh off his first defeat of a Quebec team in a longgggg time, and Michael O'Connor these guys could repeat. They are also the beneficiary of what I think is a changing of the guard is Canwest as Calgary lost their master recruiter and ended up having no Vaniers to show for their epic run. Solid recruiting class and, as Bill and Tom have shown us, a QB/Coach tandem goes a long way.
2/3. Western/Montreal: While I am ALWAYS tentative of Western, especially placing them ahead of any Quebec heavyweights, this could be their year. Their qb situation might not be the best but they always have talent everywhere else and Marshall is a very good coach. I'm giving them the edge over Guelph as Guelph lost some key players on the defense and I don't think Guelph's QB situation is good enough to outweigh what I think is a talent disparity between the two teams.
Montreal has earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt buttttttt a tight game against Laurier does not bode well. I don't place too much stock in exhibition games but we do expect to see a lopsided score in that game. Still, any team who can take some of the best CEGEP players and give them top of the line coaching and training is going to be formidable on the field. Most likely it will the same old Blue vs. Red in Quebec and regardless of who wins that game the OUA champ will be in tough.
4. Calgary. Another team that has earned the benefit of the doubt. Despite losing in the Canwest finals with a loaded team and a record-setting QB they have reloaded again. Calgary has been so good for so long I feel like they can make a run on pride alone.
5. Guelph. Normally, not seeing Laval up to this point would be cause for outrage and probably a call for concussion protocol on my end but we'll get to them shortly. Guelph has done some great recruiting, they got valuable experience getting thumped by U de M last year, and their coaching situation may actually be improved. If the new HC can increase output on the field while Stu maintains their top flight organization these guys could make a Vanier run.
6. Laval. As with U de M I don't like to put too much stock into exhibition games but it feels like we need to sound the alarms. When UBC came in and rolled Laval we could point to Blake and Mike and say wellllll that's a pretty serious tandem. When Carleton walked in with JESSE MILLS, the guy who left SMU, and Steve Sumarrah, the guy who SMU booted and went up 21 points at half, something must be wrong. Laval is still a top-flight program, the gold standard for CIS football both in terms of production and product, but I feel like they are losing steam a bit. It's hard to stay on top and with so many teams, both in and outside of the Q, trying to eat off the CEGEP plate we may see a decline in the Red and Gold machine. That being said, a declining Laval is still capable of boring us all to death with anotherrrrrr Vanier cup.
6. Mac. Ptaszek was a great coach, for my money the only guy who could go toe to toe with Knill, Constantine, and Maccocia. That being said, there was an easily noticeable dropoff between first halved and second halves in big games for Mac. Whether that is a attributable to Coach P I do not know, all I am saying is the man is not infallible and he is being replaced by a hell of a DC. Add in Flaxman for recruiting and the coaching staff might actually be stronger than before. In terms of players they have a great QB and a lot of veterans on that offense which I think will mean A LOT of points. They return their whole secondary which Knox loves so he can send his cover 0 pressures that were so prevalent during their 2011-2014 run. I see this team, and the next team, as the conference/nation darkhorses.
7. Carleton. This pains me greatly but they might be about to take the next step. Going into Laval and losing a close one is a hell of a feat, going into Laval and going up on their starters by 21 points is a shocker. Like I have said, ad nauseum, I don't put too much stock in exhibition games but still we must take notice of that one. A veteran squad who has been splashing cash for a full 3 seasons now, they certainly have the trenches, running game, and defense to run with the big dogs. The million dollar question is can Sumarrah and Mills take them passed the contenders?
8. Manitoba. I know they took a huge blow in losing their stud freshman RB but Dobie is a great coach and they had a solid recruiting class. I actually trust this team over Calgary but Calgary's recent track record can't be denied.
9. Laurier. For the millionth time, they are just exhibition games, but to go into CEPSUM and give the Bleu a tough game is an accomplishment. To do so without a proven QB or RB is nothing short of astounding. Faulds is clearly making waves in the OUA as he brings the once proud Golden Hawks back to prominence. It appears the middle tier of the OUA is getting more competitive with Carleton and WLU, if Queens and Ottawa can bring it week in and week out we may actually have some exciting playoff games all the way through!
10. Concordia. I was tempted to throw Mcgill in here but I admit I feared being laughed right off the internet by the members here. I think the Anglo schools are on the rise in La Belle province after what seems like an eternity of being doormats for the 3 French schools. Mickey Donovan was a great player and learned recruiting from one of the best at Western. They certainly won't beat either the Red or Blue in the playoffs but they could give them a decent game, which is enough to be tenth best in the nation.
Others to watch
Ottawa- I know we said this last season but I think they may be turning a corner. Barresi is a fantastic offensive mind and bringing in a DC and a Recruiting specialist from Quebec was a great move. Ottawa is situated in an odd place, not equipped to battle hard in southern Ontario so they need to score some from Quebec. If Arruda is any indication, they could make moves.
Mcgill- Relentless recruiting and an actual desire to succeed could yield some solid results. They're a long way off but with Bishops in the dumpster and Sherby losing the Messiah they could make the playoffs.
Saskatchewan- Even the Dogs on here are getting tired of the Towriss era but they gave Calgary a hell of a game in the playoffs. Saskatchewan is a proud province with a lot of talent and this program has a rich history.