The concept of conferences.
I believe that one thing holding back the progress of the game is how we understand what a conference is in this country, and how that in turn crushes consensus and progress.
Follow me on this. In the US, you have conferences of schools who are like-minded and then attached to geography. In Canada, you have two conferences within political boundaries, and two regional conferences defined by their role in confederation. The size, operation or mission of the institutions involved in any of those conferences has almost zero to do with the reason they are in association with competing schools.
How can a group come to an agreement on anything when they don't even share a modus operandi on their basic approach of what university is?
I remember when UBC was looking at the NCAA and their goal was to get basketball in the West Coast Conference. Did anyone ask the WCC? All of the current members are private, faith-based institutions with all except BYU with an enrolment of 10k or less. The point is Canadian conferences are more aligned with the inaction of government structures which is then applied sport. I believe the culture of the sport and then the institution's culture is the best basis for building the right mixture of cooperation and competition.
Canada West football has few issues when it comes to direction and governance, but basketball is a 180-degree proposition. Former community colleges meshed together with giant research institutions create an imbalance in resources, competition and communication. The modern day Can West is a merger of the CWUAA and Great Plains Athletic Conference, comprised of the Winnipeg, Brandons and Reginas of the world. You could have one of those in BC alone. Bring back the GPAC! Start up the NPAC!
The RSEQ is split in the directions of size, language, competition and resources. The OUA's disparities have been thoroughly explained here.
The argument can be made that as a conference only the AUS might have it right in terms of culture, competition and shared resources. Really, any competition at the national level is the "bonus round", not the day-to-day play and in many aspects, the AUS is on the mark.
When I look back at the conference alignments of the 1960's and 70's, I think they had it more right than wrong.
The West, The Big Four, the OSLAA West and East, the MIAA.
The Big Four a.k.a. the SIFL was McGill, Toronto, Queen's and Western. Can you think of a group which is more culturally in alignment than those four central Canadian Anglo snots? Still, I guarantee football would mean more on those campuses if the core of their conference schedule was built on identifying with competition within their "club". Queen's could Kill McGill again.
Bishop's played against St. Patrick's and MacDonald College in the OSLAA. In terms of size, culture and competition the fit is now obviously with the AUS, at least for football. Here's an idea for the Gaiters. Make like a junior hockey team and buy a bus. Moncton could start a team and head to the Q. Would the bilingual universities of Ottawa and Concordia find legion with Laval, Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres (this will happen one day)? Would they take Carleton with them? Mac-Guelph-Waterloo-Windsor-York-Laurier share more in common. They were the ones shut out of the Big 4 back in the day.
The point is, something like interlock (which, along with continental non-conference games happened way more back then) would be achieved far easier since these groups could come to a resolution since schools are not coming from such divergent positions within their own conferences.
What we have now in Central Canada is a cross-wired machine with mismatched parts which drives in the circle of its' own self made rut. No one is looking for answers out of their box, because they can't even agree to what the questions are inside of it. I don't think that's the case in the Maritimes or the west when it comes to football.
I'm calling it "lamentable potential".
"New Oldsmobiles are in early this year..." -