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Thread: The 2010s: A Decade in Review

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    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Default The 2010s: A Decade in Review

    Another 10 years has passed in CIS/Usport football competition, and with the longgggg offseason now upon us I thought I would take the time and put my thoughts in writing on it. The big stories of the decade;

    A Continued Standard of Excellence

    -Laval won their first Vanier in 1999 but didn't win another until 2003. At that point they just seemed like another strong program but when they when they ended up winning another 4 to bring their total to 5 in the decade, it was clear we had a true powerhouse on our hands. Still, with Con U taking them to the absolute brink in the 2008 Dunsmore, with Queens knocking them off in 2009, and what I considered to be a great-but-limited 2010 Western team taking them to the brink again at PEPS in 2010, I wondered of their reign of dominance would extend so well into the 2010s. Despite an initial setback in 2011, they answered the bell as they would rack up another 5 Vanier Cups in the decade, cementing themselves as the gold standard of CIS football for the forseeable future.

    The Rise of New Powers

    -For those of us outside Quebec, and I think many inside it, we've viewed the Q as basically being a one-team league since the rise of Laval. Yes they would sometimes lose outside the province, and yes they lost the very occasional regular season game, but when it came to the playoffs in the Q they were unassailable. For the program best equipped to take a run at the Machine, life had been a series of lessons in humility for Montreal, though I'm sure many on here would contend they never learned that lesson. When the Carabins finally broke through in 2014 by winning at PEPS and ending Laval's Dunsmore streak at 11, they took the next steps in surviving the best both Manitoba and Mac could throw at them to bring home their first cup. Every dog has his day, but would they be a flash in the national pan? They would not, as the Carabins defeated Laval again the following year, trounced Guelph, and came up just short against the vaunted UBC Thunderbirds (more on them later). At that point I remember writing something along the lines of "While we know Laval will not curl up and die, I think we have seen an end to the unprecedented dominance they showed over the Q and the nation in the 2000s and early 2010s". When Laval got back to winning the Q in 2016, 2017, and 2018, my mental pendulum swung again and I thought it was more of the same but the Carabins did what nobody else has done since 2000, beat Laval again at PEPS in the playoffs, to close out the decade. As long as Maccocia roams the sidelines for Big Blue, they have to be counted among the few programs every year with a chance to hoist the Vanier Cup.

    -The McMaster Marauders had long been a basement dweller in the OUA, but all that changed with the hiring of Greg Marshall at the turn of the century. They won 4 OUA titles in a row but never made it to the big dance, then Coach left for the pros in what would be an ill-fated move. When they hired Coach Ptaszek in 2006 (2005?) they maintained a solid level of competition in the OUA but really broke through in 2011 when they molly-whopped the Mustangs in the Yates Cup and won in what was dubbed "The Best Game Ever" over Laval in Vancouver. This would kick off a great 4-year run in which they would take 3 Yates Cups and go 1-2 in Vanier Cups. When Coach P mirrored his predecessor and left for the CFL to be an Offensive Coordinator, Greg Knox took over and maintained a solid level of success but we all know how that ended so it was back to the drawing board. In a move that could usher in another era of excellence in The Hammer, Coach P was brought back and early returns are excellent as they won the last Yates Cup of the decade and put on a reasonable showing against Calgary in their bowl game. With the stage set for another upward trend with Coach P at the helm, I consider the Marauders a major threat to hang another banner in the coming years.

    Blue-Blood Programs End Long Vanier Draughts

    -Remember those new-look UBC Thunderbirds? Other than a nice stint under Hec Creighton winner Billy Green the Birds had long been a CW doormat, first under the thumb of Saskatchewan and then Calgary, but everything changed when the great Blake Nill took his act to the left coast to revive the program. When he brought in Michael O'Connor we knew he still had his recruiting chops but when he went into PEPS and blasted the R&O (albeit in an exhibition game) the rest of the country perked up and took notice. All Nill would do that year is lead the Birds back to the Vanier Cup over the Carabins, securing his first title since 2002, at his second school, and the first for UBC since 1997. This put to bed the notion that he could not win the big one post-SMU, as his great Calgary teams just never broke through. While they have experienced a bit of a drop since taking Calgary to last-second losses in 2016 and 2017, nobody can take away that magical 2015 run.

    -Before bringing UBC to the promised land, Nill was Calgary racking up Hardy Cups (6 in a row from 2008 to 2013) but was unable to break through and win the big one. While the Dinos had become a true powerhouse, the lack of a Vanier Cup in their trophy case would always be an asterisk and with the losses mounting the pressure was as well. Wayne Harris would not be one to let the program fall back down, maintaining the standard of excellence on the field and pumping out pro-level talent but having the same trouble winning the big one as his predecessor did. That all changed in 2019, when the perfect storm (same old elite talent, home bowl game, Montreal instead of Laval at PEPS in the Vanier) finally came together and brought the Dinos their first VC since 1995. While it would be hard to get any better at recruiting than they have been, it's always nice to have another tool in the tool belt and I'm sure Coach Harris will use that to bring in the next generation of game changers.

    -In London, Ontario, the most historically decorated program resides (yes I know Laval has more VC's) but the Mustangs had not won a national title since 1994. While Marshall brought them to the top of the OUA heirarchy (5 straight Yates cup appearances, 3 wins from 2007-2011 and another in 2013) in the late 2000s and early 2010s, they had been unable to beat anyone in a bowl game other than AUS teams, and their best result overall was the 2-point loss at PEPS in 2010. The early/mid 2010s were not kind to them due to the rise of Mac, the injuries of Will Finch, a historic collapse in the 2016 Yates Cup, and an increasing feeling that the team had topped out and would not be able to take the next step. The start of a new chapter in the Mustang history can best be traced to the hiring of Steve Snyder, as the talent they had on the team had always been very high but he was able to maximize it. It had been years since Laval had been dominated by anyone, but the 2017 Mustangs did a job on the R&O in the VC that we probably won't see for another decade (it has been a decade since the last, the 2007 Uteck bowl that many contend was a mere figment of our imagination) and the draught was over. While they couldn't win the rematch in Laval's house (as with Mac in 2012, barely anyone ever does) in 2018 and fell short in 2019, this was a Mustangs run on par with the great ones.

    The Arms Race (OUA, Knowledge on Other Conferences is Lacking)

    -While Laval long ago changed the game on how a program can be funded, and Montreal likewise aspired to compete with them (though they can't outspend them) this decade brought a new level of spending at many programs.
    -Both Carleton and Guelph acquired wealthy benefactors, and both teams accordingly took on a level of flash (uniform combinations, training camp trips) that is a big boost in recruiting in the modern age. While it hasn't translated to an elite level of achievement (though Guelph did bring home 1 Yates Cup) it has still changed how teams view what they need to spend to keep up with the Joneses.
    -Queens, Ottawa, Guelph, and Waterloo made major changes to facilities, in some cases renovating and in some cases entirely building new fields/stadiums/equipment rooms/players lounges.
    -9 of 11 OUA head coaches are on the Sunshine List as making $100k+, and 5 of them made $120k+ last year.

    The AUS Issue

    -We are now 12 seasons removed from the last AUS bowl win, and 5 seasons removed from the last time they were competitive (2014 Mac beats Mount A 24-12 and goes on to lose 20-19 to Montreal).
    -The last 3 games especially, decided by scores of 38-0, 64-0, and 81-3, have been indicators that the problem is no closer to getting solved and may even be getting worse.
    -It has been debated at great length on here how best to fix the issue, but until CIS/Usport actually does something about it the problem will persist.

    Overall, as much complaining as we may do about CIS/Usport we are all still fans and it's a good time to reflect on the enjoyment the sport has brought us in the 2010s. Congratulations to every fan whose team won a Vanier, and better luck next decade to everyone who didn't!
    Last edited by Thoughts; 2019-11-29 at 09:30.

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