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Volume 91, Issue 27
Thursday, October 16, 1997
Bored of Governors
The edge: Rank this
This weekend's football game between Western and Guelph, the two top-ranked teams in the nation, has been dubbed the battle for number one. Who cares?
While it is true it will be a powerful match-up of two strong and experienced football teams, the concept of where the teams are ranked doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Who can honestly say they are the two best teams in the country if they have not played anyone from the other three divisions? The rankings are just a guessing game, but the media has made them out to be this weekend's tilt into the game of the year.
Every Monday afternoon from September to November, fans, players and coaches await the announcement which Western coach Larry Haylor says is made by "several reasonably astute and knowledgeable people who discuss the games from the weekend." These individuals try to develop a list of the top 10 teams in Canada, but unintentionally relay an inaccurate and inconsistent picture of football at the Canadian varsity level.
Over the course of this season the rankings are released by the CIAU head office to schools and the media into the hands of critics who constantly question the often suspect list.
The most outlandish choice this season was the University of Toronto moving into the top-10 after defeating Waterloo, which brought the Blues' record to a stunning 1-3. Yes, previously high-ranked Waterloo is a strong, experienced team and being upset by the Blues was an amazing feat, but can one surprising weekend determine whether a team is one of the best in the country? Especially after they wallowed in the basement for the previous three weeks. Is it therefore the team's potential which determines where they will sit on the elite varsity list? This seems to be the only logical answer to why Toronto would have arrived on the CIAU news release.
This theory, however, is destroyed when you consider the situation with Bishop's University. Sitting at 3-2 and ranked by the gridiron gurus, the team was forced to forfeit all three victories due to an ineligibility violation and fall to 0-5. No potential was lost from the team except for the violating player the team was just forced to start over in the standings. Should the team need to start over considering they are the same team that already celebrated three victories? The next week Bishop's went out and once again defeated their opponent with the same skill as the weekend before yet they dropped from the almighty rating system. Apparently, the potential of a team does not dictate where they will sit on this elite ladder.
Many questions are still left unanswered as to how these CIAU-certified armchair quarterbacks make their picks. Even with all the controversy over the choices the league continues to support and use them as a promotional tool to spotlight big games, such as this weekend's tilt in Guelph.
What purpose does this system of rating have anyway? In Canadian varsity football there is no determination who the national champion will be or who will make the playoffs through rankings.
At the collegiate level in the United States, a collection of coaches and media polls are compiled all season by a long-established system. When bowl time nears, these polls help determine who will play in which bowl game and eventually who will become the national champion.
This leaves the Canadian version as only a simple promotional tool and nothing else. If the Mustangs win this weekend they will not be the best no matter what the rankings say. They will only be the true number one when they walk away with the Vanier Cup in November.
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