Kevin Jesus is a producer of the Global Edmonton News Hour and provides colour commentary for the University of Alberta Golden Bears Football team.
EDMONTON — David Dube has teamed up with long-time CIS Football broadcaster Jim Mullin to propose a Northern 8 Series. The virtual conference would pit the best teams in Canada against each other in regular season play, to be broadcast nationally.
It would mean a slight change in conference scheduling but would not affect the current playoff structure.
There would be representation from all conferences (Canada West, OUA, RSEQ, AUS) and teams would be selected using a formula based on standings and number of graduating players.
Dube insists Northern 8 would also benefit teams struggling from a competitive standpoint.
In addition to playing more games against teams of a similar level, there would also be a profit-sharing plan in place if/when Northern 8 breaks even.
Under the proposal, the Alberta Golden Bears would not be a part of the Northern 8 for the 2015 season.
Head Coach Chris Morris supports the plan as it would breed parity which would breed great competition, great games, and fans. He stresses, however, the need for the proposal to focus on education.
“School is of utmost importance here for these kids.”
“It’s important to have school administrative councils involved in every step of this process because there’s certain things that may not be feasible from an academic standpoint,” Morris added.
He also believes some teams may be concerned that those in the Northern 8 would have an advantage when it comes to recruiting.
The Canada West is the only conference to have supported the proposal. The OUA has, for the time being, elected to not support the proposal.
OUA CEO Gord Grace says his conference is always open to new ideas and concepts but they need to be taken to the CIS Task Force for evaluation.
“I just don’t see how our membership, as a whole, would support the current concept without modifications.”
Grace has concerns about the proposal and points to the financial implications it would have on teams involved with it.
“There’s a reason why there’s leagues based on geography.
“You just have to look at the CHL and you realize the Kitchener Rangers don’t go and play the Calgary Hitmen in the regular season,” he added.
For perspective, in 2012, the Saskatchewan Huskies offered $50,000 to help offset travel costs for the Guelph Gryphons to come to Saskatoon for a non-conference game.
Northern 8 would be responsible for air travel costs only – the rest would be up to each respective University.
With the OUA opting out and schedules due to be released, it’s unlikely the series will move forward for 2015.