November 29, 2013

Rouge et Or Tide rolls on

Much like I probably will never understand the system by which Americans choose their presidents, what with primaries and the electoral college and all, I likely will never understand how Americans decide the best college football team.

I have gleaned this much: there is no such thing as an official national college football championship and that something called “selectors” pick the best teams.

If I understand Wikipedia correctly, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide won the “championship” last year, as it did three of the past four years.

From what I read, UA is being dubbed a dynasty, and again this year they are on top with an 11-0 record going into this Thanksgiving weekend.

Up north, we have what might easily be described as a football powerhouse to equal The Tide; in fact you might call it the red and gold tide. This would be the Laval University Rouge et Or team.

On Saturday, Laval captured its eighth Vanier Cup national university football championship. The team did it at home in front of a monster crowd, by Canada college ball standards, of 18,500 tailgate-fueled fans.

The win was the team’s third in four consecutive Cup appearances. The only time it lost a championship game, in 2011, it was in double overtime.

The success of the Rouge et Or football program is the envy of the 27-team Canadian Interuniversity Sports league. Critics, though, say Laval, the oldest school of higher education in Canada, has stacked the deck with an exceptionally well-funded program financed by corporate sponsors.

While the best of facilities, coaches and other support are certainly the infrastructure of a successful sports program, the key to Laval’s winning ways lies in an observation made about 20 years ago by a local physical-education instructor.

Mike Labadie, who teaches at the only English-language pre-university college in Quebec City, populated mostly by French speakers, noted that francophones playing football in Quebec at the high-school level had nowhere to go to advance their game except the English universities in the province or elsewhere in the country.

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