Wednesday, October 19, 2005

McGill football cancels remainder of season

My traffic is going through the roof today with people searching for McGill hazing, a story I commented briefly on a few weeks ago.

The university announced late last night that the McGill University Redmen were cancelling the remaining two games on their schedule (Oct. 22 vs. Laval and Oct. 29 vs. Concordia), in effect bowing out due to the results of this past weekend's games. The Globe and Mail had the story in today's paper.

The Redmen were eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend in what was, frankly, an embarassing 27-4 loss to a Bishop's University Gaiters club that hadn't won in its last ten contests. With the loss, McGill falls to a 1-5 record. It's the first time the team has miss the playoffs since 1998.

Canadian Interuniversity Sport released an official statement on the matter today in which they, not surprisingly support the university's move.

In terms of background, McGill University is one of Canada's largest, most prestigious schools, and it also has Canada's most historic football program, one that has been in operation since 1872. The team last won the Vanier Cup in 1987, but has traditionally had one of Quebec's strongest clubs.

It has been very tough few weeks for the school's athletics department, and that likely weighed into their decision. I can't help but wonder, however, if the team's elimination from the postseason was the real reason the decision was made now.

Long-time McGill athletics director Bob Dubeau retired last year after 29 years running the school's athletics programs, leaving a leadership void that has only been filled this year by an interim director. One wonders how things may have been done a little differently had Dubeau still be around to guide the program through this difficult period.

It's also unfortunate for the players from Laval, the top-ranked school in the country, and Concordia, that they don't have a chance to play one of their final games (the CIS regular season is only eight games long). The Laval game was to be televised regionally on RDS, giving the league some much-needed exposure to a wider audience.

This may be something that hangs over the school for years to come.

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