U Sports football

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U Sports football
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2017 U Sports football season
Formerly CIAU football, CIS football
Sport Canadian football
Founded 1961
No. of teams 27, in four conferences
Country Canada
Most recent
Western Mustangs
Most titles Laval Rouge et Or (9)
TV partner(s) Sportsnet/CHCH TV(in English)
TVA Sports(in French)
Vanier Cup
Official website en.usports.ca/sports/fball/index

U Sports football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under the auspices of U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Twenty-seven teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, drawing from the four regional associations of U Sports: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, and Atlantic University Sport. At the end of every season, the champions of each conference advance to semifinal bowl games; the winners of these meet in the Vanier Cup national championship.

The origins of North American football can be traced here, where the first documented game was played at University College at the University of Toronto in 1861. A number of U Sports programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game now known as Canadian football began. In 1874, McGill University (Montreal) challenged Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) to a series of games.

The Grey Cup, the championship trophy of the professional Canadian Football League (CFL) since its founding in the 1950s, was originally contested by teams from the University of Toronto and Queen's University and other amateur teams since 1909. Many U Sports players have gone on to professional careers in the CFL and elsewhere; a number are drafted annually in the Canadian College Draft. In 2015, there were a record 199 CIS alumni on CFL rosters, including 136 on active rosters, 41 on injured lists, 20 on practice rosters, one on suspended lists and one on disabled lists.[1]

Season structure

Regular season

The Calgary Dinos playing against the Alberta Golden Bears in 2006.

The regular season is eight to ten weeks long, depending on the conference, and, as of 2017, opens on the last Friday of August. Teams play eight regular season games and regular season games are in-conference with exhibition (pre-season) games being played between conferences. Throughout the season, there are featured homecoming and rivalry games in most regions. Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Hec Crighton Trophy is awarded annually to the Most Valuable Player of U Sports football.


After the regular season, single elimination playoff games are held between the top teams in each conference to determine conference champions. In the Canada West and Quebec conferences, the top four teams qualify for the playoffs, while in the Atlantic conference the top three teams qualify. In Ontario, the top six teams qualify with the top two teams receiving playoff byes to the next round. Because the OUA teams have conference playoffs that last three weeks instead of two, the first round of the post-season in the OUA occurs during the same week that each of the other three conferences are playing their last regular season games. Each conference has its own championship trophy; the Hardy Trophy in the West, the Yates Cup in Ontario, the Dunsmore Cup in Quebec and the Jewett Trophy in the Atlantic conference. The conference champions proceed to national semifinal bowl games: the Mitchell Bowl and the Uteck Bowl. The participant conferences of each bowl are determined several years in advance on a rotating basis.

The Laval Rouge et Or on offence against the McMaster Marauders in the second quarter of the 47th Vanier Cup.

Vanier Cup

The winners of each bowl game meet in the Vanier Cup national championship, first established in 1965 and named in honour of Governor General Georges Vanier. The game was held in Toronto every year through 2003 when host conference bids were first accepted, yielding a move to Hamilton for 2004 and 2005, followed by Saskatoon in 2006. In 2007, the game returned to Toronto, along with the Grey Cup, which was hosted there for the first time since 1992. The Vanier Cup game moved back to Hamilton in 2008 before heading to Quebec City for the 2009 and 2010 games. The 2011 Vanier Cup was played in the newly renovated BC Place in Vancouver. Quebec City again hosted the game in 2012 and 2013 before Montreal hosted the 50th Vanier Cup in 2014. Quebec City hosted the game again in 2015. The Vanier cup games will be played in Hamilton in 2016 and 2017.


There have recently been efforts at establishing new varsity football programs at institutions that currently do not have teams. A group of alumni from Carleton University in Ottawa have successfully revived that school's program which returned in 2013. The team is a member of the Ontario University Athletics conference of U Sports, returning football to Carleton University after a 15-year absence.[2]

Because the AUS is the smallest conference in U Sports, there has been talk of adding more teams there, as well. There has been interest expressed in starting a team at the Université de Moncton, due to the recent construction of Moncton Stadium.[3] As of May 2011, the athletics department has submitted a feasibility report to the school's president and are going to base a large part of their decision upon how the Uteck Bowl in 2011 is received by the fans in Moncton.[4] Additionally, a club team league, the Atlantic Football League, features four universities in what some hope will lead to varsity teams featured at some of these schools.[5][6]

Following their successful application to become full-members of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association, the UBC Okanagan Heat are investigating the feasibility of starting their own football program, likely to be partnered with the existing CJFL's Okanagan Sun.[7] UBCO would host the Sun in much the same way that the University of Regina was paired with the Prairie Football Conference's Regina Rams.

The University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières were also exploring the possibility of adding a football program with the launch planned for the 2017 season.[8] The program would be similar to Carleton University's in that there would be private funding from football alumni, but operated by shareholders.[9] As of April 2015, $800,000 of the required $3 million had been raised in support of the varsity sport at UQTR.[10] The capacity of the football stadium would be increased from 2000 to 6270 seats.[9] The UQTR Patriotes previously fielded a senior varsity team from 1971 to 1973 and 1977 to 1979.[11][12]

Proposed interconference consortium

In February 2015, businessman David Dube (an alumnus and supporter of the Saskatchewan Huskies) and Jim Mullin announced a proposal for a consortium known as the "Northern 8", which would organize interconference games between its member schools. Dube felt that this plan could help improve the prominence of CIS football on a national basis outside of the post-season (which, as of the 2014 season, was the only period of the season that featured nationally televised CIS games), as it would allow a nationally televised package of regular season games to be sold to a major broadcaster. The Northern 8 would be structured as a non-profit corporation, and would subsidize production costs for its telecasts: profits would be distributed to non-member schools. It would start with 8 teams, but could expand to 10 in the future. The Canada West conference has backed the proposal, although it must also be discussed with U Sports representatives: the OUA showed concerns for the plan due to travel costs and its effects on standings.[13][14]


Canada West Football Conference
Hardy Trophy
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Hardy Trophies Vanier Cups
University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Vancouver BC 1923 Blake Nill 49,166 $1.3B Thunderbird Stadium 3,500 16 4
University of Calgary Dinos Calgary AB 1964 Wayne Harris, Jr. 30,900 $790.6M McMahon Stadium 35,650 15 4
University of Alberta Golden Bears Edmonton AB 1910 Chris Morris 39,312 $1.0B Foote Field 3,500 18 3
University of Saskatchewan Huskies Saskatoon SK 1912 Scott Flory 21,168 $214M Griffiths Stadium 6,171 20 3
University of Regina Rams Regina SK 1999 Stephen Bryce 12,270 $25.9M Mosaic Stadium 33,000 1 0
University of Manitoba Bisons Winnipeg MB 1920 Brian Dobie 28,335 $424M Investors Group Field 33,422 11 3
Ontario University Athletics
Yates Cup
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Yates Cups Vanier Cups
University of Windsor Lancers Windsor ON 1968 Joe D'Amore 13,610 $110.8M South Campus Stadium 2,000 1 0
University of Western Ontario Mustangs London ON 1929 Greg Marshall 35,952 $685M TD Waterhouse Stadium 10,000 31 7
University of Waterloo Warriors Waterloo ON 1957 Chris Bertoia 31,362 $311.2M Warrior Field 5,200 2 0
Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks Waterloo ON 1961 Michael Faulds 20,151 $71.6M University Stadium 6,000 7 2
University of Guelph Gryphons Guelph ON 1950 Kevin MacNeill 27,048 $308.9M Alumni Stadium 4,100 4 1
McMaster University Marauders Hamilton ON 1901 Greg Knox 29,411 $609M Ron Joyce Stadium 6,000 7 1
University of Toronto Varsity Blues Toronto ON 1877 Greg Marshall 73,185 $1.88B Varsity Stadium 5,000 25 2
York University Lions Toronto ON 1969 Warren Craney 55,000 $439M York Stadium 2,500 0 0
Queen's University Golden Gaels Kingston ON 1882 Pat Sheahan 24,582 $1.04B Richardson Stadium 8,000 23 4
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees Ottawa ON 1881 Jamie Barresi 42,587 $233.9M Gee-Gees Field 4,152 4 2
Carleton University Ravens Ottawa ON 1945 Steve Sumarah 25,890 $230M Keith Harris Stadium 3,000 0 0
Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec
Dunsmore Cup
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Dunsmore Cups Vanier Cups
Concordia University Stingers Montreal QC 1974 Patrick Donovan 38,809 $136.7M Concordia Stadium 4,000 3 0
Université de Montréal Carabins Montreal QC 2002 Danny Maciocia 55,540 $276.5M CEPSUM Stadium 5,100 2 1
McGill University Redmen Montreal QC 1898 Ronald Hilaire 39,497 $1.45B Molson Stadium 25,012 3 1
Université Laval Rouge et Or Quebec City QC 1996 Glen Constantin 37,591 $108.3M PEPS Stadium 12,257 13 9
Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or Sherbrooke QC 1971 Mathieu Lecompte 35,000 --- Université de Sherbrooke Stadium 3,359 0 0
Atlantic University Football Conference
Jewett Trophy
Institution Team City Province First season Head coach Enrollment Endowment Football stadium Capacity Jewett Trophies Vanier Cups
Bishop's University Gaiters Sherbrooke QC 1884 Chérif Nicolas 1,817 $32.5M Coulter Field 2,200 0 0
Mount Allison University Mounties Sackville NB 1955 Vacant 2,694 $110M MacAulay Field 2,500 5 0
Acadia University Axemen Wolfville NS 1957 Jeff Cummins 4,358 $96M Raymond Field 3,000 12 2
Saint Mary's University Huskies Halifax NS 1956 James Colzie III 7,586 $52.9M Huskies Stadium 4,000 24 3
Saint Francis Xavier University X-Men Antigonish NS 1954 Gary Waterman 5,158 $100M Oland Stadium 4,000 11 1

Awards and the annual All-Canadian Team

There are post-season awards for on-the-field excellence. The players deemed to be the best at each position are named to the annual All-Canadian Football Team as first or second team players.

Additionally there are a number of individual awards for categories like "best defensive player".

U Sports football players in the professional leagues

Opening Day of the 2015 CFL season saw a record 199 U Sports football players on rosters around the League.[15]

As of 2017, U Sports had produced 35 players who have earned a spot on an NFL roster (including three who did not play a regular season game; players listed in chronological order by entry year in NFL):

1945 Joe Krol, Western Ontario, K/RB.
1947 Les Lear, Manitoba, OG/OT.
1960 Bill Crawford, UBC, OG.
1965 Jim Young, Queen's, RB/R.
1976 Brian Fryer, Alberta, R.
1979 Ken Clark, Saint Mary's, P.
1986 Mike Schad, Queen's, OG.
1987 Brian Belway, Calgary, DE.
1987 Dave Sparenberg, Western Ontario, OG.
1987 Brant Bengen, UBC and Idaho, WR.
1988 Dean Dorsey, Toronto, K.
1992 Tyrone Williams, Western Ontario, WR.
1995 Tim Tindale, Western Ontario, RB.
1995 Mark Montreuil, Concordia, CB.
1995 Mark Hatfield, Bishop's, OL.
1996 Grayson Shillingford, UBC, SB.
1998 Jerome Pathon, Acadia & U. of Washington, R.
2000 J. P. Darche, McGill, LS/LB.

2001 Randy Chevrier, McGill, LS/DE.
2003 Israel Idonije, Manitoba, DL.
2004 Steve Morley, Saint Mary's, OG/OT.
2006 Daniel Federkeil, Calgary, DE.
2006 Jon Ryan, Regina, K.
2008 Samuel Giguère, Sherbrooke, WR
2009 Vaughn Martin, Western Ontario, DL.
2010 Cory Greenwood, Concordia, LB
2010 Joel Reinders, Waterloo, OT
2011 Matt O'Donnell, Queen's OT
2012 Akiem Hicks, Regina, DT
2013 Stefan Charles, Regina, DT
2014 Henoc Muamba, St.FX, LB
2014 David Foucault, Montreal, OL
2014 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, McGill, OL
2016 David Onyemata, Manitoba, DL
2017 Antony Auclair, Laval, TE[16]

NFL Draft

In the 2009 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers selected defensive lineman Vaughn Martin from Western Ontario in the fourth round. Martin became the first CIS underclassman to be selected in the NFL draft.

In the 2012 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected defensive lineman Akiem Hicks from Regina in the third round, 89th overall.

In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from McGill in the sixth round, 200th overall.

In the 2016 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints selected defensive lineman David Onyemata from Manitoba in the fourth round, 120th overall.

CFL Draft

The following is a list of recent numbers from the CFL Draft, which is an annual eight-round event with a current maximum of 63 players drafted. The high-water mark of 59 players from the CIS drafted was recorded in the 2014 CFL Draft, which was the most since 1978.

56 CIS players drafted in the 2017 draft
53 CIS players drafted in the 2016 draft
44 CIS players drafted in the 2015 draft
59 CIS players drafted in the 2014 draft
44 CIS players drafted in the 2013 draft
24 CIS players drafted in the 2012 draft
34 CIS players drafted in the 2011 draft
36 CIS players drafted in the 2010 draft
38 CIS players drafted in the 2009 draft
33 CIS players drafted in the 2008 draft
31 CIS players drafted in the 2007 draft
26 CIS players drafted in the 2006 draft

See also


  1. ^ 199 CIS grads on CFL opening-day rosters
  2. ^ http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Carleton+football+veteran+celebrates+team+revival/5060825/story.html Carleton football veteran celebrates team’s revival
  3. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/07/26/nb-iaaf-games-moncton-legacy-610.html University ponders legacy after IAAF games
  4. ^ http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/sports/article/1402895 U de M continues to study viability of university football
  5. ^ http://dalnews.dal.ca/2010/03/22/football.html Pigskin promise
  6. ^ http://redbombers.com/schedule/
  7. ^ UBC Okanagan makes the grade with Canada West
  8. ^ A new university team from 2017
  9. ^ a b Le retour d'une équipe de football universitaire à l'UQTR?
  10. ^ The Quebec University Football League (QUFL) will have soon a seventh team.
  11. ^ A History of Canadian University Football
  12. ^ CIS Helmet History: UQTR Patriotes
  13. ^ "Is CIS football 'super league' in the works?". TSN.ca. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "Dube still chasing national university football series". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "199 CIS grads on CFL opening-day rosters - U Sports - English". en.usports.ca. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
  16. ^ Antony Auclair

External links

  • Official website
  • A History of Canadian University Football
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