Cross-country football on the horizon?

Scott Hastie
January 8, 2015
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

CIS football could be getting a major redesign in the new year.

Saskatoon businessman David Dube and broadcaster Jim Mullin are partnering to pitch the idea of an interlocking conference football schedule to the CIS and its conferences. The idea is that those games would be attractive enough for a TV broadcaster to air.

Dube is willing to pay the television production costs and universities would pick up the tab for travel and accommodations. Dube is the CEO of Concorde Group Corporation, a major development company in Saskatoon.

He is a supporter of the University of Saskatchewan football program, regularly donating cash to the Huskies.

Mullin’s ties to CIS football run deep. A play-by-play broadcaster for 20 years, Mullin also has a weekly CIS football show, Krown Countdown U, which Dube sponsors.

The news about the interlock schedule comes from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, who gave a more detailed report on the proposal on Dec. 26 after Le Journal de Quebec published a story hinting at the possibility of an out-of-conference schedule happening in 2015.

Here is what the interlock group wants, in simple terms: eight teams (four from Ontario, two from the West, two from Quebec) would play two out-of-conference teams each season.

Those games would be put on national television, which is not currently the case for regular season CIS football. The only time that the entire country can catch a game is in late November, during the national semi-finals and the Vanier Cup.

Details are scarce, but the interlock group wants to make this happen by 2015 in order to entice broadcasters. Mullin told the Star-Phoenix that they are targeting Sportsnet, TSN and CBC to pick up the property. Sportsnet owns the Vanier Cup as well as the national semifinal bowl games, but their acquisition of NHL rights ties up a lot of their resources.

TSN has been buying television properties recently, suggesting that they are looking to acquire more products. However, in airing regular season football but not the Vanier, TSN would essentially be marketing for Sportsnet.

CBC’s new strategic plan states that they are looking to promote amateur sport. They could be the best fit for CIS football, especially since costs would be low because Dube would fund the broadcast.

The idea is still in its infancy, so the number of loose ends to tie up should be expected. As CanWest executive director Diane St-Denis said, there are more questions than answers at this point, but in order to have a 2015 season launch, answers need to be coming quickly. Dube and Mullin are supposed to meet with CIS executives later in January.

Interlock would drastically change CIS football as we know it. More information should become available throughout the winter and spring.

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