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By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor - Archive - Email
Seizing Momentum
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - The phrase was uttered during the national telecast of the Vanier Cup, the Canadian University Football Championship game, and it will remain a part of McMaster University forever:

"Best ... Game ... Ever."

On Nov. 25, the No. 1-ranked Laval Rouge et Or (11-1) met No. 2 McMaster Marauders (10-1) in the Vanier Cup.

Many observers thought Laval, which was 6-0 in previous national championship games, would steamroll over the Marauders.

Those observers were wrong.

In a game for the ages, the Marauders beat Laval, 41-38, in double overtime, to secure their first Vanier Cup win.

Fourth-year quarterback Kyle Quinlan was named the game's MVP after completing 36-of-55 passes for 482 yards and two touchdowns. The 36 completions tied him for second-best in Vanier Cup history and his 482 passing yards were second best. He also ran the ball 14 times for 106 yards.

McMaster's 41 first downs tied a Vanier Cup record and its 675 offensive yards were second-best in Vanier Cup history.

For McMaster athletic director Jeff Giles, he and his staff are finally catching their breath after what has been a whirlwind.

"I think the first few months after the win, we were all caught up in the excitement, but now we're back into the routine," Giles told Inside the CFL. "But occasionally we'll sit back and get caught in the excitement again."

Like a lot of NCAA schools have found out, while getting to the big game is exciting, it comes at a price.

"Financially it did cost us quite a lot to go to the Vanier Cup, but as I've told a few people, I'd spend that money anytime, any year, if it meant the same results," Giles said. "We will eventually get it back, it's just a matter of timing. The reaction from alumni, corporate sponsors and other supporters has been overwhelming, and not just for football, but for all of our sports. In the short term, it has a financial impact, but in the long term, it'll be a tremendous thing."

Giles went on to say the exposure for the university is an added bonus.

"The average viewership was over 640,000, and it peaked at over a million. Those are pretty incredible numbers for any CIS sporting event," Giles said. "Just as importantly, studies were done on media coverage leading up to and after the game, and it showed almost a million dollars worth of media coverage for McMaster was received as a result of that. To have that profile is something that's very rewarding."

In addition to the win on the field, McMaster recently announced a business victory. It became the first Canadian university to reach an agreement with Nike.

"This is the first what they call a ?team deal' in Canada," Giles explained. "As a team deal, it's primarily for football, basketball, soccer and track. We'll be an exclusive Nike school as far as uniforms and apparel that those teams and our staff will wear. It also means a significant portion of our retail sales will be Nike product. It's very significant that we're the first university to have this type of a deal in Canada. It's an iconic brand, a powerful brand and to be associated with Nike is very special."

Giles must be given credit for brokering the deal.

"The football program was under one brand, the basketball under another and so on," he said. "We spend the last two or three years consolidating, so we could market all of our major sports under one brand. We put together an RFP and we sent it out to all the major sports under one brand. The RFP outlines the major programs that would be included and our commitment as far as what we would purchase as far as uniforms, apparel and retail product. We weren't just looking for a good price as far as apparel and uniforms, we were looking for someone to be our marketing partner, to help us sell our brand to corporate Canada, our fans and our alumni."

Giles points out the Vanier Cup win, the exposure the school received, the new deal with Nike, as well as increased merchandise sales and sponsorship, all help in the recruiting process, the lifeblood of any university sports team.

As the Marauders prepare for spring camp, Giles is turning his attention to a topic that many Hamiltonians are curious about - where the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play.

Their home stadium, Ivor Wynne Stadium, will be torn down at the end of the current season and be completely rebuilt.

Giles said talks between the Tiger-Cats and McMaster are continuing to see if the Tiger-Cats can play some of their home games in 2013 at Ron Joyce Stadium.

While no decision has been reached yet, playing the games at the "Ron" poses some unique challenges.

Temporary stands would be added to the west side of Ron Joyce Stadium, which would boost capacity to over 15,000. However, those stands would take up a lot of sidewalks, roads and parking lots, which are all used by students and staff.

It appears the best solution would be to have the Tiger-Cats play the bulk of their home games at Mac before Labour Day. Then, when the stands come down, and everyone returns to school, the Tabbies could then play their "home" games at other venues, including Western University in London, and Moncton, New Brunswick.

Considering the 2013 Marauders season would start one week earlier if an agreement can be reached, Giles said he'd like to see the opener played at Ron Joyce, before the stands come down, perhaps as part of a Marauders/Tiger-Cats doubleheader.

NOTES

* All eyes will be on the CFL evaluation camp in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday. Kyle Quinlan is one of the quarterbacks invited to the camp, and many are curious to see if a team will take a chance on drafting the 6-foot-3, 215- pounder. If Quinlan is drafted and released by a CFL team after training camp, he has one year of eligibility left, which means the Marauders' high-octane offense should pick up where it left off.

* There may be a Vanier-McMaster rematch on the horizon. Negotiations are continuing to have Mac visit Laval in a pre-season game in August. Laval would pay all of Mac's travel, accommodation and food expenses.

The same two teams met in a monsoon last August. Mac led 10-5 at halftime before head coach Stefan Ptaszek pulled his starters. Laval went on to win, 24-10.

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