Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Moe Khan: Grey Cup and Vanier Cup closing thoughts

Welcome to my first “Musings and Observations.”  In this week’s column, I recap my time at the Grey and Vanier Cups.

Southern Ontario Interest?
At the commissioner’s annual media session, Mark Cohon addressed the league’s interest to increase fan following for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts.

By doing so, Cohon announced a million-dollar investment to help jumpstart the promotion awareness campaign within the ever-growing population of southern Ontario.

Given that the city of Toronto is hosting the 100th edition of the Grey Cup, the league is hoping to reap the rewards of this being the most successful event.

However, to the confusion of many esteemed reporters on hand for the press conference, they were curious to know how Mr. Cohon would go about helping the game in this area of the country.

This hub generates good television ratings, so what else needs to be done? Cohon, with great confidence and not going into too many details, mentioned that they have hired a marketing group who the league will collaborate with to increase the game’s popularity.

Clearly the pressure is on the Toronto organizing committee to make this Grey Cup a huge success. The league has already started to sell tickets for next year’s game. But really, what I would like to inquire is how many of those sales are from the 416/905/647 area code than the rest of Canada?

The CFL and city of Toronto have 12 months to pull off what is being billed as the Grey Cup no will ever forget. I sure hope no one in Toronto forgets the date of this event.

Vanier Cup Final the Greatest Game
I think it's time for the CFL and CIS to come to a permanent agreement to have the Vanier Cup in the same city and weekend as the Grey Cup.

On Friday night, those who were in attendance, listened on radio, or watched the game on television, were treated to a gem of a game.

Everyone in the country knows about the Laval Rouge Et Or and their dominance they have waved in the last 12 years. But what no one knew was the determination, confidence and underdog mentality that quarterback Kyle Quinlan and his McMaster Marauders brought to the field.

Not once did they back down from the Rouge Et Or. Even when they jumped out to a 23-0 halftime lead and then were down 24-23 late in the third quarter. Quinlan was able to march down the football field many times and respond back.

This game had everything you would only be able to script in a Hollywood movie, from an interception returned for a touchdown, to laterals in overtime, and finally a game winning field goal by Tyler Crapigna.

These two teams should take a bow for their performances. They displayed why this is a good brand of football being played in the University ranks. It is time for the two entities (CFL, CIS) to get together and hammer out a deal to make this a part of Canada’s week long football festival.

Milanovich to the Argonauts
On Saturday, word started to spread like wildfire amongst the media members at B.C. Place that the Argonauts were on the verge of hiring Alouettes assistant coach and offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich to join their staff.

Now, the catch was it couldn’t be a lateral move because Milanovich has one year left on his contract in the very same position with the Alouettes. In talking to one person close to the team, he was being interviewed for the head coaching position, not the aforementioned same position.

As confusion progressed throughout the afternoon into the evening, it was becoming more comedic that the Argonauts could potentially fumble for the second time in as many years in trying to hire the Alouettes assistant.

Finally, after the Grey Cup, all matters came to rest, when TSN’s Dave Naylor tweeted that the deal was all but done. That Milanovich would become the head man, and Barker “relegated” to general manger duties.
Now, can he (Milanovich) be able to turnaround the sinking ship and get this team to be respectable in time to host the Grey Cup? There is a lot of work ahead, but the Argonauts might have found their man to steer the ship.

Grey Cup Recap
To be honest, this wasn’t the best played final. The game lacked execution on offense, and even at times my interest waned due to the ineptitudes from both teams.

The most excitement brought to the 99th edition of the cup was the amount of distaste from the fans for rock band Nickelback who performed at halftime.

Finally, the immortal Gene Simmons of Kiss was about 25-yards away from me in his suite with his family. Fans below Simmons were taking numerous pictures of the fable star that has become somewhat of a regular at B.C. Lions games, as he attended a game at the old Empire Field.

As for the final, the Lions were far too much for their opponent in all three phases of the football game. The Blue Bombers were exposed on offence. Being down by a big deficit on the road, simply put, they’re not built to play from behind. Moreover, it showed how valuable their defence was throughout the season masking the deficiencies of the offence.

Furthermore, the home crowd made life difficult for the visiting team. As a result, they were not able to match the output set forth by their counterparts when they jumped out to an early lead, and never looked back.

The questions that remain: can the Lions repeat and will Wally Buono be back? They will be answered in the next 12 months. But without a doubt the newly minted champions will be one of the favourites to win it again next year.

Moe Khan is the host of TSN 990's Midnight Snack, late night Thursdays in Montreal. You can reach him at or on Twitter @moekhan19.

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