More on National Interlock


U of S Huskies’ quarterback Drew Burko tries to evade Guelph Gryphon tacklers in Aug 2012 exhibition game Photo: Michelle Berg / Star-Phoenix

U of S Huskies’ quarterback Drew Burko tries to evade Guelph Gryphon tacklers in Aug 2012 exhibition game
Photo: Michelle Berg / Star-Phoenix

More on the proposal for televised, inter-conference games for 2015 from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix:

A Saskatoon businessman and a Vancouver broadcaster are perking up ears across the Canadian university football world.

Saskatoon’s David Dube, who has pumped a portion of his wealth into the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football program, is floating an audacious idea with the backing of broadcaster Jim Mullin. They’re proposing a national interlocking schedule, pitting elite teams from different conferences in head-to-head regular season games with a network television broadcast relaying events to the fans at home.

They want the interlocking schedule in place for the 2015 season and kick-started things last week in Toronto by unrolling the idea to several CIS football coaches.

“We’ve seen the quality of the game marked up sharply over the last decade and a half,” Mullin said this week. “Quite frankly, it’s a game with a national footprint that deserves to have a national broadcaster to cover it on a regular basis.”

Sportsnet dropped weekly university football broadcasts in Ontario prior to this season, citing production costs and low viewership. Mullin says that’s when he and Dube started talking seriously about the possibility of trying to land a national TV deal tied in with an interlocking schedule. Dube would underwrite the venture by covering television production costs. He’d essentially pay for everything except team travel costs and hotel, with those expenses shared equally by teams who would each be expected to find a sponsor to provide assistance.

A non-profit would be set up to manage the initiative.

Dube deferred comment this week while work continues on the project, but Mullin said the key to making it succeed is high-quality games played by the top teams in the country. The meeting with coaches netted three proposals, with anywhere from eight to 12 teams nationwide participating either once or twice a season.

The next steps include trying to sell university administrators on the idea, and enticing a network – whether it be CBC, TSN or Sportsnet – to pick up the package, knowing their production costs are covered by Dube. The timeline, Mullin acknowledges, is short.

“David’s a guy of action. I’ve never met a guy so passionate about CIS football in all my life,” Mullin says of Dube, who sponsors his Krown Countdown U football show while underwriting its costs, as well as serving as the title sponsor of Shaw’s Canada West football broadcasts.

“(We want) a system where the best teams are playing on a national stage for a weekly television game. It’s not creating a tier, or a new conference that sits above the other conferences. This is something that’s clearly aspirational. If you play well enough, you can play up into it and get on TV. That’s what’s driving this thing. We need to have a game of the week, once a week, on national TV. And it’s our feeling that the only way to get this done is to make sure we’re not showing regional games, but we’re showing games that have a national impact.”

Read the rest of story here.

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