Dinos-mite idea: University of Calgary in talks to play home-and-home series with Mexican university team
CALGARY — The University of Calgary Dinosaurs are mulling over an offer to play a recurring home-and-home series against a Mexican university football team.
The opportunity arose as a trickle-down effect of Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s global outreach initiative, CFL 2.0.
The idea was pitched to Dinos head coach Wayne Harris in mid-May by Eric Fisher, head coach for the Aztecas of the Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Cholula, a city in central Mexico. Fisher was in Calgary at the invitation of Stampeders GM John Hufnagel. They met in Mexico City in January during a player combine jointly organized by the CFL and the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional.
Fisher, an American who has coached the Aztecas to four national titles, spent three days familiarizing himself with the CFL game in Calgary, toured the McMahon Stadium facilities and took time to discuss the international initiative with Harris.
“What we’re talking about is they come down to play us in December and we’d fly up (to Calgary) in August,” said Fisher. “We’d house them and they’d house us. And that way it’s a lot easier budgetarily to spread it out over two years. It seemed like it could fit for both of us. They seemed really interested in it so we’re just going to keep talking.”
U of C spokesperson Ben Matchett said there is “very little detail to this point,” and Harris won’t comment on it until “we are a little further down the road.”
Fisher said the series could start as early as this December at the Aztecas home stadium, nicknamed The House of Pain.
However, it will likely depend on the status of a Canada/Mexico university all-star game being discussed by officials representing U Sports, the CFL, the LFA, and the two university conferences in Mexico.
If that concept receives the necessary approvals, the all-star game could be played in Mexico City in December, then shift to one of the CFL’s two indoor stadiums in 2020 before returning south in 2021.
If that’s the case, Fisher envisions starting the home-and-home series against the Dinos in 2020.
However it plays out, he is excited about showcasing Mexican university talent to the CFL on a continuing basis.
“I think it gives everybody in the CFL an opportunity to see our players compete against college players they know and are scouting, so they get a much better idea of what the Mexican player can do.”
He said they would likely play three-down, 12-man football in Canada and NCAA rules in Mexico. And there would be more to each visit than just the game itself.
“We talked about trying to do some kind of cultural exchange. Maybe coming up for three days, and we’d see Banff. We’d take them to the ruins and give them a cultural experience so they’re not just playing football.
“I think it would be great to start a rivalry and do that every year. For competition it’s fantastic, and then you throw the cultural component in there, I think it would be a really cool opportunity for both the Canadians and the Mexicans.”
QB MITCHELL NO FAN OF DIVISIONS
Bo Levi Mitchell would like somebody to explain why the Canadian Football League insists on separating nine teams into two divisions.
“I don’t understand it. Maybe when there’s 10 teams, it will make more sense,” said the Calgary Stampeders’ starting quarterback, looking ahead to the likely addition of an expansion franchise in Halifax.
“Having to move Winnipeg a couple years ago over to the west and them becoming a stronger team, all that tells me is the more you’re playing better competition, the better you are. So I think if you don’t have divisions, then it’s the top teams that are going to the playoffs as it should be and it becomes a lot more fun.
“Divisions make sense when there are 32 teams. That makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t make sense when there are only nine.”
He didn’t need to be reminded that the Stamps lost Grey Cup games to the 8-9-1 Ottawa Redblacks in 2016, and the 9-9 Toronto Argonauts in 2017. The Stamps were 15-2-1 in 2016 and 13-4-1 in 2017.
“It’s not that they can’t get it done. Anybody can be beat,” said Mitchell.
“But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many fans who would say they don’t want to see some of the best teams playing (in the playoffs) or me and (Mike) Reilly playing against each other in the Grey Cup the last couple years.
“That’s not being taken advantage of. Let the best teams play each other. If you want to be in the playoffs, go win.”
CFL LANDS MEXICAN TV DEAL
The Canadian Football League’s global vision will be seen on TV screens in Mexico.
The league on Tuesday announced a broadcast agreement with MVS Comunicaciones, a media conglomerate founded in 1989 and based in Mexico City. MVS will show a CFL game of the week this season, starting with Saturday’s Grey Cup rematch that has the Ottawa Redblacks in Calgary to face the defending champion Stampeders.
The deal calls for 21 games to be shown on MVStv this year.
“This is another important step forward in our plan to expand the CFL’s international footprint while celebrating and growing the game of gridiron football around the world,” said commissioner Randy Ambrosie, who has convinced league governors to support his global initiative, dubbed CFL 2.0.
“We’re thrilled that CFL rosters feature more than two dozen players this year from countries outside Canada and the U.S., including 18 from Mexico, as we partner with the Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional in Mexico and gridiron football federations across Europe. We’ve seen large numbers of Mexican fans engaging with our online content and we’re confident this positive trend will continue with this landmark agreement with MVS.”