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Inside the CFL: A big weekend
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - If you wanted to write a script, you couldn't write a better one.
The organizers of the 100th Grey Cup, and the 48th Vanier Cup, which is awarded to the best team in Canadian University football, got what they wanted.
Sunday's Grey Cup game will see the hometown Toronto Argonauts meeting the Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Center.
The chance for a home team to win a Grey Cup doesn't happen all that often. Since 1972, it's only happened four times: last season, BC Lions 34, Winnipeg 23 (at Vancouver); 1994, BC 26, Baltimore 23 (at Vancouver); 1977, Montreal 41, Edmonton 6 (at Montreal); and 1972, Hamilton 13, Saskatchewan 10 (at Hamilton).
Conversely, the home team has lost six times: 2008, Calgary 22, Montreal 14 (at Montreal); 2002, Montreal 25, Edmonton 16 (at Edmonton); 1983, Toronto 18, BC 17 (at Vancouver); 1982, Edmonton 32, Toronto 16 (at Toronto); 1979, Edmonton 17, Montreal 9 (at Montreal); and 1963, Hamilton 21, BC 10 (at Vancouver).
The game, which was a sellout weeks ago, has become the hot ticket in town, and the Grey Cup festival parties, will now take on a whole new life. And downtown bar and restaurant owners will be easily recognizable; they'll have the smiles on their faces.
Meantime, the top two teams in the country, second-ranked Laval (11-1) and No. 1 McMaster (11-0), will square off in the 48th CIS championship Friday night.
A year ago, the Marauders captured the first national title in program history with a thrilling, 41-38 overtime win against Laval at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.
After last week's Mitchell Bowl win - a 45-6 shellacking of the University of Calgary - McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek talked about one thing: the legacy his team will leave.
"Regardless of the fact that this is the last game that this group gets to compete together, and we're going to miss each other tremendously, unfortunately, the last game is the one you're going to remember the most," he told Inside the CFL at the Marauders' first practice Tuesday in Toronto. "As close-knit a group that this is, we want to make sure this last game goes the way we want it to go."
The seventh-year head coach, who has a career record (season and playoffs) of 51-19 (.729), said last year's win, in front a big crowd at BC Place Stadium, was invaluable for his program.
"Just to know what this week is going to be like, with all the distractions, and how hard it is to get settled on the road, in this huge venue, all those are things that both teams have gone through, so it should not be a disadvantage to either team. The one thing that's unique is the fact that the sea of maroon (McMaster's main color) will be with us this time, not across the country, and it's been real fun getting through this ride with the 13th man on board."
The Marauders had three home playoff games to get to the Vanier, and in each game, the sellout crowd at Ron Joyce Stadium made life miserable for the opposition.
While Ptazsek is pleased this essentially will be another home game for his team, he says Laval will give his team all it can handle.
"Top to bottom, they're the most complete roster," he said. "Their bottom 12 players are as good as their top 12 players. You'll see that on special teams; they don't have any weaknesses."
Laval head coach Glen Constantin, who has a career record (season and playoffs) of 115-24 (.827), including 5-1 in Vanier Cups, says he doesn't want to use the term "revenge" after last year, but his team's focus is apparent.
"It motivated us all through winter drills and summer workouts," Constantin said. "The reality is we can't get too emotionally tied up in the revenge factor. We have to execute and play solid football against an outstanding opponent."
Constantin spoke glowingly about his opponents: "They have great athletes and execute very well. Having a chance to go back-to-back, there's great expectations. Taking the opponents' best shots, week after week, makes them very focused and ready to go."
GREY CUP WEEK HEATS UP
Wednesday, both Grey Cup teams head coaches will meet the media and the teams will practice for the first time at Rogers Center.
Thursday, the Gibson's Finest CFL Player Awards will be announced, in addition to the CIS major awards.
Friday, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon will hold his annual state-of-the-league news conference.
TIGER-CATS ANNOUNCE NEW TEMPORARY HOME
After months of negotiations, denials of negotiations and threats to cancel negotiations, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the University of Guelph signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
After news leaked out on the weekend, the team issued a release, emphasizing the MOA "could see the Tiger-Cats call the University of Guelph's newly renovated Alumni Stadium their home for the 2013 season.
"The Memorandum of Understanding identifies a number of logistical issues that the University and City of Guelph need to resolve prior to a final decision. These discussions will take place over the next few weeks."
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.
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11/21 05:31:02 ET
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