CFL teams and their NCAA counterparts

The American college football season is right around the corner, and with that I thought it would be fun to find each CFL team’s NCAA counterpart, so here is goes.

Calgary Stampeders as Alabama Crimson Tide

Both teams replenish talent like no other team in their league and a contender year in and year out. Both are fronted by somewhat curmudgeonly leaders in John Hufnagel and Nick Saban, and whether they win the championship or not, they are always the favourites going into the next season. At this point, we might as well just change Calgary to Calabama, they are that similar.

Edmonton Eskimos as LSU Tigers

Both these teams are usually good, but are a notch below their fellow divisional counterparts. LSU is to Alabama as Edmonton is to Calgary. The similarities are there, and if Calgary/Alabama doesn’t win it all, Edmonton/LSU is the next logical pick.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers as Wisconsin Badgers

A pair of midwestern powerhouses that have a history of failing to win championships. The Bombers haven’t won a title since 1990 or a division title since 2011, while Wisconsin hasn’t won a national title since 1942* and last won the Big 10 in 2012. They each had long stretches of futility, but they play in front of some of the most rabid fans in either country.

* Wisconsin were considered the national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation, not the AP. The AP champion that year was Ohio State, who Wisconsin beat that season

B.C. Lions as Oregon Ducks

Both B.C. and Oregon are incredibly entertaining to watch, with explosive offenses and almost always having a dynamic playmaker at the QB position. The problem with both is that they play on the west coast, which can cause some fans, no matter how diehard, to not be able to see them play. But make no mistake, when these two teams are rolling, there are few more exciting on either side of the border.

Saskatchewan Roughriders as Vanderbilt Commodores

Yes, these two teams play in the best division/conference in their respective leagues — Saskatchewan in the West, Vandy in the SEC — but both are historically cannon fodder for the big boys and neither really has much of a chance of winning their division, let alone a championship, anytime soon.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats as Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Two teams with long histories, but very little recent success. Fanbases of both long for the past where their team dominated on a yearly basis and championships were won almost as frequently, but those days are long gone and, frankly, probably never coming back. It has been a long time since either was at the top and it has mostly been disappointment over the last 20-plus years.

Toronto Argonauts as Harvard Crimson

Both are sometimes very good, but does anyone really care? Both are so much more than just football, with Harvard being, well, Harvard, and Toronto being the biggest city in the country with a lot of entertainment and sporting options. Both teams probably deserve to have a much larger platform, but they don’t, and the last time either was relevant on the national stage, colour TVs were in their infancy.

Montreal Alouettes as USC Trojans

The two most dominant teams of the first decade of the 2000s have hit a rough patch recently. The recent downturns can probably be chalked up to losing their most important figure — for the Als, it was Anthony Calvillo; for the Trojans, it was Pete Carroll — but they are starting to turn things around. The Als are legit Grey Cup contenders for the first time in a long time, and USC starts this season as the No. 4 ranked team in the US. Could the glory days be returning?

Ottawa Redblacks as SMU Mustangs

Both were down for a while, SMU was forced to close up shop after receiving the death penalty from the NCAA and Ottawa has seen two teams fold since 1996. They each have long histories in their respective sports that will always make them a point of conversation, but those histories belong to almost completely different teams (or two completely different teams in Ottawa’s case).

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
Josh Smith

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About Josh Smith (398 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

24 Comments on CFL teams and their NCAA counterparts

  1. Would be cool to see a piece on which schools produce the most players overall….maybe by team as well over a 3-4 year period to ensure there is enough data to see trend…if any?

  2. Josh i didn’t see your column after the ticats loss to the redblacks have you given up too!

  3. BlueFan33 // August 23, 2017 at 12:30 pm //

    Als are Legit Grey Cup Contenders? Really???

    • theonlydispassionateriderfan // August 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm //

      I laughed at that too.

      • IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm //

        At this point playoff is a good possibility. In fact first place is a possibility. Once in playoff anything can happen

      • Chopper11 // August 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm //

        Als beat Calgary…so maybe they are Grey Cup Contenders. They are in second in the east right now.

  4. The interesting part of the Ottawa/SMU comparison (which I never really thought of before) is that while Forrest Gregg played a big part in restoring SMU, his part of the attempt to keep the Renegades afloat was largely a failure (perhaps because of health issues only revealed later).

    Still an administrative connection beyond just the historical aspect.

  5. Toronto may be like the Northwestern Wildcats, midwestern and big league, but underestimated.

  6. Paul Garner // August 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm //

    Great story and a fun read that will surely bring alternative thoughts. Great job

  7. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 23, 2017 at 1:09 pm //

    Calamba..I like it,,,but still prefer New England North

  8. wer io jvev // August 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm //

    Notre Dame? No way. Hamilton Ti-Cats as the Fresno State Bulldogs. Both has lost their last 13 of 14 games and are last on offense & defense.

  9. Humber River // August 23, 2017 at 2:06 pm //

    Useless article.

    • No fan of Josh, but I’m not sure what your expectation was. The content was pretty clearly described by the title.

  10. IMAN ICE HORSIE // August 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm //

    Ottawa is more like the Appalachian State Mountaineers. One huge upset is all that gives another wise mediocre program any notoriety.

  11. Don’t get too hard-ass folks, its’ a fun article – and welcomes interesting ideas …. how about writing a NFL team counterpart for each CFL team ?

  12. Rider Fan // August 24, 2017 at 6:24 pm //

    You know as much about football ad i do about rocket science – nothing.

  13. An excellent description of the Stamps. Hufnagel IS the Stamps. He is the smartest man in football, possibly anywhere. He builds a contender every year. There is nothing bad to say about him. But when he eventually retires… well, the other 8 teams might be able to win a few games at McMahon.

  14. Do the Crimson Tide CHOKE too?

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