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 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.