David Dube, the pigskin patron who's pushing for a national interlocking football schedule in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, has spoken publicly for the first time since indirectly being told 'no' 2 1/2 weeks ago.
Ontario University Athletics essentially closed the door on participating in the proposed Northern 8 — a non-profit corporation that would oversee air travel costs and scheduling for non-conference games between top-ranked teams — by releasing a standard 2015 schedule earlier this month. Canada West was the only conference to give its support to the project.
Dube, a millionaire Saskatoon businessman, is determined to keep the notion alive. In an interview on the KROWN Countdown U program that was posted publicly on Monday, the former University of Saskatchewan Huskies player emphasized that if CIS football is to return to national television, it has to offer compelling matchups on a weekly basis.
Dube's segment begins at 6:10.
"The feedback was very clear that there was interest in it," Dube said. "Because the media landscape has some voids in it, unique ones this year, that just happened to align. We thought the stars were aligning to bring college football in Canada back on television. They [prospective television partners] made it exceptionally clear it had to be the best against the best, which made us very happy because our proposal is exactly that.
"You put your best product forward and expose it to millions of Canadians fans who currently are watching the CFL and don't really know where these Canadian players come from."
It's understandable why the OUA and the Quebec conference did not both jump right in with both feet. Lodging an entire football team for up to two nights, which could potentially happen with a team travelling across three or four provinces, is pricey. That said, what Dube and project partner Jim Mullin, a Vancouver broadcaster, have carefully plotted and pitched to athletic directors doesn't affect the structure of any league's playoffs. The end of the season would still have a must-win finality.
The Krown Countdown U episode also included an explanation of how the Northern 8 would be funded and governed. One of the common concerns raised was the potential damage to smaller football programs, but there's a provision to possibly restribute revenue to those teams.
It's not as if anyone is oblivious about the challenges in university football, specifically with a lack of parity. Dube seems to be trying to suggest instead of fighitng over a small pie, there's a way to bake a bigger pie.
"There's still tremendous potential to grow the game nationally and get it back on television and show people what it's all about," Dube said. "I think the student-athletes deserve that experience. And I would ask those fans, I would say to fans, if you want national television, if you want best versus the best — and student-athletes, if you think you deserve that opportunity — send a letter to your AD (athletic director). Have a conversation.
"This is a community, a football community that has to come together to make this happen," Dube added. "That would be my challenge to our fans. And they're rabid, great fans. We just don't have enough of them. And when we expose the game to more people in this country, I think people will be stunned at how many more fans we gain."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.