The un­de­feated fea­tured to­day at Grif­fiths

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - Saturday, Oct. 7 - By Kevin Mitchell


They’re rank­ings.

Or are they in­for­ma­tive? Or wrong-headed? Or a nice boost to the ego?

Univer­sity of Man­i­toba Bisons head coach Brian Do­bie sees all those ex­tremes from his own coach­ing staff when it comes to the love ’em or hate ’em rank­ings.

“Most of my as­sis­tant coaches, even other coaches on cam­pus, some­times they just don’t be­lieve them,” says Do­bie, whose fourth-ranked Bisons play the sec­ond-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies to­day at 3:30 p.m. at Grif­fiths Sta­dium. “They go ‘Oh, the rank­ings. What­ever.’ Maybe it’s just me, but I dis­agree with that. The rank­ings are very im­por­tant for other rea­sons.”

He says those other rea­sons in­clude pub­lic per­cep­tion of the pro­gram. Do­bie made a re­cruit­ing trip to B.C. last week when the Bisons had a bye. A lot of peo­ple he talked to knew about Man­i­toba’s No. 4 rank­ing and if they didn’t, Do­bie re­minded them.

Fif­teen me­dia mem­bers set the rank­ings in a weekly na­tional poll. Huskies head coach Brian Towriss, whose team is a peren­nial top-10 unit, says he doesn’t give much weight to who’s ranked where.

“Only at the end of the year,” Towriss said. “That’s for me­dia peo­ple. It’s a re­flec­tion of how well you’ve done dur­ing the year, but (where you’re ranked) doesn’t make any dif­fer­ence. It’s not like if you’re ranked sec­ond and you get beat you go to the nextbest bowl game. That’s not the way it works here.”

Do­bie also down­plays the whole No. 2 vs. No. 4 an­gle in the game to­day. He says the most im­por­tant as­pect of the clash is a chance to take the inside track on first place and home-field ad­van­tage in the play­offs. Saskatchewan is 5-0, Man­i­toba 4-0. “There’s been a lot of me­dia hype here (in Win­nipeg),” Do­bie said. “I ad­dressed the play­ers. I said ‘Hype’s great — foot­ball’s ex­cit­ing and you want to be in­volved in this kind of en­vi­ron­ment. You guys earned it. If we were 0-4, there’d be no hype. But that’s not at all what this game’s about.’

“This game is about first place and first place counts for some­thing. It’s not about the rank­ings or na­tional TV. It’s about two teams duk­ing it out for first place, with 60 per cent of the sea­son done and over.”

The Huskies are en­joy­ing a strong surge by first-year quar­ter­back Bret Thompson, who shook off a slow start to record big num­bers the last cou­ple of weeks. Thompson, in his last four quar­ters, has com­pleted 32 of 40 passes for 506 yards, five touch­downs and no in­ter­cep­tions.

“I knew I could play in this league,” said Thompson, a for­mer ju­nior star with the Saskatoon Hill­tops. “It was a mat­ter of time be­fore ev­ery­thing started click­ing. I see the field a hun­dred times bet­ter than I did at the start and I’m mak­ing bet­ter and bet­ter reads. I def­i­nitely feel com­fort­able with the of­fence now.”

Do­bie, mean­while, savours the chance to mea­sure his pro­gram against the Huskies, who played in — and lost — three of the last four na­tional fi­nals.

“The pro­gram I re­spect most in the coun­try is Saskatchewan,” Do­bie said. “How can you not? Heck, you think with the (10 starters) they lost, they’d be given up for dead. But here they are, un­de­feated, ranked sec­ond in the coun­try. It’s amaz­ing and they de­serve it.

“But we’re com­ing there to win. We’re not apol­o­giz­ing for our suc­cesses, ei­ther. I told our guys this is what you build and play for.You play to be the best and you play to play against the best. And that’s who we’re go­ing to play on Satur­day is the best.”






Bisons (4-0) at Huskies (5-0) 3:30 p.m. Grif­fiths Sta­dium, The Score, CK750

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