Return to Year Index
The winds of change were blowing in the West as Saskatchewan, the 2009 and 2010 Grey Cup finalists, dropped to last place with a 5-13 record. It was hard to pinpoint a single cause for the drastic fall. Andy Fantuz, who was the league's top receiver and Canadian in 2010missed the first half of the season trying out in the NFL, and then got injured when he returned. Another member of the Canadian Air Force of 2010, receiver Rob Bagg missed the whole season with an injury as did kicker Luca Congi and defensive end Brent Hawkins Long time center Jeremy O'Day retired, and Tad Kornegay was dumped to BC during the short Marshall reign. Put together with apparent player unhappiness with Marshall among the players spelled the doom of the Green and White which even the return of Ken Miller could not fix.
Change was happening elsewhere in the West. BC had just barely made the playoffs in 2010 and Edmonton missed the playoffs. When the dust cleared, BC finished first and Edmonton finished second. Besides change, the other themes in the league were parity and unpredictability. Three teams, BC, dmonton and Calgary actually finished with identical 11-7 records and seemingly sure wins turned into upsets week after week. The BC Lions, got off to a horrible 0-5 start and were battling the Riders for last place in the West before catching fire in a major way. BC was led by the emergance of young quarterback Travis Lulay who was named a CFL All-Star and the Outstanding Player in the CFL for 2011. The addition of wide receiver Arland Bruce to pair with Geroy Simon at receiver also provided a boost and the Lions were very strong on both sides of the line. You also can't ignore the spectactualr season of kicker Paul McCallum who set records for consecutive successful fieldgoals and fieldgoal percentage for a season. Edmonton got off to a hot start, and faded a bit as the year went on, partly due to injuries, but they still claimed second. Edmonton had a lot of new young players, including Jerome Messam who came over from BC after discipline problems and ran for over a 1000 yards and was named the top Canadian in the league. Change was also happening in Calgary where the Stampeder offence struggled under Henry Burris and he was replaced as the starting quarterback by Drew Tate. Another Canadian running back, Jon Cornish took over from Joffrey Reynolds as the #1 rusher and named a West All-Star.
In the East in recent times, you could just pencil in Montreal for first place and a bye into the East final, but the Alouettes also slipped in 2011. It was only to second place, but they then lost in the East semi-final. Calvillo had a great year offensively, setting CFL career records for most passing yards and touchdown passes. The Als lost Avon Cobourne to Hamilton, but Brandon Whitaker stepped in and didn't miss a beat. It seemed to be injuries to the defensive backfield that mainly hurt the Alouettes. The Bombers moved up from last to first, largely on the strength of a very good defence led by the Outstandng Defensive Player of the year in cornerback Jovon Johnson. Buck Pearce stayed unhurt, or at least well enough to play, for most of the year and gave Winnpeg a decent offence. Hamilton tried a dual QB system with Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter, but neither excelled and Hamilton was again a medicore team a 8-10 in third. The emergance of rookie receiver Chris Williams was probably their highlight. In Toronto, the Argonauts went backwards under quarterback Cleo Lemon and they dumped him halfway through the season. Their second half wasn't much better and the Argonauts finished last.
In the playoffs, the experience of Ricky Ray prevailed over the youth of Drew Tate as Edmonton won the West semi-final. The Esks star running back Jerome Messum was limping and would miss the West Final against BC. Maybe it wouldn't have been enough even with Messum, but BC had little problems with the Esks in the West final. In the East, Monreal had a wild high-scoring overtime semi-final that went to the Tiger-Cats. Winnpeg's defence was just too much for the Tiger-Cats in the East final, setting up a BC - Winnipeg Grey Cup. The Bombers have the longest streak without a Grey Cup, and it got longer as Lulay and the Lions offence beat up on the Bombers' defence to give Wally Buono a record tying Grey Cup victory.