In this episode, Greg sits down with Canadian football historian and scholar, Dr. Frank Cosentino, to talk about his playing career and the CFL as a cultural institution in the 20th Century, especially during the time he played. They also discuss how the CFL dealt with the threat of the WFL in the 1970s, during which John Bassett planned on placing a franchise in Toronto. Lastly, they discuss the American expansion, changing sports landscape and the prospects of a successful CFL/XFL merger, should one ever be pursued again.
Scott was slated to join the conversation; however, just minutes before recording tornado warnings were issued for Birmingham and power went out. We are happy to report that eventually the weather cleared, and power was restored.
Grey Cup champion, Vanier Cup champion, hall of famer, scholar, teacher, and professor emeritus are just a few of the ways one describes the greatest Canadian sports historian who has authored 18 books, and not just only on football. Drafted by the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1960, Dr. Cosentino was in five consecutive Grey Cup games, 1961-65, including the first overtime Grey Cup game in 1961, the “fog bowl” in 1962 and the “wind bowl” of 1965. The team’s two Grey Cup wins were in 1963 and 1965. As a Tiger Cat he also played in the last of the CFL vs NFL exhibition games against the Buffalo Bills, in which Hamilton prevailed and he passed for the team’s final touchdown.
In 1967, Dr. Cosentino was traded to Edmonton in 1967, led the team to a 9-6-1, and was named Edmonton’s nominee for the Best Canadian Schenley Award, after which he was traded to Toronto for the 1969 season. He finished his career after the 1969 season, playing in 141 regular season games and starting in 41, posting 20 wins, 19 losses, and two ties. He completed 482 passes out of 996 attempts for 7,678 passing yards with 53 touchdowns.
While playing in the CFL, Dr. Cosentino continued his education, earning both a master’s and doctor of philosophy degree. After his playing days ended, in 1970, he was named head football coach at the University of Western Ontario and assistant professor. In 1976 he moved to York University where he was professor and chairman of physical education and athletics for a five-year term. As a professor, he taught courses in sport history, and as a coach, won two Vanier Cups at Western in 1971 and 1974. He is a member of Halls of Fame at McMaster, York, Western, and Ontario University Athletics; and in 2018, was named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
Though retired, Dr. Cosentino continues to write and all of his wonderful books, which are required reading for students of Canadian football, are available at his website- www.valleyoldtimers.com.