Three years and 23 games--a long time to go without a win. But that's what the Simon Fraser University Clan football program has been through since the end of the 2004 season.
"We've been eating humble pie around here for so long, we forget what victory tastes like," said first-year Clan head coach David Johnson.
Since finishing 3-5 in the 2004 season, the Clan have gone two full seasons and all of this season without a victory and have been outscored 949-327 during that span. Last season the team finished last in points scored and points allowed, scoring only 100 points and giving up 431, nearly 200 more than the second-worst defensive team. The Clan also had five games where they scored less than nine points and gave up 39 or more, including such lopsided demolitions as 77-7 and 63-8 losses to the University of Manitoba Bisons.
The 2006 season was the first year for the Clan under head coach Frank Boehres, who was hired in Apr.2006. Boehres resigned after the 0-8 season Dec. 8, 2006.
Despite this bad run, Johnson said it hasn't affected the school's recruitment.
"Recruiting has been spectacular," said Johnson. "There's a ton of opportunity up here for guys, much like there was at University of Calgary this time last year. Guys can come in and the lines are short. Good players get a chance to play very quick in their career."
The Clan's last victory came against the Dinos in the second-last game of the '04 season at McMahon Stadium Oct. 23, 2004, 14-12. After being down 12-7, the Clan scored a touchdown with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to take a 14-12 lead. The Dinos couldn't drive to the win and surrendered the ball on downs after a 37-yard drive. The Clan held onto the ball in the final minutes to secure the win.
In a strange series of coincidences, 2004 was the last season the Dinos made the playoffs, a feat they're trying to accomplish this year again. But to guarantee a spot in the Canada West final four, the Dinos will have to beat both SFU and their next opponent, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
Because of the Clan's recent history, it's easy to look past the 0-6 squad this year, a feeling Johnson acknowledges.
"I'm assuming everyone we've played has come into the game expecting victory," said Johnson. "We've done some very good things this year, we just haven't done them often enough. We were beating Alberta, we were beating Saskatchewan at half time, [and] we were beating UBC at half time. We're much more competitive than we were around here last year."
The Clan may be on an 0-23 run in conference play, but there is no speculation of the team moving out of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport to a lower league. Johnson, a former Dinos defensive coordinator, noted that the Clan has a strong tradition and they are hopeful that the current losing string isn't going to last forever.
"SFU football has put more people in the CFL than any other school in the country," said Johnson. "We've got a tremendous tradition. We'll be back [and] competitive in the near future. Right now we're struggling and we're down. We're not looking to go backwards to play lesser competition by any stretch."