This is sort of a strange thread I guess, but my question is:
What was the best Tiger-Cat team not to have won the Grey Cup?
In recent memory, the 2001 team was pretty good (11-7) but due to scheduling quirks caused by 9/11, they were forced to play several games in a short span and were exhausted. They lost in the Eastern final to Winnipeg. If they'd made it past Winnipeg, I think they'd have beat Calgary that year in the Grey Cup--they swept the season series with the Stamps. Of course, this is just speculation and means nothing. I'm not taking anything anyway from the teams that were in the Grey Cup that year.
Anyway, point is, what other Ticat teams could have won a Grey Cup but didn't? I know the 1981 team went 11-4-1 and wasn't in the Grey Cup.
They went 11-4-1, only to get inexplicably beat out of the playoffs by 5-11 Ottawa. It would've been an interesting matchup with Edmonton, considering the two teams tied earlier in the year (Labour Day?). I know you already precluded this one, but it is the one that immediately springs to mind.
Then again, the '81 Cup was a pretty fine game, what with the big lead, then the comeback, and then the double interference call.
I think the ones mentioned are all really good candidates.
I especially like that 1981 team, because it's a great team that never even got to the Cup game. Tom Clements was terrific that year.
One other I recall like that... 1970. Like 1981 this was a team that didn't actually get to the Grey Cup, though we finished first in the regular season. This was Joe Restic's third and final year as head coach before he left for Harvard. He was an offensive guru. Joe Zuger was at his best, and we still had the nucleus of our powerhouse defences of the 1960s. It was John Barrow's last season before retirement. We finished first overall in the east, but Montreal peaked at the right time and knocked us off in the 2 game east final even though they had finished third in the season. The Als went on to win the Grey Cup that year, quite a Cinderella story.
I know it's going back a long way, but I'd say 1958 and 1959 and 1962 would have to rank up there too, among years we played for the Cup and lost. We had Bernie Faloney in his prime at QB, and some tough defensive players too, like Barrow and Mosca and Goldston. We were coached by Jungle Jim Trimble, but were up against the Bud Grant coached Blue Bombers in the Cup each year. Bud always seemed to have the upper hand on us.
I'd have to agree with 1981. After a somewhat embarassing 1980 Grey Cup game, the team came back with a passion with Tom Clements at the helm. I still remember that playoff game against Ottawa. Pat Stoqua .... (who the heck was he?) burned us for a deep touchdown. What a disappointment.
1989 was a disappointment, but it was such a great game. Earl Winfield playing defense was something I didn't expect to see.
I know we were 2-16 that year, so I must be crazy right? Well, we didn't make that many changes going into 1998. We changed coaches, added a QB and a slot. The defence was pretty much set...and then we went on to 2 straight Cups.
1981 was a great explosive team but maybe coach kush burnt them out, but the horrible memory was pat stoqua's 100 yard td for ottawa in the east final that killed us late in the game.
turns out edm came out flat in the cup and barely beat jc watts and the riders, me thinks we may have had the best opportunity to break edm's 5 straight cup streak except we didn't show up to the dance like we were suppose to.
ps.... 81 labour tie vs edm maybe best game i ever witnessed.
yeah stoqua. i think maybe it was harold woods (or david shaw)? who missed a tackle in front of the cat bench which sprung him.
the next year ottawa upset us again in the 82 east semi final thanks to skip walker running in down our throats.
83 team jelled going into the playoffs and deserved to beat toronto in the east final that year (we got robbed) with a vet like dieter brock we may have beaten bc as the argos did that year.
i think the loss in 98 gave the team the motivation to beat calg in 99.
remember we came from last to first in 98. garcia killed us. never forget archie's run to set up what i thought would have been the winning td.
Definately 81 - Coached by Frank Kush and QB'd by Tom Clements. The team was easily the class of the league but they lose in the playoffs to a team with 4 wins!!! what an embarassment and a disaster it wasn't long before Kush was gone and the Ticats traded Clements to Winnipeg for Brock.