It’s slated to be one of the biggest nights in Canadian sports history — and a former Kansas Jayhawk could have a starring role.
Jon Cornish, a former KU running back, will lead the Calgary Stampeders against the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. It’s the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup, the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl, and authorities are pulling out all the stops.
Canadian pop stars Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen will be on hand to perform. But the real Canadian idol could be Cornish, a former All-Big 12 running back who rushed for 1,457 yards this season, breaking a 56-year-old CFL record for most rushing yards by a Canadian.
Cornish, a native of New Westminster, B.C., also won the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian award.
"At the end of the season,” Cornish told reporters earlier this week. “I won't be looking so much back on my own accomplishments … but most of all that I helped a few people on this team achieve their dreams."
It’s been a wild year for Cornish, who set KU’s single-season rushing record with 1,457 yards (the same mark as his Canadian record) in 2006 and then began his Canadian career as a backup. He drew a fine for mooning the crowd during a game in Saskatchewan, and he sparked national headlines in Canada for revealing that his mother, Margaret Cornish, was married to another woman. A former art teacher, Margaret Cornish is now a priest in the Anglican Church.
"People are always surprised when I tell them about my mom's situation,” Cornish
told The Vancouver Sun
, adding that he first learned of his mom’s new relationship while home from Kansas at Christmas. “But for me, it's something I'm proud of. Because she'd been through a lot, and she finally found someone who she loved, and for me, there's nothing more positive in the world."
Cornish will now have an opportunity to take his Canadian celebrity to another level on Sunday, when his Stampeders, 14-6, take on Toronto, 11-9. But earlier in the week, when he received his league honors, he took a few moments to thank his family.
"I want to thank my mom -- my two moms, really," Cornish said. "Because what are we without our families?"