Tuesday, August 19, 2014

McCrystal To Step Down as U of R Rams Coach At End Of Season

Frank McCrystal announced Tuesday night he will retire from his position as head coach of the University of Regina Rams football club effective Dec. 31, 2014.
McCrystal assumed the reins of the Rams program in 1984 and coached the team during its final 15 seasons at the junior level. The team won seven national junior championships under McCrystal, who was twice voted the Canadian Junior Football Coach of the Year.
In 1999, McCrystal oversaw the transition of the team to collegiate play, as the Rams joined the University of Regina and began competition in the Canada West Conference of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (later renamed Canadian Interuniversity Sport).  In only the team’s second year at the collegiate level, McCrystal guided the Rams to a Hardy Cup championship, a victory in the Atlantic Bowl, and a Vanier Cup appearance.
In 2007, after leading the Rams to a 6–2 regular season record and an appearance in the Hardy Cup, McCrystal received the Frank Tindall Trophy as CIS Coach of the Year. He was also named 2007 Canada West Coach of the Year.
“It has been a pleasure to work with so many great young kids during my tenure as head coach of the Rams,” McCrystal said. “I will look back at my time with this organization with great pride for what we accomplished and fond memories of the people I worked so closely with over the last three decades.”
McCrystal has coached a number of players during his time that have moved up to the professional ranks, including four players now playing in the National Football League. Akiem Hicks, who starred for the Rams under McCrystal in 2010 and 2011, became just the second Canada West player to be drafted directly into the NFL after being selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jon Ryan, drafted in 2004 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, later moved to the NFL and won a Super Bowl as a member of the Seattle Seahawks.  Stefan Charles is currently a member of the Buffalo Bills, while long snapper Jorgen Hus is with the St. Louis Rams.
McCrystal has also helped produce a number of standout football players for the CFL, including current Saskatchewan Roughriders Chris Getzlaf, Brendon LaBatte, and Neal Hughes and Calgary Stampeders starting centre Brett Jones. The list of former Rams that played in the CFL also includes Jason Clermont, who was a standout receiver for the BC Lions and the Roughriders.
“The University of Regina has been fortunate to have such a talented football coach in Frank McCrystal,” said Dick White, athletics director for the University of Regina. “Frank’s dedication to his players and commitment to football is evident in the winning tradition that he helped build with this team over the last three decades.
(Courtesy Braden Konschuh U of R Athletics)

Bombers Signature Unis

Say what you want about the Riders signature jersey, but it beats this one and beats it soundly.

Chick and Bagg Get CFL POW Honours

Saskatchewan Roughrider defensive end John Chick and wide receiver Rob Bagg have each been named a CFL Player of the Week.

For the second consecutive week and third time this season, Chick was named Defensive Player of the Week. The 31-year-old Wyoming native registered four defensive tackles, three quarterback sacks and a forced fumble in Saturday’s 16-11 win versus the vising Montreal Alouettes. It was the fourth game this season in which Chick has registered multiple quarterback sacks.

Through seven games Chick has 22 defensive tackles, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a league leading 12 quarterback sacks. It is the fifth time in five CFL seasons that Chick has picked up Defensive Player of the Week.

Bagg was named Canadian Player of the Week after his own impressive week eight performance. The 29-year-old Kingston, ON native caught six passes for 90 yards including a pivotal 30 yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter.

The seven year CFL veteran has one touchdown on the season while currently leading the Riders with 25 catches and 359 yards after seven games. It is the fourth time in his career Bagg has picked up Player of the Week honours.

This is the seventh and eighth time this season that a Rider has earned Player of the Week honours after John Chick (three), Ricky Foley (twice), Sam Hurl, Rob Bagg and Jerome Messam have all been recognized.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Something To "Mitch" About

"Would you rather us throw for 500 yards and lose?" That is the question Rob Bagg posed to everyone who was grumbling about the performance of the offence on Saturday night as the Riders won an ugly one 16-11 over Montreal. Bagg is absolutely right. Whether you win a football game 1-0 or 5-4 as was the case at one point Saturday night or 54-53, the bottom line is winning the football game and getting the two points. The Riders won, they got the two points. It was as ugly as could be, but there are no style points given out.

Here are some of my thoughts as I walked out of Mosaic Saturday night

--The Darian Durant haters just won't accept the guy for whatever reason. Listening to the CKRM post-game show on the way home, callers were quick to throw blame on the Riders QB for the offensive performance. ???? I just don't get it. I don't know what the haters want. This guy stays in the pocket on the Rob Bagg touchdown knowing he is going to get clobbered yet he absorbs that hit to make the play. He runs a quarterback draw not once, but twice to get a first down late in the game to keep a drive alive and kill the clock. He didn't turn the ball over. He was sixty percent on completion percentage. Was every throw great? No. Does Darian deserve the criticism he still gets? NO! There's no use banging your head against the wall trying to figure it out. Some people just won't give credit where credit is due. Its the same with Brendan Taman. As Luc Mullinder so aptly put it on the 620 CKRM post-game show, you won't realize what you had until he is gone. If he wins another Grey Cup during his time here, he will arguably be the greatest Rider to ever have worn the uniform having taken this team to the promised land twice if not more. Perhaps these Durant haters would rather have the likes of Kevin Mason, Reggie Slack or Marvin Graves quarterbacking the team. It's frustrating, but its amusing as well. It also makes me laugh when people say its the media creating the criticism. Yeah. its the media phoning in to the post-game shows, yeah, its the media who write anonymously for the most part into the blogs, yeah, its the media's fault. People that throw that at me just make me chuckle.

--John Chick is John Chick. What more can you say about him that hasn't been said.

--Tom Higgins can rationalize it anyway he wants, but he screwed up by not going for two after the Duron Carter touchdown late in the 4th. Higgins said there was enough time to get the ball back. He's right, but going for two at least means you get the ball back and you are tied instead of behind. If there was lots of time left, why gamble on 3rd and 4 from midfield with 1:45 left when they could have punted and maybe won some field position. Higgins arguably blew it for the Alouettes on this night.

--Al Bradbury and his crew did nothing to heighten the image of CFL officials. The offside call on John Chick in the first half was perhaps the worst call I have seen this year. If that isn't, then his explanation on the no pass interference on Chris Getzlaf because the two were running side-by-side is. ???????? I asked people on Twitter what they would grade old Al's crew for their performance Saturday night. I gave them a C Minus and many who answered said I was being generous.

--It was a very classy move by many Rider fans to give Taj Smith a nice ovation when he caught his first pass. I'm sure that meant a lot to #88 who you know is going through some battles. The Riders are giving this kid every opportunity to stick around, but they've told him the time to grow up is now. Rider fans let Taj know they are on his side and it was encouraging to see.

--Why doesn't the kisscam ever venture up to the pressbox and focus in on Carm and Rod? Tell me the place wouldn't go ballistic as Carm planted one on RP or vice-versa!

--I like Chris Milo, but I think he needs to be pushed a little. Bringing a body in wouldn't be the worst thing for the Riders kicker. Competition is always good.

Other thoughts

--The CFL has to start becoming concerned over the bad football games we are seeing. I was told by some that if I thought the game at Mosaic was bad it was nothing compared to the Edmonton-Ottawa game. These games are starting to become commonplace and its not fan-friendly. I'm not sure how you fix it, but somewhere somehow the CFL must find a way to create some excitement and perhaps it will come, but right now the product isn't appealing to the fan and that is not a good sign.

--I hate to say it, but it looks like Weston Dressler's dream of playing in the NFL is over. I was excited to see Weston get a chance even if it was a small one to do his thing with a national audience on FOX watching but sadly all we saw of Dressler was him sitting on the bench before the game started. He stayed on the bench too as far as I could see as he didn't catch any passes or return any kicks. My guess is Weston will be back in the CFL by Labour Day and he will be wearing green despite talk of him landing in Ottawa or Toronto. Brendan Taman will not let #7 get away.

--John Cena will be awfully sore this morning after the "pummelling" he took at the hands of Brock Lesnar. A man should not get thrown on his head and neck 16 times the way Cena did. Yes its scripted, but you still have to sell it to make it look good.

--Did Triple H reach into the wardrobe of his ex-woman Chyna when giving an outfit for current wife Stephanie McMahon to wear. The boss' daughter looked like she was wearing garb from the 90's diva in the ring for her match against Brie Bella which surprised very few methinks.

--The Blue Jays are done. At this rate, I can't help but wonder if they will be a 500 team the way they are plummeting in the standings. I still say opportunity blown at the deadline. Some disagree and that's fine. All I know is while others strengthened their team, the Jays did not for whatever reason.

--Where was all the rain we were supposed to get this weekend? Saturday was calling for 10-20 millimeters in Regina. Where was it? Environment Canada---10 percent accurate 90 percent of the time.

--Sounds like the event of the year was held at the Turvey Centre Friday night with the Frank McCrystal roast. I've heard many a story from many a person. I shoulda went!

--Congrats to the Regina Thunder as they beat the Hilltops 19-16 in overtime. Its never a bad thing when you beat the Hilltops is it Regina.

--Congrats also to the Regina kids representing Canada at the Little League Junior and Senior World Series. The junior team barely lost out on qualifying for a semi-final. It was said they were the best Canadian reps perhaps ever sent to Taylor Michigan at the Juniors. That's a good thing.

--Have a great week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Over to You Rod, Over To You Phil, Over to You Pete

This And That

Are you ready for some football?  The forecast is calling for weather that may be a little wet, but the rain that is being called for should be out of the way for a 5 o'clock kickoff at the best place to be in Canada on game day. On paper, one would think the Montreal Alouettes would be hard-pressed to get the ball in the endzone against that fierce Riders defence, but they don't play the game on paper and anything can happen. I expect the Riders to win and cover the 13 1/2 point spread, but who knows in the CFL.
As is usual to end the week, here are some thoughts running through my muddled brain in no particular order...
  • Is a loss on Saturday night the end for Tom Higgins? It hasn't gone well for the Alouettes coach and the team seems to be in big sense of disarray. They fired Dan Hawkins last year when the team was 2-3 and that team was considerably better than what I've seen. If the Riders win, we'll find out soon.
  • Did anyone see Glen Johnson's interview on TSN the other night? He suggested penalties are up because of all the new players in the league especially those in  Ottawa still trying to learn the game. Yeah Glen, Henry Burris, Keith Shologan and Jovon Johnson are all wet behind the ears rookies. The game has been significantly hampered by the work of the stripes this year and they need to start doing a better job. Johnson needed to come out and say something to appease the fan, but that wasn't it.
  • Its been running back roulette in Saskatchewan this year with Anthony Allen, Will Ford, Hugh Charles and Jerome Messam all carrying the rock, but its been worse in Calgary. Jon Cornish, Anthony Walter, Martell Mallett have all had a turn running the ball and now Charles is supposed to start this week. The similarities end there though as John Hufnagel has had to rotate different guys in because of injury while you know the situation here.
  • Ricky Ray had no receivers and he threw for almost 300 yards in a victory over Winnipeg. He isn't washed up and may be proving why he was the #1 pick in the TSN top 50.
  • How are Rider fans on the east side going to treat Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson? How will he treat them? (BLOGGER NOTE: We won't find out, I have just found out the Alouettes aren't bringing him on the trip as he is hurt. DAMN!)
  • It was too hot for me on Thursday, but I'd rather have that than 50 below with the windchill. Then again, I can sleep in an un air conditioned home when its 50 below. SIGHHHH!!!

  • Thursday was Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queens across Canada. The heat had a lot to do with it, but I think every Reginan decided to get a Blizzard. I stopped at one and saw a lineup outside the door so I went to another one and once again there was a wait outside the door with the wait on the street for the drive-thru making me think I was at Tim Hortons. It was for a great cause though so good job Regina!
  • I am a fan of potato chips, but all four of the flavours Lays has in their contest are somewhat stomach-turning. A cinnamon bun flavoured potato chip. Uhhhhhhhhh no!
  • Is the summer truly over when Pats training camp gets set to start. Hockey season is here.  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for the fact that the Pats are getting back at it, but can we wait until after Labour Day?
  • NISSAN Canada's "Back in the Game" program is helping 21 high schools across Canada with their football program by doing something whether it be renovating facilities to donating equipment. Regina's Johnson High School is the only Saskatchewan school involved. NISSAN is giving Johnson new helmets. I spoke with their head coach Jason Janssen about this and he is over the moon. Helmets are a costly thing and not a lot of kids are playing football at Johnson so its tough to get the $$$$. He is hoping this might draw some more kids out to play and I hope he's right. TSN will follow the exploits of some of the schools NISSAN is helping this year so I hope Johnson gets some air time on a CFL broadcast.
  • NHL number one draft pick overall Aaron Ekblad was talking about a concussion he received recently on TSN Thursday night. He looked like Vanilla Ice!!!! That look has to change and change soon!
  • OK Coke, I'm more of a Pepsi guy anyways, but if you had a can with my name on it, I might change my mind and get some. I guess you don't think "Mitchell" is a good enough name so I will just keep getting Pepsi. Thanks though
  • John Cena will beat Brock Lesnar at Summerslam
  • The HIW gang is back in Regina tonight as they have a show happening at the Exchange. The Access crews start rolling again on HIW in September. They have been touring the province and from all accounts they have had great shows. The guys behind the curtain are working hard to make a success of this and slowly, but surely they are succeeding. If you were at some of the shows across the province, you might have seen a young lady named Jaida in the ring. Jaida wasn't at shows after last weekend, but she had a good reason. She was in Portland, Oregon standing in the ring with Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella as they got WWE fans ready for their match at Summerslam. Jaida was playing the role of Daniel Bryan's (Brie's real life husband) massage therapist and told the crowd she was having an affair with Daniel. From a crowd of 500 one night in La Ronge to that of 16-thousand a couple of nights later in Portland. That's the life of a wrestler boys and girls.  
  •  A Seattle NHL team might drop the Oilers to my number 2 team. Might I said.  I wonder where their rink would be and if it would be close to CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field which are side by side. There is certainly room in that area of the city for a hockey arena. Time will tell.
  • Have a great weekend!  GO RIDERS!!!  GO SEAHAWKS!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chick and Messam Get CFL Player Awards

Saskatchewan Roughrider defensive end John Chick and running back Jerome Messam have each been named a CFL Player of the Week.

Chick was named Defensive Player of the Week after another impressive performance in Thursday’s 23-17 victory over the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. The 31-year-old Wyoming native wreaked havoc while registering five defensive tackles and three quarterback sacks.

For the season, Chick has 18 defensive tackles, six tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and a league leading nine quarterback sacks. This is the fourth time in five CFL seasons that Chick has picked up Defensive Player of the Week and second time this season.

Messam was named Canadian Player of the Week after an equally impressive week seven performance. The 29-year-old Toronto native powered his way to 126 yards on 19 carries as the Rider offence stuck to the ground attack.

The five year CFL veteran boosted his season totals 140 yards on 26 carries in four games since joining the Riders. It is the seventh time in his career Messam has picked up Player of the Week honours.

It is the fifth and sixth time this season that a Rider has earned Player of the Week honours after Ricky Foley (twice), John Chick (twice), Sam Hurl and Jerome Messam have all been recognized.