Friday, November 29, 2013

This And That

I don't think this will be a long posting as I am off to the Emerald City---Seattle, Washington--for the next few days. The reason for the trip is simple.

Monday Night Football at the mecca that is CenturyLink Field. Rider fans had their Grey Cup on Sunday and I will have mine on Monday as I will sit in the stands and cheer on my team the way you did yours on Sunday.  Its been far too long since I've been to one of my favourite places and I can't wait to get back.  It will be the New Orleans Saints against the Seattle Seahawks with U of R Rams alumni Akiem Hicks on one sideline and Jon Ryan on the other-----in an NFL game! That's definitely a first for the program and perhaps a last. From what I understand, there is quite a Regina contingent going to this tilt. I hope I run into some of them.

Just some thoughts....

  --Did you look at that list of CFL free agents? It is safe to say Rider GM Brendan Taman can't bask in the glory of the win long enough as he has some quality FA's to re-sign. There are a lot of good football players out there and not all will stay with their old squads.

 --There is talk Henry Burris is a one and done in Hamilton. Can you see him with another team going into 2014. I can't unless its Montreal where I'm sure Anthony Calvillo will finally hang them up

--Now that he has won a Grey Cup, can people please start calling Corey Chamblin by his real name and not refer to him as "Chamberlain". That bugs me!

--Speaking of Chamblin, I'm not sure if you caught "Sportscage" on Wednesday, but the coach definitely pulled one over on myself, Rod and I'm guessing many. Rod asked Coach C if he could not tell us what injuries Darian was battling---in particular his ribs.  Chamblin went on to say they shot Darian six times with a needle before the Grey Cup game and he took several needles in his ankle as well during the playoffs before admitting he was joking. By that time, the jaws of both Rod and myself were on the floor with our eyes bulged wide as he confessed to yanking our chain. YIKES!!!

--When Darian left, I wonder if he called the Regina Humane Society to see if anyone turned in that monkey he lost off his back Sunday night. Darian let loose in the locker room after the game about the haters and what they could do. He also said he never ever wants to leave this place and he would die for this team. Admirable traits for a quarterback dont'cha think. 

--One last Durant comment. Take his regular season and add it to his playoffs and look at his numbers. In the history of this football team has a quarterback had better numbers than what he had. I don't think so. This guy was on fire right from night one and while the embers did diminish somewhat in September, the fire burned brightly at the end of the year. 

--Have you bought a champions shirt or hat yet? Guilty as charged although its not the black ones the guys had on after the game. I need to get one of those.

--The Rider fan base has been referred to as "arrogant twerps" by a writer named Malcolm Kelly. I have two words for Mr. Kelly.  Who cares! We are at the top of the ladder now and after years of being the poor kid at the kids table we can now survive on our own. If we can't brag about that a little and the fact we've got a damn good football team than too bad. Methinks there's a little jealousy there. 

--How much coin will I drop at the Seahawks store this weekend?

--The Green Bay Packers are proving how one man can have the fortunes of his squad in his hand. Green Bay fans have to be calling for the return of Aaron Rodgers.

--Week 13 NFL Lock Of The Week ---Seahawks over Saints
   Week 13 NFL Upset Of The Week  ---Bengals over Chargers

--Washington State and Washington are meeting at Husky Stadium Friday afternoon in the game for annual state bragging rights. I wish the game was at night so I could be there. Oh well!

--Has the city ever considered putting some lights up on the Ring Road between south Albert and Assiniboine. Its needed is it not?

--The Pats are home tonight for the first time in a month. They've been playing some good hockey and with football season over its time to start paying them some attention. 

--14 games into the NBA season and the Toronto Raptors lead their division??? Oh wait, they are on top of the Atlantic Division with a 6-8 record---that's better!

--I'm still trying to wrap my head around the Rogers/NHL deal and how TSN just got kicked to the curb. The way we change hockey is going to change my friends. I just hope the suits at Sportsnet realize how bad some of their hockey people are compared to what TSN has and makes changes on both their national and regional levels.

--Could this end up in my good friend Peter Loubardias working at TSN? I'm hoping so.

--Very interesting piece in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix about the CRTC saying Saskatoon doesn't need a radio station because they have enough. The SP likens the CRTC to Communist Russia. I can't say I disagree. The article says Anchorage, Alaska has 30 stations for a population that is far less than what Saskatoon has. Saskatoon or Regina for that matter doesn't need 30 stations in the marketplace despite the growing population, but how the CRTC can determine yes and no is a little baffling. I think competition is good so I would welcome another couple of stations into the Regina market.

--How could Family Guy kill off Brian? That is like "The Simpsons" getting rid of Lisa. I don't like it!

--OK this was longer than I thought it would be. 

--Talk to you next week! GO SEAHAWKS!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2014 List Of CFL Free Agents

Martin Bedard, FB, Non-Import
J.P. Bekasian, DL*, Non-Import
Josh Bourke, OL, Non-Import
Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, C, Non-Import
Marc-Olivier Brouillette, LB, Non-Import
Michael Carter, DB, Non-Import
Alan-Michael Cash, DT, Import
Noel Devine, RB, Import
Curtis Dublanko, LB, Non-Import
Shea Emry, LB, Non-Import
Ed Gainey, DB, Import
Kyries Hebert, LB, Import
Josh Neiswander, QB, Import
Michael Ola, OL, Import
Billy Parker, DB, Import,
Rafael Priest, DB, Import
Brian Ridgeway, LB, Import
Daryl Townsend, DB, Non-Import
Sean Whyte, K, Non-Import

Adriano Belli, DT, Non-Import
Mike Bradwell, SB, Non-Import
Ahmad Carroll, DB*, Import
Zach Collaros, QB, Import
Danny Desriveaux, WR, Non-Import*
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Import
Jeff Johnson, RB, Non-Import
Andrew Jones, OL, Non-Import
David Lee, DL, Non-Import
Robert McCune, LB, Import
Chad Rempel, WR, Non-Import
Zander Robinson, DE, Non-Import
Wayne Smith, OL, Non-Import
Swayze Waters, K, Import
Patrick Watkins, DB, Import
Andrew Woodson, RB, Non-Import
Jordan Younger, DB, Import

Marc Beswick, DB, Non-Import
Henry Burris, QB, Import
Luca Congi, K, Non-Import
Torrey Davis, DL, Import
Kevin Eiben, LB*, Non-Import
Jamall Johnson, LB, Import
Simoni Lawrence, LB, Import
Kevin Scott, ST, Non-Import

Chris Cvetkovic, FB, Non-Import
Andre Douglas, OT, Import
Jade Etienne, WR, Non-Import
Will Ford, RB, Import
Akeem Foster, WR, Non-Import
JT Gilmore, DE, Import
Jovon Johnson, CB, Import
Rory Kohlert, WR, Non-Import
Chris Kowalczuk, OL, Non-Import
Pierre-Luc Labbe, LB, Non-Import
Ryan Lucas, DL, Non-Import
Kenny Mainor, DL, Import
Chris Matthews, WR, Import
Steven Morley, OT, Non-Import
Henoc Muamba, LB, Non-Import
Marc Parenteau, OL, Non-Import
Michel-Pierre Pontbriant, FB, Non-Import
Mike Renaud, P, Non-Import
Chad Simpson, RB, Import
Justin Sorensen, OL, Non-Import
Brandon Stewart, DB, Non-Import
Alex Suber, DB, Non-Import
Dan West, LB, Non-Import

Graeme Bell, RB, Non-Import
Craig Butler, DB, Non-Import
Weston Dressler, SB, Import
Alex Hall, DL, Import
Aarron Hargreaves, WR, Non-Import
Victor Harris, DB, Import
Brent Hawkins, DE, Import*
Kierrie Johnson, WR, Import
Abraham Kromah, LB, Import
Terrell Maze, DB, Import
Jermaine McElveen, DL, Import
Chris Milo, K, Non-Import
Graig Newman, DB, Non-Import
Jock Sanders, RB, Import
Ricky Schmitt, K, Import
Kory Sheets, RB, Import
Taj Smith, WR, Import
Drew Willy, QB, Import
Paul Woldu, DB, Non-Import

Jabari Arthur, WR, Non-Import
Fred Bennett, DB, Import
Demonte' Bolden, DL, Import
Derrius Brooks, LB, Import
Marc Calixte, LB, Non-Import*
Randy Chevrier, LB, Non-Import
Rob Cote, RB, Non-Import
Johnny Forzani, WR, Non-Import
Arjei Franklin, WR, Non-Import*
Jeff Hecht, DB, Non-Import
Malik Jackson, LB, Import
Cordarro Law, DL, Import
Etienne Legare, DL, Non-Import
Anthony Prker, WR, Non-Import
Maurice Price, WR, Import
Chris Randle, DB, Import
Juwan Simpson, LB, Import
Dorian Smith, DL, Import*
Tim St. Pierre, RB, Non-Import
Dimitri Tsoumpas, OL, Non-Import
Jamar Wall, DB, Import

Joe Burnett, DB, Import
Matt Carter, WR, Non-Import
Hugh Charles, RB, Import
Cary Koch, WR, Import
Brandon Lang, DE, Import
Ted Laurent, DT, Non-Import
Michael Miller, DB, Non-Import
Scott Mitchell, OL, Non-Import
Damaso Munoz, LB, Import
Matt Nichols, QB, Import
Orrin Thompson, OL, Import

Josh Bell, DB, Import
Stu Foord, RB, Non-Import
Dan McCullough, Non-Import*
Nick Moore, WR, Import
Steve Myddleton, OL, Import
Keron Williams, DE, Import

U of R Action This Weekend

Home Canada West Events
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, Friday (6:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Women’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, Friday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre
Men’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, Friday (8:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Women’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, Saturday (5:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Men’s Volleyball – vs. UBC, Saturday (7:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Women’s Hockey – vs. Calgary, Saturday (7:00 p.m.) at The Co-operators Centre

Home Non-Conference Events
Track & Field – Intrasquad Meet, Saturday (11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) at CKHS
Track & Field – Intrasquad Meet, Saturday (2:30 to 4:30 p.m.) at Regina Fieldhouse

Away Canada West Events
Women’s Basketball – at Lethbridge, Friday (6:00 p.m. MST) in Lethbridge, Alta.
Men’s Hockey – at Calgary, Friday (7:00 p.m. MST) in Calgary, Alta.
Men’s Basketball – at Lethbridge, Friday (8:00 p.m. MST) in Lethbridge, Alta.
Women’s Basketball – at Lethbridge, Saturday (5:00 p.m. MST) in Lethbridge, Alta.
Men’s Hockey – at Calgary, Saturday (6:00 p.m. MST) in Calgary, Alta.
Men’s Basketball – at Lethbridge, Saturday (7:00 p.m. MST) in Lethbridge, Alta.

Away Non-Conference Events
Men’s Wrestling – vs. Dickinson State, Wednesday (5:00 p.m.) in Weyburn, Sask.

Women’s Hockey (CIS Ranking: No. 10) – The Cougars fell to 8-5-1 on the season after a regulation loss and an overtime loss to the University of Saskatchewan last weekend in Saskatoon. Though the Cougars are now in fifth place in Canada West, they’re just four points behind first-place UBC with Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba between them in the tightly packed standings. The U of R returns home this weekend for games on Friday night and Saturday night against Calgary.

Women’s Volleyball – The Cougars earned a weekend road split with No. 2-ranked Trinity Western, sweeping the Spartans in straight sets on Friday before losing in four on Saturday to push their Canada West record to 3-7. The U of R finishes out the first half of the conference schedule at home this weekend with matches against top-ranked UBC, which comes in with a 10-0 record on the season. First serve is scheduled for 6:00 on Friday night and 5:00 on Saturday night.

Men’s Volleyball – The Cougars were defeated twice on the road by Trinity Western last weekend, the No. 2-ranked team in the CIS. And the schedule gets no easier for the U of R this weekend, as the Cougars play their final matches before the December break at home against No. 3-ranked UBC (7-3) in what will be the third and fourth of 10 consecutive matches against teams currently ranked in the CIS Top Ten. Friday’s match has an 8:00 p.m. start time and Saturday’s first serve is set for 7:00 p.m.

Track & Field – It’s the first competition of the 2013-14 season for the men’s and women’s track teams on Saturday, as the Cougars will compete in an intrasquad meet. The first session will go from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the CKHS (60, 300, long jump, and triple jump) and the second session is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Regina Fieldhouse (high jump, shot put, weight throw).

Men’s Hockey – The Cougars scored a two-game sweep over Saskatchewan in a midweek home-and-home, winning 3-1 in Regina last Wednesday and following that up with a 4-3overtime win in Saskatoon the following night. Liam Brennan scored the game-winning goals in both games, while both Brody Luhning and Tyler Henry had three-point nights on Thursday for the third-place Cougars (8-6-0). The U of R travels to Calgary for two road games against the No. 2-ranked Dinos (13-0-1) on Friday and Saturday.

Women’s Basketball (CIS Ranking: No. 5) – The Cougars (6-2) moved up one spot in this week’s CIS Top Ten thanks to road wins over both Mount Royal and UNBC and Fraser Valley’s losses to Alberta and Saskatchewan. Tied for second place in the Prairie Division with Alberta and Calgary, the Cougars return to the court this weekend with road games on both Friday and Saturday against Lethbridge (3-5).

Men’s Basketball – It was a difficult travel weekend for the Cougars as they played games in Calgary and Prince George in the span of 24 hours, but the U of R came up with a weekend split after a tight loss to Mount Royal on Friday and a one-point win over UNBC on Saturday in which rookie Ryan Delwo hit a breakaway layup with six seconds left for the win. The Cougars (2-6) will battle the University of Lethbridge (5-3) this Friday and Saturday in Lethbridge.

Men’s Wrestling – Jacob Luczak led the Cougars with championship at 82 kg on Saturday at the Huskie Open in Saskatoon. Luczak defeated opponents from Alberta, Calgary, and Winnipeg on the way to the title, while Matt Fedler turned in a strong second-place performance at 72 kg for the Cougars. The U of R will travel to Weyburn on Wednesday to meet Dickinson State in a dual at Weyburn Comprehensive School (5:00 p.m.).

Women’s Wrestling – Kristine Longeau’s second-place showing at 72 kg was the top performance for the Cougars at the Huskie Open on Saturday in Saskatoon. Indhyra Linares added a fourth-place finish at 63 kg for the Cougars, who will return to the mats at the Golden Bear Open on Jan. 4 in Edmonton.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lions Part Ways With Their O-C

The BC Lions Football Club announced this morning that it has arrived at a mutual decision with offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine to part ways.

“Jacques has been a big part of our past success,” said head coach Mike Benevides. “He presided over two championship offenses and two Most Outstanding Players during his time with the club and I am grateful for his hard work and dedication during our time together. At this time however, we agree that it is in the best interest of both parties to proceed in a new direction.”

Originally joining the Lions in 2003 as the team’s receivers coach, Chapdelaine was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2005. Following the club’s 2006 championship, he departed the Lions to become the offensive coordinator of the Edmonton Eskimos. He returned to the Lions the following year as receivers coach and was again promoted to offensive coordinator in 2010 where he would remain until this past season.

“After taking some time to reflect on this past season, I’ve concluded that both I and the BC Lions need a change moving forward,” said Chapdelaine. “It has been a great privilege to work with Lions players, coaches and many other members of this outstanding organization.”

(BC Lions)

Moose Jaw Gets The Scotties

Big news for Moose Jaw today as they will be the host city for the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts,. The release can be read right here

Eskimos Make It Official

Chris Jones has been named head coach of the Edmonton Eskimo Football Club.

Jones joins the Green and Gold after spending the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator, assistant head coach and assistant general manager of the Toronto Argonauts.

“Chris Jones has paid his dues in the Canadian Football League and has earned this opportunity.  His commitment to the league and record of success is impressive. I look forward to working with him,” says Eskimos General Manager Ed Hervey.

Jones began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee Tech University in 1995 and spent seven years in the NCAA before entering the CFL.

He has been to post season in each of his 12 years in the league, including seven division finals and six Grey Cup appearances with Montreal, Calgary and Toronto, winning in 2002, 2008 and 2012.

Week 13 NFL Capsules

Its turkey day in the US with three games happening tomorrow. Is it a coincidence I am starting holidays tomorrow? For a complete look at the Week 13 action, click here

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Corey Chamblin's Final Thoughts

Here are the final thoughts of Corey Chamblin as the team gets ready to head their respective ways.

Getting Ready For Telus Cup

MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Hockey Canada announced Tuesday the schedule for the 2014 TELUS Cup, which will be held at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw, Sask., from April 21-27, 2014.
The TELUS Cup, Canada’s National Midget Championship, will return to Saskatchewan for just the third time in the tournament’s 41 years, with Moose Jaw joining Regina (1985) and Prince Albert (1999) as host cities.
The tournament kicks off April 21 with three games, including the host Moose Jaw Generals taking on the Atlantic Region champions. This year’s TELUS Cup will be the first-ever appearance at the national championship for Moose Jaw.
The gold medal game will be held April 27 at 3 p.m. CT and will be shown on TSN/RDS, Hockey Canada’s official broadcasters. All preliminary round games, both semifinals and the bronze medal game will be available through webcast at
“As a result of the amazing level of dedication and volunteer hours by the members of our host committee, we could not be more excited to be the host community for the 2014 TELUS Cup,” said Chris Aparicio, co-chair of the 2014 TELUS Cup host committee. “We are very grateful to have this opportunity to showcase Moose Jaw and have the opportunity to host a most memorable experience for the players, coaches, fans and certainly our generous sponsors.”
“On behalf of the SHA Board of Directors and membership, we are extremely proud to see the City of Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw Generals, Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and Province of Saskatchewan host the TELUS Cup,” said Kelly McClintock, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association. “We want to thank the countless volunteers in Moose Jaw for making this event possible, and sincerely hope everyone from outside the province experiences our prairie hospitality.”
Hockey Canada also announced that Team Canada and Canada’s National Midget Championship alumnus Morgan Rielly will be the event ambassador. Rielly, who is in his rookie season with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and has represented Canada at the under-17, under-18 and under-20 levels, helped the Notre Dame Hounds win a gold medal at the 2010 TELUS Cup. He played his junior hockey in Moose Jaw with the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
Full-tournament ticket packages, including all 19 games, are now on sale for $75 (plus applicable fees). For more information on tickets, including how to purchase, CLICK HERE.

(Hockey Canada)

Pure Class All The Way

TSN Out Of Hockey Picture

The National Hockey League says it has reached a 12-year, $5.2-billion agreement with Rogers Communications for the league's broadcast and multimedia rights.
As part of the deal, Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) says the CBC will continue to air its iconic "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast and that the TVA network in Quebec has all of the Canadian French-language multi-media rights.
The league says the deal gives Rogers national rights to all NHL games, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final, on all of its platforms in all languages.
In addition, the NHL says the agreement guarantees that there will be no further regionalization of games or local blackouts. Rogers has three exclusive windows to broadcast any game involving a Canadian team — Wednesday nights, Saturday nights (including CBC) and Sunday nights.
The NHL's news release early Tuesday made no mention of TSN, which currently airs a package of regular season and playoff games, prompting at least one report that the network was shut out of the bidding.
Longtime NHL analyst Bob McKenzie said in a tweet early Tuesday that ”TSN's national rights package for NHL games expires at end of this season and isn't being renewed.”
He added that TSN would, in spite of losing national rights, maintain and intensify efforts to "continue as a prime source for hockey news and information."
The NHL says the partnership with Rogers and TVA, which is subject to approval by the NHL Board of Governors, will begin with the 2014-15 season and run through the 2025-26 season. The Board of Governors will next meet Dec. 9-10 in Pebble Beach, Calif.
The league said in a statement that the agreement is the largest media rights deal in its history and one of the largest media rights deals ever in Canada, including the largest-ever sports-media rights agreement.
Executives from the NHL and Rogers scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Toronto to formally announce the deal.
"The NHL is extremely excited about the power and potential of this groundbreaking partnership," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement.
"Our fans always want to explore deeper and more emotional connections to NHL hockey, and that is precisely what Rogers has promised to deliver over the next 12 years," Bettman added.
Rogers will provide game coverage with expanded pre- and post-game coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. Rogers also has exclusive rights to special events such as future NHL All-Star Games and NHL Drafts.
In addition, Rogers said it will use its digital technology to stream games on the Internet, wireless and mobile devices, as well as satellite radio. Rogers will operate NHL Center Ice and NHL GameCenter Live in Canada.
"Sports content is a key strategic asset and we've been investing significantly to strengthen our sports offering to Canadians," said Rogers CEO and president Nadir Mohamed in a statement issued through the NHL.
"Canadians are passionate about hockey, and through this landmark partnership with the NHL we'll be able to bring hockey fans more games and more content on their platform of choice."

(Canadian Press)

Journey To The Cup

TSN's look back as to how the Riders got to the Grey Cup is must-watch TV. Check this out!!!

24 Hours Later


There are moments you will always remember in your life. The night of November 24 will go down as one of those moments.  As I walked into Mosaic Stadium on Sunday afternoon for Grey Cup 101, I knew I would walk out having seen the Saskatchewan Roughriders win the CFL championship for the 4th time. What I didn't know is just what would happen around me as that was occurring. It was a night to remember for so many different ways. A night that capped off what I think was a great lead-up to the game as football fans from across this country came together to celebrate the game. Here are some thoughts about Grey Cup week and the Grey Cup game

--The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were screwed the moment they got off the plane. They felt that cold Prairie air and I think for some it was when can we leave. Kent Austin said he wanted his team to practice in the cold on Wednesday after seeing their faces when they landed Tuesday. When I read quotes of some players in Thursday's Leader-Post including one from punter Josh Bartel where he said he would be doing a lot of complaining if it was this cold, I knew the Riders had it in the bag

--Corey Chamblin was the winner of the week as far as I am concerned. The Riders head coach was in the Grey Cup in only his 2nd year as a  head coach. It was his first appearance and some, including me, referred to him as a rookie head coach. He acted more like a cagey vet who had been through this a time or two before. The magnitude of the moment did not swallow him up. He was as loose as could be. When he was asked about what he thought about Kent Austin's banner hanging off the side of Mosaic, he said he drives in the other way so he doesn't see it while his statement about players having sex the night before the game if they remain focused and they will get all the sex they want if they win were the quotes of the week.

--Neil Donnelly and his crew should be saluted for the job they did with the events surrounding the game. There are some who were upset they couldn't get into Riderville or the team parties because the venues were jammed. What else were they supposed to do? I would have loved to gone into Riderville for a few after the Big and Rich concert Saturday night, but when everyone is going to the same spot, you aren't going to get in. It doesn't matter where the Grey Cup is, it seems Riderville just isn't big enough. I don't know what you do if you are the football team. You find the biggest spot available and it still isn't big enough. What a nice problem to have.

--I didn't get his name and I should of. There is a limo bus driver out there who came through for Mrs. Scruffy and I big-time thanks to a Regina Transit bus driver who needs a lesson or two. We took the shuttle and we got on the same bus we got on to head to Evraz  Place. Our bus was jammed going back, but he failed to stop at Vic Square much to the chagrin of myself, my wife and three others on the bus. When we asked the driver what was up, he said we had gotten on the wrong bus, but one person said he had said yes, I am stopping at Vic Square. When he was asked to drop us off at the corner of Vic and Fleet he outright refused. I don't know how those three got home, but I found the limo bus at the Best Western Eastgate. The driver had no problem in taking us home if we didn;t mind who we were going to be riding with-------that would be the band from Big and Rich. That was no problem. A huge thank you to that individual. I couldn't help but wonder though on the drive from the hotel to our place "What was Big and Rich doing staying at the Best Western Eastgate?" Nothing against that hotel, but I thought the band would be staying at one of the downtown hotels.

--Was it just me or were there a lack of Eskimos fans in Regina. I saw a lot of people wearing the jerseys of other teams, but I only saw a couple of people wearing Edmonton jerseys. Has it gotten THAT bad in the Alberta capital?

--Were the Ti-Cats trying to use the disrespect card as a motivator? They said all week this felt like a Riders game and Henry Burris says he was embarrassed at the CFL player awards because it seemed more like a Riders pep rally. Cmon Hank, we all know you're smarter than that. What would you expect to happen in football-crazed Saskatchewan where we celebrate the CFL like no other place. When we have proud alumni here, we will use them, I'm surprised Burris didn't chastise TSN for having an ex-Rider on their broadcast team.

--Now to the game itself.  It was a distinct honour to have a part in the 620 CKRM broadcast on what was the biggest Sunday for CFL fans. I didn't do a lot, but having the chance to talk the game and the week with Rod Pedersen along with co-hosting the half-time show with Phil Andrews was a tremendous treat. I knew the Ti-Cats were in big trouble when chatting with Rod as the crowd--which was about a third full at the time started yelling HENNNNNNN-RYYYYYYYYY and there were still two hours to go until kickoff. They were loud then!!!!! If it is that loud then, what would it be in two hours time. We found out.

--The league didn't like it and I'm guessing TSN didn't like it, but I loved the fact the Riders said screw it to the introductions and came out as a team. GM Brendan Taman revealed on the Sportscage Monday afternoon that he knew it was going to happen about 15 minutes before it did. The team will supposedly get fined for that act. WHO CARES???

--As the game started, I sat behind Rod and Carm. I was just over an arms length away from the pair and I could not hear them when Hamilton had the ball. If I couldn't hear those guys, how on earth could Burris guide his offense. As we know, he couldn't.

--In the 2nd half, I wandered down to Pilsner Place where the media was assembled. How could they see the game from there with fans standing up. I stood in between Global's Kent Morrison and CTV's Lindsay Dunn while talking to Morrison and he couldn't see anything. The sound was muffled as well which took away the ambience. Hey, at least those guys didn't have to walk up the ramps!!! Once again though, what are you supposed to do.

--Were the football gods watching? Of course they were. Its not every day your quarterback fumbles and the ball bounces right up in the air and into the arms of your all-star running back who takes it for 39 yards. Who knows what happens if the Riders don't get that bounce.

--Standing in the endzone waiting for the final seconds to tick off seemed like an eternity. What was it like in the stands. I had my camera focused on the scoreboard for this picture-----its the moment the clock hit zero.

--Darian Durant, as the LP's Rob Vanstone so eloquently wrote in Monday's must have edition of the paper, has ascended to the position of Riders royalty. Has a Rider quarterback ever had a three game performance like what Durant had to lead his team to the Cup. I'd have to go back and look at the playoff numbers Ronnie, Kent and Kerry put up, but I doubt it. As I have preached for a long time, Darian Durant is one of the best quarterbacks that has ever worn the green and white. I will always say if Durant did not break his ribs in 2008 the Riders would have gone to and perhaps win the Cup. That injury resulted in the Michael Bishop acquisition, I don't want to go any further. Durant had words for his detractors after the game and I had no problem with him saying what he did because he had the right to and his comments were absolutely right. The same could be said for Brendan Taman,

--Still with Rob and the LP, a tip of the hat to Rob, Murray McCormick and Ian Hamilton for the outstanding supplements provided. I don't know how those guys don't have writers cramp after the work and the articles they put in. I've always maintained there is no better sports section in Western Canada if not Canada than the one found in the Leader-Post. Rob and his cronies deserve some recognition to be thrown their way.

 --I spoke with many players for both my Riderville and CKRM duties. One of those players was Tyron Brackenridge. It must have been his duty to get guys wet, because after saying "Hey you're dry", he proceeded to then just soak me with two cans of beer. Thanks for that Brack! I found out Monday morning he also gave Premier Brad Wall a good beer bath so I guess I wasn't alone.

 --Being on the field and in the dressing room, I wanted to find guys who were on the field in 2009 and 2010 and couldn't feel the joy they were experiencing now. For guys like Dressler, Getzlaf, Shologan, etc. etc and see the looks on their face after having been here to be denied. The looks and emotions were what you would think.

--I had to seek out Jim Hopson. Jim knows my thoughts about this team and in 07, he knew the victory meant a lot to me. I'm sure he knew the same thing on Sunday night. The respect I have for the Riders president and CEO is immeasurable. Yes, he may have walked in at the right time, but he has built a tremendous group around him and its gotten to the point where he has built this team to be the CFL's elite franchise. This team as you know is no longer the poor little team on the prairies fighting to stay competitive. This is THE model franchise in the CFL. The on-field product has gotten to the Grey Cup game four times in the last seven years and that is nothing to sneeze at while you know what is happening off the field.

 --How much money just in December will Rider merchandise raise. If Rider fans don't get at least one Grey Cup champion item under their Christmas tree something will be wrong. MEMO TO SELF: Get to the Rider store today to buy a shirt!

 --Watching the game on TSN was tremendous. TSN did their usual game day Grade A performance and the old girl looked great. I loved the aerial shots of the stadium and the city.

--There's so much more I could talk about, but in the end, it all hit home Monday afternoon at 530. Brendan Taman brought the Grey Cup into the CKRM studios. It wasn't there for a promotional purpose like the Purolator Feed Hunger campaign or something else---it was there because Taman and the Riders had earned it and Brendan wanted the gang to see it. Holding that Cup was a once in a lifetime feeling.

--At the end of the day, the Riders are the champs and as Rod and I discussed Monday, everything ends on the side of the green and white. You can't criticize Taman, you can't criticize Durant, the Simon signing paid off huge at the end, the Anderson signing was tremendous, Cortez's offense can't be questioned, Hall's defense can't be questioned. The list goes on and on and on but in the end, it all turns up Riders. 2013 is over, but the memories will last all winter long and into 2014.

--Its only been 24 hours, but it still seems pretty fresh in my mind. I'm guessing I could say that in one months time, one years time and ten  years time as well. What a night! We will never experience something like that again. Mosaic's best moment was one of its last ones. When the wrecking ball hits, there may be a cheer or two that was trapped that will escape. 

--Your thoughts are always welcome! May your Tuesday have more productivity to it than your Monday because I'm guessing not many of us were working at full-speed. Can you really blame us?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grey Cup TV Numbers

The GREY CUP continues to be one of the biggest celebrations and television events in Canada, with last night’s 101st GREY CUP attracting an average audience of 4.5 million viewers on TSN. This ranks as the most-watched sports program of the broadcast year and the fourth most-watched GREY CUP on record, according to preliminary overnight data from BBM Canada. Overall, more than 11.5 million viewers, or approximately one in three Canadians, watched some part of the 2013 CFL championship on TSN and in French on RDS.

The 101st GREY CUP saw the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in front of a sea of green-clad Rider fans at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. Audience levels for the 101st GREY CUP peaked late in the second quarter, as 5.5 million viewers watched the Roughriders take a convincing 25-point lead over the Tiger-Cats.

The stunt-filled performance by Canadian multi-platinum pop group Hedley during the SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show attracted an average audience of 4.2 million viewers.

An average audience of 2 million viewers stayed to watch TSN’s extensive post-game coverage.


Something To "Mitch" About


If  one picture is worth a thousand words, then you have two-thousand words. Congratulations to the 2013 Saskatchewan Roughriders---GREY CUP CHAMPIONS!!! A salute to all 44910 that showed up and made life miserable for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. You were right in from the pre-game warmups, Well done. What now? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chats with Grey Cup Heroes Of Past

Just to get you ready for the game, and in case you missed them when played on "Sportscage" this week, interviews with the man who became legendary in Saskatchewan with just one kick----Dave Ridgway----and the man who quarterbacked the Riders to their last title in 07--Kerry Joseph.


Its Here!!!!

Good morning Rider Nation! The day has arrived! The Riders and the Ti-Cats meet in the 101st Grey Cup in what is the biggest football game Mosaic Stadium has ever played host to. The old girl will definitely be tested tonight as 45-thousand football fans----I'm guessing a majority of then wearing green---will cheer the Riders on to what will hopefully be their 4th Grey Cup championship.

The weather is co-operating --albeit the wind will be a factor. I am just wondering with the wind being a little strong if the chants of HENNNNNNNN-RYYYYYYYYYYYY will be heard in south Regina and parts beyond.

No one wants to think about the Riders losing and I don't either, but with Kent Austin on the other sidelines, you have to be prepared. The job he has done with the Tiger-Cats has been amazing----especially when you consider that technically they haven't played a home game all season. They are battle-tested.

If this game was being played any other place than Mosaic, I might be more worried about the Austin factor but I'm not. Ti-Cats punter Josh Bartel had a quote this week about the weather saying he will be complaining a lot if its this cold and CJ Gable wasn't exactly enamoured with our climate either. While it will be warmer, I don't think Hamilton is in this game. The Riders win 33-24.

I don't know what will happen inside Mosaic and I really wonder if some fans will try to swarm the field. Part of me thinks that would add to the experience, while another part of me wants the fans to be off the field so the Riders can have the stage all to themselves. Part of me also wonders what happens win or lose out on the streets. I think and hope Rider fans are mature enough to celebrate or sulk without creating damage and being stupid.

Enjoy the 101st Grey Cup!! Its a day you will never ever forget---especially if you are there.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Twas The Night Before GC 101

‘Twas the night before Grey Cup and at Taylor Field,
> Not a creature was stirring, the entrances sealed.
> The Riders were nestled and snug in their beds,
> And yes, visions of Grey Cup Rings danced in their heads.
> But Scarth Street downtown was abundant with clatter,
> The cold air, the late hour, did not seem to matter,
> The noise woke Kent Austin, who was up in a flash,
> To the Tiger-Stripe curtains, he made a mad dash.
> He heard Green is the Color and then Rider Pride,
> Then he growled at the crowd with his eyes open wide,
> He looked down at the fans with their face paint and toys,
> And he stood there on Grey Cup Eve, hating the noise.
> The scene ‘neath his window, to Kent was not pleasin’
> It’s quite hard to know why, no one quite knows the reason,
> Some think it goes back to that night at the Dome,
> When the Riders played banjos, so far from their home.
> Some think, perhaps, ‘twas an ’89 spin,
> When an Earl and a Champion came up short of the win,
> But whatever the reason, right now, or back then,
> He must stop the Riders from winning – again.
> “That’s it!,” Austin beamed with a Cheshire grin,
> “I know just how to keep those green guys from the win.”
> He got some green face paint, melon hat, and a beard,
> But with a Tiger-Cat jacket, the whole thing looked quite weird.
> He looked down on the crowd with his green and white eyes,
> “I need just one more thing to complete this disguise,”
> So he went straight downstairs to Victoria Park,
> And got an old #9 jersey from some guy named Mark.
> In his Roughrider costume he moved through the crowd,
> But his green melon hat made the noise much more loud,
> He saw many melons on heads that he knew,
> There was one on Dave Ridgway, on Glen Suitor, too.
> On Elgaard, on Fairholm, on Aldag, on Duke,
> There were so many melons, Kent thought he might puke,
> Milt and Matty were meloned and shaking their hips,
> While Shultz sat in a corner eating All-Dressler Chips.
> Austin ’s eye then was drawn to a big costumed Tabby,
> Right beside a big gopher who danced not too shabby,
> “The noise those fans make all begins with that rat,”
> “With his signs and his car, with a hole and all that.”
> Yes, Kent hated Gainer, the whole football season,
> Again, don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason,
> But Kent ’s plan was simple: no Gainer to love,
> No Gopher at gametime, no noise from above.
> Kent grabbed Gainer’s tie, began to lead him away,
> When a high-pitched voice shouted a shrill and loud, “HEY!”
> “What are you doing with Gainer, Mr. Guy?”
> “Why are you taking our Gopher Friend? – Why?”
> A small child wore a jersey with a big #5,
> Then she screamed, “You’re Kent Austin! – Dad saw you play live!”
> It was just a small child, no need to be slick,
> So Kent thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick.
> “Yes, well, I’m here to help Gainer. His tail is too light,”
> “It gets stuck on the left and won’t wag to the right.”
> “I’m taking him now to Mosaic, my dear.”
> “I’ll fix him up there and I’ll bring him back here.”
> “Well, I really love Gainer, but love you, Kent , the best!”
> Then Kent felt a strange feeling inside of his chest,
> A feeling he’d felt only two times before,
> But the difference this time was he felt even more.
> Kent let go of Gainer and straightened his tie,
> “It can wait til tomorrow, for tonight he’ll get by.”
> Then Gainer tapped Kent on the top of his head,
> Kent signed the girl’s jersey and said, “Time for bed.”
> Rider Pride’s not a thing you can pluck in the night,
> It flows though Rider Nation and gives it its might,
> And it flowed all through Riderville, into the streets,
> Which were full of green melons and green holy sheets.
> They flowed to Mosaic to cheer and to sing,
> And to watch Double D get his first Grey Cup Ring.
> That Jolly Green Crowd flowed down Albert with ease,
> And Kent sat with Jon Cornish alone at Humpty’s.
> They say that from space you could see a Green Glow,
> And they say, Rider Pride, 3 more sizes did grow,
> In the morning, the Riders ate Dario’s and Cakes,
> The Cats? 83 boxes of stale Fantuz Flakes.

Great Riders Column

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cohon Impresses CFL Fans


CFL Commissioner Marc Cohon was a busy boy on Friday. In the morning, he gave the annual state of the league address. You can see what was in that and hear it by clicking right here.

A short time after that, Cohon had his state of the league for the fans event. Its something he started five years ago and as someone who went to this for the first time, it is just another example as to why the Commissioner (or the Commish as he asked TSN's Dave Randorf  to call him) is perhaps the coolest commish in all of sports.

Cohon basically repeated what he had told the media earlier, but in a much more relaxed fashion. He then polled the audience on a number of different issues--some serious, some not so much. Amongst the questions

1) Most in the audience were men 35-49
2) Their favourite CFL on TSN personality was Sara Orlesky--much to the chagrin of Randorf
3) The convert remains as is
4) The rouge should remain after a missed field goal or a punt, but the ball should be scrimmaged at the 10 instead of the 35 as it is now.
5) Teams should be penalized more for kicking the ball out of bounds
6) Halftime shows need better entertainment

After the hour plus session, Cohon was more than happy to sign autographs, get his picture taken and talk to yours truly.

As I asked him off the top, I just can't see Gary Bettman doing this type of thing. Can you?

Do Eskimos Have Their Man?

By Arash Madani /CKRM Sportscage Insider
REGINA -- The Edmonton Eskimos have found their next head coach.
Sources confirmed to that Argos defensive coordinator Chris Jones has been offered the top job in Edmonton. Jones, who has three Grey Cup championships on his resume as a defensive assistant, has been seeking a head coaching job in the CFL for a number of years.
The news was first reported by Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun.
Jones was on a short candidate list in Edmonton, which included former Winnipeg head coach Paul LaPolice, one-time Saskatchewan coach Danny Barrett and Calgary defensive coordinator Rick Campbell, whom many believed was the front runner for the position.

Jones has been an assistant coach in the CFL since 2002, when, under Don Matthews with the Alouettes, he began writing his championship resume. He has won a title in each of his three stops (Montreal, Calgary, Toronto) and his understudy, Corey Chamblin, is coaching Saskatchewan in Sunday's Grey Cup.
Chamblin credited Jones for helping him break into the CFL, with Winnipeg in 2007 as an assistant. Chamblin worked for Jones on the Stampeders' defensive staff, which won the Grey Cup in 2008.
In addition to his defensive coordinator duties, Jones had the assistant head coach title added to his portfolio in Calgary. When he came to Toronto in 2011, he also became the Argonauts assistant general manager.
Jones had long sought out a CFL head coaching job, but since joining Scott Milanovich's staff in Toronto, he made it clear it was not as much of a priority. He gets his opportunity under Ed Hervey, who fired Kavis Reed at the end of Edmonton's season.

The Eskimos failed to make the playoffs in 2013. Jones has made the playoffs in every season coaching in the CFL.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This And That

There it is! In less than 72 hours, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders will play to get their mitts on that trophy and like many of you I can't wait. It would not bother me one bit if they were playing this game this afternoon instead of Sunday. I am ready!!! I may be a basket case on Sunday (did I say may), but I think I am ready to soak in everything that will happen Sunday night and hopefully those things that are soaking in are nothing but good thoughts as the Riders will have beaten the Tabbies. 

I like to people-watch and it will be interesting to see how the crowd is as they walk in and throughout the game. This is technically not a home game for the Riders so they won't have "BRING EM OUT BRING EM OUT" as they come out from under the helmet if they even do come out from the under the helmet. They want the crowd to yell it as the players are introduced. Will they? How nervous will they be? I know they will be chanting HENNNNNNNNNN-RYYYYYYYYY when the Ti-Cats touch the ball but can they do it for four quarters or will Burris silence them. Will some fans count the players on the field when Luca Congi comes out for a field goal? When its over, what happens? Does Kent, Hank and Andy ruin what has been a great party so far or does that party continue for a few days. 

If the Riders win, will fans storm the field? Part of me wants to see that happen so they can enjoy it with their football heroes and another part of me wants them to stay out of the celebration so that the players have the stage to themselves. How crazy will it get downtown? It is so compelling and its just about here. 

The WOLF's Chad McDonald has summed it up rather nicely with this little bit....

If that doesn't get you ready, what does!!!!

I will play a very minute bit in 620 CKRM's game day coverage, but I am honored to have a spot in the broadcast booth besides Rod, Carm and the rest of the gang on Sunday. I will do my usual pre-game bit with Rod, the pre-game interview with Coach Chamblin  and then co-host the halftime show with Phil Andrews. During that halftime show, you will hear an interview with the man who kicked the Riders to a victory the last time they played the Tiger-Cats in the Grey Cup as I spoke with my good friend Dave Ridgway this week. As you may or may not know, Dave had a radio show on CJME when I was there and I operated and co-hosted that show with him. We became very close at that time and we have continued to keep in contact with one another over the years. I was hoping he would make his way here for GC 101, but he was more than gracious to give me some time to talk about 89 along with this current matchup as he still follows the CFL from his home in the US Midwest.  Speaking of the 89 Cup, did you know that game had 8 players in it who are now CFL hall of famers. Can you name the 8???

There's yours truly with a pair of characters. It was great having Luc Mullinder and Lance Frazier on our team this year as the insight they brought was tremendous. Losing Lance at the end was a tough one, but when the guy has an opportunity closer to family in the U-S, how can you be disappointed. Its good to see Lance back doing his Riderville duties and I, and many others, wish him nothing but the best as he moves onto the next chapter of his life. 

Wouldn't it have been a lot easier had the banners of Kent Austin and Roger Aldag come down for a week with a Ti-Cats banner and a Rider banner or a banner of Burris on one side and Durant on the other. I'd have had no problem with that. 

I believe it would have been humourous for Mayor Michael Fougere to rename Hamilton Street to Roughrider Street this week. I sent him a tweet on this idea, he failed to get back to me.

Did anyone notice it was former Pat Frank Kovacs bringng in the Grey Cup during the opening ceremonies. I did,

Some have asked me how I've enjoyed Grey Cup week and to tell you the truth, I haven't been able to enjoy it the way I would like to. When you've got that little 9-5 job sitting on the desk, it is tough to get out and take in everything. I did attend the coaches news conference and I was highly impressed with the way Riders coach Corey Chamblin stood in there. If his team is as cool and relaxed as he was on Wednesday morning in his first ever coaches newser, this team will be ready on Sunday. I heard his demeanour hadn't changed any at the Riders team lunch. I don't expect it to change before kickoff at all. 

I don't know why, but there is just something about this picture that I absolutely love. What is Darian thinking as he looks at that trophy. We all know he should have had his hands on it in 2009 and one can only wonder how much differently he would be treated by Rider fans if he had gotten his hands on that thing back then. People do forget he won the game for us only to have it cruelly yanked away because of the ultimate mistake. That trophy is something Durant craves, needs and desires. He has had a look in his eye the past two weeks. I just don't see how he is denied this time. 

Congrats to Brendon Labatte, congrats to Brett Jones, congrats to the University of Regina Rams and congrats to Weyburn minor football and the city itself. I have just one question for the fine people of Weyburn and that question is who is your male athlete of the year. Is it Labatte, Jones or Graham DeLaet. That's not an easy decision to make. 

Someone in Weyburn needs to help me. Speaking to reporters after, Labatte said he thinks 3 players in the CFL have come from Weyburn. There is himself, Jones and who else? I have no idea.

Could the Riders have another North Dakota receiver on their hands. Rumour is the team has put Greg Harden on their neg list. Harden is said to be a slightly taller version of Weston Dressler and has broken some of Dress' records at UND. I'll have to ask Brendan Taman if the news I've received is correct. I'm thinkin it is!

There is some anger in the community over the fact the Pasqua Hospital is closing its emergency room for three months at night starting next Thursday. I understand the anger and I understand the frustration. What I don't understand is why it was the Plains Health Center was closed. Regina is a growing city and we need more hospitals and not less. Whose bright idea was it to shut down that facility? I really believe a lot of the healthcare problems in Regina could be alleviated if a 3rd hospital was around. We used to have it!! We need one with the way the city is growing. 

I will never understand how it is that someone must roar in front of you and in some cases cut you off just to get off at the next exit or turn at the next left or right. Is it that important? I guess it must be when you could just trail in behind and do what you have to do without worrying about the person in front of you. 

How many degenerates out there have purchased every team's cheerleader calendar. Actually, I might know a couple who have or will do that before the weekend is over. No, sadly I don't work with who I am thinking of. 

For the record, I have no problem with the CFL season starting when it does and ending when it does.

BREAK UP THE OILERS----they've won three in a row!!! Is Armageddon upon us?

I complain vociferously about CFL officiating, but I do shake my head at some of the calls in the NFL as well. How New England did not get one more play from the one yard line Monday night is beyond me. If that wasn't interference on Rob Gronkowski, what is?  

Can I ask the football gods once they have taken their attention away from the Grey Cup to please not forecast rain in Seattle for the Monday niter against the Saints. I don't want to get wet while watching that game. 

Week 12 NFL Lock Of The Week ---Baltimore over Jets 
Week 12 NFL Upset Of The Week ---Patriots over Broncos 

The 8 players in the 89 Grey Cup game who are now Hall of Famers were from the Riders---Elgaard, Jurasin, Aldag, Narcisse. The Hamilton players were Rocky Dipietro, Grover Covington, Miles Gorrell and Earl Winfield.

Grey Cup Fact # 5 --This will be the 7th time these two teams have met in the Grey Cup, The Ti-Cats hold a 5-1 lead.

Riders 33 Ti-Cats 24!!!!


How does the CFL let this happen to them?? That's one or two levels beyond embarrassing. 

Win or lose, take pride in your city. Have fun, but don't do anything stupid that will paint you or this place in an embarrassing light. We are not Vancouver and we are not Montreal!!


GC Tidbits From TSN

5.4 million – Average number of viewers who watched the 100th GREY CUP on TSN last year – the most-watched CFL championship ever recorded on Canadian English-language television
33,528 – Metres of cable (camera, audio, and video) needed for TSN’s broadcast of the 101st GREY CUP (equal to 333 CFL football fields)
2,656 – Number of kilometres traveled by the CFL ON TSN panel desk on its journey from TSN’s Toronto studio to Mosaic Stadium in Regina
FACT: TSN’s producer and director team of Jon Hynes and Paul Hemming have worked together to broadcast thousands of marquee sporting events. In addition to numerous Grey Cups, they both worked on the men’s hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
1,500 – Estimated number of split-second decisions that will be made by TSN’s production team during the 101st GREY CUP broadcast
1,117 – Total combined height in centimetres of the CFL on TSN panel
250 – Estimated number of watermelon helmets TSN will show on air during its two-day Grey Cup coverage
FACT: TSN’s Brian Williams has interviewed a total of 10 different CFL commissioners on Grey Cup Sundays.
195 – Total number of TSN staff (technical, production, support and on-air) working Grey Cup weekend
155 – Number of microphones used by TSN on GREY CUP SUNDAY
150 – Number of broadcast monitors in one TSN broadcast truck
55 – Number of Darren Dutchyshen’s “extended” family from Porcupine Plain, Sask. joining him at the game
FACT: TSN uses two different production crews for the 101st GREY CUP: one for the game and one for the pre-game show and SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show
37 – Number of cameras TSN will use during TSN’s broadcast of the 101st GREY CUP including a helicopter cam to capture aerial views of the city
21 – Number of JUNO nominations garnered by multi-platinum pop group Hedley, who will perform at the SiriusXM Grey Cup Half-Time Show at the 101st GREY CUP
15 – Number of Grey Cup games called by TSN’s Chris Cuthbert. He is joined by CFL ON TSN analyst Glen Suitor in the broadcast booth for the 101st GREY CUP.
FACT: Hedley singer Jacob Hoggard finished in third place on the second season of CTV’s Canadian Idol
1 – Ranking of the 1989 Grey Cup (Riders vs. Ti-Cats) on the SPORTSCENTRE Top 10 list of the greatest CFL championship games of all time

Is This Taman's Time??

From Gary Lawless-Winnipeg Free Press

Brendan Taman isn't one to talk about his drinking. When he does have a few, which is not that often, he does it quietly. But there he was Sunday texting a reporter to say he was having a beer.
"On the plane having a beer. Getting ready to take off back to Regina," read the first text from the Saskatchewan Roughriders GM. When queried about the beverage, Taman responded: "Beer when it's needed. Tonight it's needed."

Forgive Taman for his tippling. The weight of an entire province has been on his back since the moment in 2011 when the Riders were granted the right to host the 2013 Grey Cup.
Economically and emotionally, Taman has had the fate of his home province in his hands for some time. With his club's West final thrashing of the Calgary Stampeders last weekend, Taman concluded a big part of his job.
"King Kong's been on my back for a while now," said Taman, who will watch his team fight the East Division-champion Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday for the Grey Cup. "Half of his body weight slipped off on Sunday. Now it's time to get rid of the rest of him.
"Externally, we said it was a normal year but internally there was an expectation level that was pretty high. It wasn't just within the football organization. It was the whole community and the whole province. I internalized a lot of it but I felt it. No doubt about it.
"Every year you want to win but when it's in your backyard and there are expectations that you'll be in it, the pressure is the most I've felt in my career."
Taman says the organization has been building for this moment for some time but it really got off the ground when he hired head coach Corey Chamblin prior to the 2012 season.
"We're not here without Corey," said Taman. "He needs a good staff and the players but it starts with him. He's a big reason we're here. The first time I got to hire a head coach, I hired Doug Berry in Winnipeg in 2007 and two years later we were in the Grey Cup. This time I hired Corey and it's two years and we're in the Grey Cup. He's a real good coach."
The same off-season Taman hired Chamblin, he signed CFL veterans Dominic Picard, Brendon LaBatte and Jock Sanders while adding prospects such as Kory Sheets, Xavier Fulton, Terrell Maze and Drew Willy.
The 2013 off-season saw Taman and Chamblin hire offensive co-ordinator George Cortez after he was dumped by Hamilton as well as trade for veteran receiver Geroy Simon and sign free agent defensive lineman Ricky Foley.
The Riders have gone all in and Taman has loved the challenge.
"You learn as you go. You learn about the hierarchy in this business and whether you have the say or don't have the say. Can you do this or that or do you have to check with the higher ups," explained Taman. "In this situation here, it's been pretty clear that I have the mandate of, 'We need to win and you need to be in charge and you need to do whatever you need to do to make it work.' I have the autonomy here and the challenge is clear. It's a good situation."
Taman isn't a hermit but football is certainly the focus of his life. The 46-year-old bachelor has never married and, in fact, when he started dating a Bombers cheerleading coach during his time in Winnipeg, members of the media were caught off guard.
Taman is social and likes to kibitz. His visits to the media bunker at Canad Inns Stadium were often long and filled with laughter.
He's a football nerd who was born in Saskatoon and took a job with the Riders in 1987 as an assistant in the personnel department. It's been a 26-year climb to the pinnacle of his business, including five trips and five losses in the Grey Cup.
Taman readily admits he needs to make some changes to his life but that can wait until after Sunday.
"My life is football. It's all football and this year has been worse than ever. I have not done much," he said. "I want to change that. I need to change that. Yup. But I'm not going to change until we win. The personal will take care of itself when it takes care of itself. But this has taken a lot of my life to do. That's OK. It's what I chose to do."
Taman said a loss Sunday won't cripple him and if it happens, it's something he'll have to work through. But he wants to win. Don't doubt that.
"I wanted to win in Winnipeg," he said. "I was there a long time and I liked it there. I'm not just saying that because you write for Winnipeg. It's true," said Taman, who worked for the Bombers for 10 years in different roles including holding the GM post for five seasons. "I'm from here. It's a tough place to be as you know. It would be pretty cool to be a Saskatchewan guy and do it. No doubt. The ring is the ring and it's what you want and winning it anywhere would be good. I've been five times and twice had a big hand in things. Saying all that, with the way my career has gone and ending up back here, yeah, winning here would be very special."
Taman has long been the tag-along kid in the circle of GMs. Not flashy in front of the camera, not a former player, smallish and bespectacled with the fashion sense of a troll, Taman has had to fight to earn the respect of his peers and fans. He says the job's not done.
"To win would be validation. Look, I know I'm good at what I do. I'm not saying that to be cocky. But we do this to win. And winning says you're good," said Taman. "This is the chance to say I'm good."

Week 12 NFL Capsules

The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints get the NFL week started. For a look at all the games, click here

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coaches Newser

Kent Austin and Corey Chamblin were under the gun Wednesday morning at the coaches news conference. Here is how it sounded.. 

Grey Cup Fact 4 --- The Hamilton Tiger-Cats led the CFL in sacks allowed with 65. The Riders were 3rd in sacks at 57.

The Riders Are Canada's Team

By Terry Jones--Edmonton Sun

This does it. This clinches it.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are now -- undeniably, unquestionably and unequivocally -- the new flagship franchise of the Canadian Football League.

A miracle franchise through most of its history, which has included more tough times than not and with fewer Grey Cups (three) to celebrate than any other team, Saskatchewan has been tracking toward this for some time.

But this does it. This puts it over the top.

Back in 2003 when they last held the Grey Cup here, it was the Evil Empire, as the Edmonton Eskimos were known, coming to collect their first of two Grey Cups in a run of three appearances in four years. The second one, in 2005, was the last of Edmonton's North American pro sports record of 34 consecutive years in the playoffs.

That was the turning point.

The winning stopped in Edmonton, but until this year, the former flagship franchise in the late, great City of Champions still managed to annually outdraw every team in the CFL.

That changed this year.

At the same time Edmonton fans were abandoning ship, the Roughriders set a CFL record not known to many -- including their own fans -- but one that my never be broken.

They figured in each of the top 14 attendance figures in the league this season (see accompanying chart).

The Riders started the year with the announcement that old Taylor Field, now Mosaic Stadium, will be replaced with a new sunken-bowl stadium. It will seat 33,000 at a projected cost of $278 million and built to support the construction of a retractable roof for the future, which will be in place for the 2017 season.

Over the past decade, thanks to natural resources such as potash and uranium, Saskatchewan has quietly gone from a poor province to a rich one.

"When we started winning in 2007, it was at a time the province was taking off, people were moving back to live in the province and buying season tickets," said Jim Hopson, the Riders' president and CEO. "A new stadium was never more than a dream before then. But it seems like all things are possible now."

Hopson moved into the job in 2005. But he was a Regina Ram junior player before becoming a Rider in the early '70s through to the 1976 Grey Cup loss. After his playing days, he was a member of the business community. So he's been through the good times and the bad.

"This team had a great run in the '60s with Ron Lancaster and George Reed in Grey Cups and had great fan support. But we went through some pretty bad times in the '80s and really struggled again in the late '90s when we needed telethons, exchanged tickets for wheat, and there was great concern the franchise would even survive."

Hopson said it's been the flight of the Phoenix since then.

"What's happened with us began with a real change in the culture organization. It starts with the board," he said of the directors of the community-owned franchise.

"We had to change the model. We had to change the culture. The culture was that of an organization that expected to struggle. We were a small franchise. We were the smallest city in North America with a professional football team. We're smaller than Green Bay. We like to compare ourselves to Green Bay.

"There was always the belief players didn't want to come here, that coaches didn't want to come here. I didn't believe that. I saw it in the '70s. We had the Ron Lancasters, George Reeds, Hughie Campbells, Ed McQuarters and Jack Abendschans. So I think that's where it started. Then getting the right people -- that's so critical."

Ironically, they tapped into Edmonton.

They adopted Edmonton's model in governance and the two boards would alternate in making visitations to the other city for games and consultations.

"Edmonton was always the benchmark," said Hopson.

"Having the Grey Cup here in 2003 really helped. It allowed us to pay off some of our debt. The provincial government forgave $2 million in loans in 2005."

For years, the biggest export here was people. They went forth and multiplied -- staying Saskatchewan fans for life and giving birth to little Rider Priders.

All of that explains the massive television numbers for Sunday's Western final, in which the entire Calgary crowd had departed the stadium while 10,000-plus green-clad Saskatchewan fans stayed to savour every single, solitary second. The TSN telecast produced an average audience of 1.9 million with a peak audience of 2.7 million.

"We're not only told that we've been in all those games with the top crowds in the league, but it's very similar with the top television numbers, too. Certainly, the top four or five," said Hopson.

And it's not just about attendance and viewers.

It's about sponsorship and merchandise.

For the past few years, the Roughriders have been able to say they sell as much merchandise as the rest of the league combined.

"We are now told that our sales actually exceed the rest of the league combined," Hopson said, indicating it's now by a healthy margin.

"It's been big driver of our economic engine.

"We annually average $7 million out of our four stores, one in Saskatoon, two in Regina and our team store at the stadium. We also have online sales. In 2010, our centennial year, we exceeded $10 million. This year, with the Grey Cup, it'll at least be in that range again."

There are NHL teams, including three of them in neighbouring provinces, envious of the Roughriders.

"We are only behind the Montreal Canadians and Toronto Maple Leafs," said Hopson.

For all of this, Hopson bestows credit to another ex-Rider: Steve Mazurak, who had contested the president and CEO job against him.

"We were old teammates together with the Rams and the Riders. Steve had a great background in sales. I knew his commitment to the Riders."

Part of Mazurak's job was sponsorships.

"We needed to change our view of sponsorships. We used to look at them mostly as ticket deals. We've gone from $1.5 million to over $5 million a year."

This year, the Roughriders led the league in season tickets with 28,000.

"We were the top team for the first time ever. Traditionally, it had been Edmonton."

It's on the field where, by getting to this Grey Cup, the Roughriders have also achieved flagship-franchise status.

For three years of four, they were in the Grey Cup, winning in 2007 and then losing back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 to the Montreal Alouettes, including the nightmare 13th-man fiasco in which a-too-many-men-on-the-field penalty turned an end-of-game missed field goal for the win into a successful do-over field goal for the loss.

But this proves they're the kind of stable franchise on the football side. They don't rebuild. They reload.

And that's why Hopson became so emotional after the win in Calgary when he confessed to your corespondent: "I cried like a baby at the end of the game."

Four Grey Cup appearances in the seven seasons with a reload in the middle makes the statement.

"We started in '07," he said. "It's been a pretty good run.

"It doesn't rival the great days of the Edmonton Eskimos yet, but it's pretty damn good, especially in a salary cap era where it's hard to build a team that stays good for a while."

Hopson wants Canada to know the job that Brendan Taman did as general manager to make this happen, together with Cory Chamblin coming on as head coach last year and putting all the pieces together.

"When we won the rights to play host to this Grey Cup, we were in a rebuild mode," said Hopson.

"Going into last year Brendan really felt we had to reload and restock. We made a lot of changes.

"With the job Brendan did in free agency going into this season, we felt we could contend and that this team was built to win."

Taman used free agency free agency the way it is supposed to work.

He used it to complete the final pieces of the puzzle after the Roughriders returned to the playoffs last year after a 5-13 season in 2011.

"This year was a culmination of what Brendan and Corey started last year. In 2012, the team got younger and faster, as was the goal. This year, they looked at putting the pieces in place."

Those pieces? Geroy Simon. Dwight Anderson. Ricky Foley. Weldon Brown. And John Chick and Rob Williams came back from the NFL.

"I know Brendan wasn't seen by all as maybe the best pick to be GM. But I've always had tremendous faith in him. And he did a masterful job -- Corey as well. They work together."

From top to bottom, working together is really the story here. A dysfunctional franchise this is not.



The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the top 14 draws in the CFL this past seasn:

1. Sept. 1: vs. Winnipeg 44,910

2. Aug 24: at Edmonton 41,868

3. Aug. 17: vs. Montreal 40,637

4. Sept. 22: vs. B.C. 39,373

5. July 21: vs. Hamilton 37,372

6. Oct. 4: at B.C. 37,312

7. Sept. 14: vs. Toronto 36,703

8. June 29: at Edmonton 35,869

9. Aug. 9: at Calgary 35,637

10. Oct. 12: vs. Edmonton 35,579

11. July 5: vs. Calgary 35,296

12. Oct. 19: vs. B.C. 34,956

13. Oct. 26: at Calgary 33,671

14. Sept. 8: at Winnipeg 33,500