Friday, December 21, 2018
This and That
--Welcome to Friday and the usual thoughts running through my muddled mind. As always, they are in no particular order.
--Holy crap, Christmas is here! Is it just me or has 2018 flown by? What a year it was in Regina. It was a year that had perhaps more high-profile sporting events in the city than what we have ever seen. The Grand Slam of Curling, the Memorial Cup, Skate Canada, the Brier and the USports Women's Basketball Championship all came to YQR. It was very cool on the weekend of the basketball and Brier to see Sportsnet and TSN both broadcasting live from Regina with both venues being packed. 2019 won't have the same volume of events, but it will be fun to be around.
--Rider Nation goes into Christmas singing a happy tune and why shouldn't they be. The team is working on its Canadian content by getting Zack Evans and Patrick Lavoie to sign contract extensions. In all my years covering the green-and-white, I don't know if there has been a more enjoyable scrum with a player than the one we had with Evans on Tuesday morning. He pulled up behind me in his truck as I got to the stadium Tuesday so I had a chance to talk to him before the actual grilling started and the smile on his face was ear-to-ear. He's a Saskatchewan boy enjoying success with Saskatchewan's team. Life is good for the former Thunder player. He is a key part of the puzzle moving forward.
Patrick Lavoie did not do anything spectacular when coming here from Montreal, but his presence on the field was noted. You don't have to make catches and score touchdowns to be noticed and Lavoie certainly was noticed. Compare him to a 4th line grinder that makes the most of his minutes and gets rewarded with a goal or assist every now and then.
I wondered what the Lavoie signing would mean when it came to Spencer Moore and we all found out on Wednesday as he was dealt to Montreal. He was an asset the Riders could use to build their squad and while frankly I think they could have gotten a lot more for him than what they did, he does have a chance to carry on with his football career in a place where he can do for the Alouettes what he did here. Moore was a great community guy and he will be missed.
--With the loss of Moore, the only Riders left still in green from the 2013 Grey Cup team are Evans, Dan Clark, Rob Bagg, Brendon Labatte and Sam Hurl. I'm not sure on this one, but I think Weston Dressler is the only player from that team still playing in the CFL today.
--The topic of "Who Will Be the Riders Starting QB in 2019" is still the hot-button topic and will be until an announcement is made. The names of Reilly, Glenn, Franklin, Streveler, Jennings and even Manziel are being thrown about. I threw it out there on the Sportscage Wednesday asking the question "What would it take to get Jeremiah Masoli out of Hamilton?". Yes, I think the odds of that happening are slim unlike me, but Eric Tillman has been known to trade his starting QB's---right Kerry Joseph? Right Ricky Ray? It's worth Chris Jones making a phone call isn't it?
--Why do some in Rider Nation want Manziel? Are you looking for a trainwreck? Would you rather see a trainwreck happen than take a shot at the Grey Cup which they are seemingly close to? Some of you are answering yes! I don't get it! Unless you are buying into the Rod Black narrative, Manziel is not the answer. I would cringe quite a bit if he were the guy. I'm not sold on Jonathan Jennings either. Yes, he needs a reset, but I say signing him means you are once again rolling the dice on your starting QB. If you are going to do that, see if Zach Collaros gets a clean bill of health,sign him to a 225,000 deal and let's go. No, I am not advocating a return of Collaros. That ship has sailed and frankly for his own sake, I hope the CFL has seen the last of Collaros. One can't help but notice there has not been a peep from the Collaros camp since he skulked out of town following the WSF loss to Winnipeg. There has been no mention from his camp about how he is feeling. I wouldn't take that as a good sign when there is a lot of quarterback talk out there.
--When you're a "me, me, me" person, don't be surprised if people want nothing to do with "you, you, you". Sadly, there are many out there who think they are wayyyyyyy more important than they actually are. I've run into wayyyyy too many of those people over the last few weeks. I don't get it!
--The World Juniors are here. Do you care? This tournament used to really get me revved up, but the past few years I have not had that feeling. The tournament starts for me when the playoffs come. Canada taking teams out to the woodshed in the preliminaries is not hockey I want to watch. I think I'd rather watch Finland-Sweden on opening night than Canada-Denmark. That being said, I will be tuned in for Canada-Russia on New Year's Eve and playoff games. This tournament is not a cake-walk anymore so there will be good hockey, but its a tournament that will take me a few days to get into.
--When does Saskatchewan throw its hat into the ring for the World Juniors to return? We've done it twice so when do we do it for a 3rd time?
--The Regina Pats are having a tough year and I think many of us expected that. Did we expect them to have just nine wins at the break. Truthfully, I thought they would have had a couple more. They would have had a couple more if it weren't for 3rd period meltdowns. Many are down on the team, but despite their 9-24-0-1 record, they are not getting blown out. The team has had some games where they have been on the short-end of a one-sided score but the losses have not been ugly in nature. Its a process that started right back at square one this year and that was to be expected. This year will be a year where the team doesn't make the playoffs and maybe next year is too, but the rebuild to get this team back into the playoff and fighting for a championship is underway. Get onboard!
--I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned with what was happening with Cougar Athletics. Having one ineligible athlete is bad enough, but two? What is going on here? As director of sport Lisa Robertson said Monday, this could have had disastrous consequences if it had not been caught when an audit was done following what happened to the Rams. The question I have is why is this even happening at all? I realize there are complexities and obstacles when it comes to student-athletes, but the fact there is no standardized system in Canada for this issue is not good. There is a lot of blame to go around on this one, but if USports would wake the h-e double hockey sticks up and see what is happening, they could look for a solution. Robertson says she has ideas as to how to correct this but she has to first go the conference table and then see what the appetite is at a national level before proceeding. Hopefully there is enough support to get change happening.
Someone asked the other day in the wake of this latest incident why they should tell their son or daughter to become a member of Cougar Athletics if they have the opportunity. I just laughed and pointed out the fact that almost a quarter of those representing the U of R in the 2017-18 academic year ended up being academic all-Canadians. There are some other universities in this fine land where a number of nearly 25 percent is a pipe-dream and there are some other universities that could care less about having an academic all-Canadian if it meant wins. While I think some things have to be done to eliminate these mistakes and that the removal of the men's volleyball and wrestling programs were handled terribly, I still think the U of R is a fine place to continue an athletic and academic career. Oh yeah, this comes from a guy who isn't an alumnus either so I'm not blowing the horn of the almamater.
--Congrats to former Rams RB Atlee Simon. He announced on Locker Talk this week that he has signed a contract with the Calgary Stampeders. I'm looking forward to see how he performs at the next level. There is a spot for him in that Calgary offense for him.
--Week 16 NFL Lock of The Week -- Titans over Redskins
--Week 16 NFL Upset of The Week -- While I would like it to be Seahawks over Chiefs, let's go with Raiders over Broncos in what could be the NFL's last game in Oakland.
--I am in three fantasy football leagues. The finals are this weekend and I am in one of them. In all three leagues, one of the teams in the final has Patrick Mahomes as QB. I do not have Mahomes so may the Seahawks do their best in trying to limit his points.
--That's all I got. Have a great weekend. If you have to go to the malls to finish Christmas shopping this weekend, I pray for you and make sure you stop at the cold beer store at the end of the day because chances are you will need at least one!