--What a day of football. NFL Championship Sunday was better than what we thought it could be with two overtime games in what was a drama-filled seven hours. In the end, we saw Tom Brady do what he has done so many times before, we saw an absolutely egregious non-call and arguably a game-changing call and we get boneheaded plays (thanks Dee Ford) and a horrible example of time management (thanks Sean Payton) with the never-ending NFL overtime format debate to cap it off.
Let's start with overtime. The NFL overtime format isn't perfect, but I would rather have it than the CFL one. If you lose the coin toss, it is up to your defence to keep the other team out of the endzone. A field goal is OK, but a touchdown isn't/ KC had numerous chances on 3rd and long to either have New England punt or kick a field goal. Yes, KC doesn't get a chance to touch the ball, but they would if the defence does its job which they didn't.
In the CFL, you start way too deep in the other team's end and can basically not move the ball and still line up for a 42 yard field goal. Start at your own 35 and we would have a much better debate.
How much of the overtime hate comes from the fact New England won? Would we be feeling that way had Kansas City won? Was the overtime hate there in the LA-Saints game?
--Sean Payton can moan and groan all he wants about a bad no pass interference call which it was, but in the end he has no one to blame but himself. After getting the ball on the LA 13 following a long completion to Ted Ginn, the Saints had the game in the bag. On first down, the Saints tried passing which was incomplete thus stopping the clock. Why? A run with Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara keeps the clock running. The same on the controversial 3rd down incompletion to Tommy Lee Lewis. Run the ball, make the Rams use their timeout and let the clock tick down. They took a grand total of 11 seconds on their three plays after the two minute warning thus allowing the Rams to have lots of time and a timeout to go back down and tie it. Moan and groan all you want about the NFL admitting to a mistake Sean, but you need to admit to your fan base that you made one too and it cost you the season.
--I wasn't surprised to see Jeremy O'Day get named as the new general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday. Craig Reynolds may have told him he wasn't the guy back in 2015 when he hired Chris Jones, but the Riders president/CEO couldn't say no this time around. O'Day didn't pick up his laptop and go elsewhere. He very well could have, but he wanted to stick around and learn from Jones. He had opportunities to go elsewhere, but he didn't. He knew this day would come and it has. I'm sure like every other GM in the history of this province, every move will be scrutinized, but he will do his best to keep the team on the plateau it is on and get it to the desired level. That may be easier said than done, but I am excited to see what he does with the football club.
--Reynolds indicated Friday during the press conference when asked if the football team had gotten the wool pulled over its eyes by Jones when this "out" clause was established in his contract extension that he already had it in. This doesn't surprise me. I would think all teams would allow their head coaches an out clause to another league or the NCAA. Why wouldn't they? The truth of the matter is no one cared if Jones had an out clause until talk first surfaced of it. Once that talk started, everyone had to know and when the extension was signed, that question was answered because everyone would want to know. There are some out there that think Jones knew exactly what he was doing and what the future held, and that he protected his staff by giving them time, but we'll never know the answer.
--While Marc Trestman and Paul Lapolice are the 1-2 candidates amongst Rider Nation to succeed Jones as head coach, one can't ignore Craig Dickenson. He is ready to become a CFL head coach. Hiring him would not upset the apple cart tremendously as he brings some stability.. Add that to the fact that this inane CFL coaches salary cap hamstrings the team somewhat means he would be a nice fit. It just asks the question as to who the defensive co-ordinator might be. Would they promote Jason Shivers to the position? I don't see why they wouldn't take a good thorough look to see if he is ready to take that responsibility. The Dickenson argument became stronger Sunday afternoon when we found out the Bombers aren't giving permission to the Riders to speak to Lapo in a decision that reportedly has him a little hot under the collar.
Its interesting to note that when Lapolice left the Riders in 2010 to become Winnipeg's head coach that the hiring was made on February 4. The Bombers can't say its too late, because it wasn't too late back in 2010 Verrrrrrry Winnipegish! I get the feeling this decision may be one that will cause ripples in the Bombers room. How can it not?
--I laugh at those who are so happy Jones is no longer here. I go back to day one when he said "I'm not here to win popularity contests, I am here to win championships.". That is a mantra every coach should have. Sorry, but this folksy mentality that we have here where we can walk up to the coach or the players in the Co-Op and have a conversation with them is over. The want to "live in the past" is something that has to go.
Jones didn't win any popularity contests, he didn't win championships either, but in his time here the football team showed tremendous growth and is a far better one than the one he inherited. That can't be argued! At the end of the day, I want success and not whether or not the guy comes off as arrogant or not what you want him to be. He was all business and didn't worry one bit about how he had to be perceived. He put in the work and when he felt the time was right to make a move he did. We will never know what the 2019 Riders would do under his watch, but one would have to believe it would have went well.
--I was asked Saturday if this team would have won the Grey Cup had Zach Collaros not been hurt. I don't know the answer to that question, but its a great one. I do believe they would have beaten the Bombers in the West semi. Could they have gone into Calgary and knocked off Bo Levi and the Stamps and followed that up with a win over Ottawa? I think they could have beaten the Stamps, but Ottawa seemed to have their number this year. I think the REDBLACKS might have won a close one.
--Who had the New York Islanders having as many points as the Maple Leafs at this point in the season. John who? Weren't the Islanders supposed to sink further into oblivion when John Tavares left for the Leafs. Barry Trotz has done a magnificent job with that team. You can talk Bill Peters in Calgary for the league's top coach right now, but my vote goes to Trotz. Wouldn't you love to somehow see an Islanders-Leafs playoff series.
--Stick a fork in the Oilers. They are done. How bad did they look against the Flames and Hurricanes on home ice this weekend. Fire Peter Chiarelli now and start looking for someone. Why wait? The all-star break would be a perfect time to say see ya!
--A great weekend for Cougars basketball as they went out to Kamloops with each team getting sweeps over Thompson Rivers. The men's team had a couple of huge performances including a huge comeback win Friday night. The final regular season weekend is Feb 1 and 2 against the U of S and then playoffs start. I'm excited to see how far this team can get in playoffs.
--That's all I got. Have a great week!