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Friday, November 9, 2012

FRIDAY RODSERVATIONS


Things are happening so fast and furious right now it's hard to keep up.  Here's the latest:


* The CFL could use Paris Hilton as its spokesperson right now because THAT'S HOT!  With the NHL lockout ongoing, CFL teams are top-of-mind in their markets.  Even in Toronto, I'm told the Argos are #1 (although the Raptors may have something to say about that).  The NHL's loss has certainly been the CFL's gain.  If they can hold off for just a few more weeks, we'll be good to go.

* The forecast for Sunday's CFL Western Semifinal between the Roughriders and Stampeders at Calgary's McMahon Stadium calls for sunshine and a high of minus-7 degrees.

* The Stamps are 5.5-point favourites.

* The week got off with a bang with the Roughriders announcing they planned to close their practices in advance of Sunday's WSF at Calgary.  Of course within 24 hours, the stance was reversed and reporters were allowed in once the league intervened.  One thing that should be noted is that Rider coach Corey Chamblin has been bend-over-backwards accomodating with the media all season long.  He refuses to start his post-practice media scrums until ALL reporters are ready and, if you can believe, if a TV station is represented by a new cameraman on any particular day, Chamblin is always quick to acknowledge him or her.  Many predicted Chamblin would be in a snarly mood once practice was opened up to the media, but that wasn't the case.

* I am surprised, and a little saddened, to see the hostility coming out of Calgary towards Saskatchewan this week.  It has to stem from the fact the Riders have a five-game playoff win streak against the Stampeders but back when the Stamps were on top in the 90's, I don't remember this type of venom going the other way.  When Doug Flutie, Jeff Garcia, Dave Dickenson, Kelvin Anderson, Marc Boerigter and Vince Danielsen were whipping the Riders' butts on a regular basis, we didn't hate them!  We respected the heck out of them.

* And even Corey Chamblin admitted that when he was on the Stampeders' coaching staff, he noticed crowds at McMahon Stadium were "50/50" between Rider and Stamps fans when the two rivals collided in the Foothills.  Not so according to Stamps play-by-play man Mark Stephen who said on the Sports Cage this week "That's a myth that's been far, far perpetrated.  I'd say it's about 20-25% Rider fans.  What Rider fans do do is make themselves very visible."

* Legendary Stampeders broadcaster Ken Newans piled on later in the show when he said "The Riders have a good young coaching staff but they're not ready for the big time.  Their anemic secondary will not be in the same ball park as the Stampeders receivers".

* As far as Dean Molberg of Fan 960 goes, he's been suspended for the balance of the CFL playoffs for his Wednesday comments on the Roughriders.  I didn't even know that until perusing the Calgary newspapers Friday morning.

* Most of us were shocked when Stamps coach/GM John Hufnagel tabbed Drew Tate as his starting quarterback on Tuesday for Sunday's playoff game.  Anybody who said they predicted that is full of beans.  However since sports imitate life I've compared it this way; Hufnagel brought Drew Tate to the dance, then danced all night with Kevin Glenn but in the end took Drew Tate home.  I'd say that's honourable.

* And anybody who thinks the Stampeders have an edge at quarterback in this game is full of beans too.  In this blogger's opinion anyways.  The proof will be in the pudding come Sunday.

* It's hard not to like John Hufnagel.  Rider great Bob Poley told me a story at his Regina Beach cottage this summer about Hufnagel.  John was at Poley's Grand Coulee house in the 80's when he found out he'd been traded from Saskatchewan to Winnipeg.  He had to go to Winnipeg immediately but he was so rattled that he drove the wrong way all the way down Highway #1 back to Regina!  You'd have to know the geography there, but that's quite a feat.

* Truth be told, this game makes me nervous.  The Stampeders have won six of the last seven meetings against the Riders and won four more games than Saskatchewan in the regular season.  The Riders truly are the underdogs.  Maybe that's a good omen.  When the Riders go into games which I fully expect them to win, they generally falter (see the 2010 Grey Cup).

* I texted Gainer the Gopher this week to see if he's going to Calgary to be on the sidelines for Sunday's game.  I got no response.  I suppose it's hard for a gopher to text.

* There may not be a Gibson's Finest CFL Reporter this year because I'm told Gibson's has pulled its sponsorship.  Hall of Fame writer Darrell Davis is tabulating the votes and this week at Gold's Gym, I bumped into Darrell and cast my vote for Sportsnet's Arash Madani.  "It's about time a TV guy won," I told Darrell before he informed me of the sponsorship situation.  He told me they're hoping to get Gibson's to purchase a trophy and have the honour still given out annually.

* Past winners of the CFL Finest CFL Reporter are: Bryan Hall (CHED Edmonton), Ed Tait (Winnipeg Free Press) and Lowell Ulrich (Vancouver Province).

* It was great to bump into the Vancouver Province's Ed Willes in Vancouver last weekend.  He told me that he's working on a book project during the NHL lockout and when I asked what it's about he replied "I'll tell you later!"   I get where he's coming from.

* There was plenty of coverage in the Vancouver newspapers about how local hockey fans are coping with the NHL work stoppage.  The Vancouver Sun reported attendance at WHL Vancouver Giants games is up 657 fans per game while UBC hockey games have experienced a bump of 500-800 fans per game.  However in Abbottsford, home of the AHL's Heat, attendance is still abysmal.  They drew about 1700 fans for a game last week against the Toronto Marlies.  They are averaging 3534 per game but expect sellouts this weekend when Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Schultz and the boys from the Oklahoma City Barons roll into town.

* Speaking of hockey, Mitch Lipon scored twice as the Regina Pat Canadians won 5-1 over the Notre Dame Hounds Thursday night in Wilcox.  With the victory the Pat C's improved to 8-2-2 and into a tie with Tisdale for first-place in the SMAAAHL.  Thanks to Doug Exner for the info.

* Here's a glimpse into how CFL year-end awards voting goes.  While in Vancouver, Lions colour commentator Giulio Caravatta was campaigning hard for Lions tailback Andrew Harris to win the Top Canadian award.  As it turns out, Calgary's Jon Cornish won the honour.  Perhaps I didn't campaign hard enough to other voters because the Roughriders were shutout of the division awards.

* CKRM Rider analyst John Lynch told me how excited he is to take Mrs. Frenzy to the movie ARGO.  I had to tell him the film is not about Pinball Clemons.

* We saw the movie Thursday night.  It is magnificent.

* One thing I noticed at BC Place Saturday night was that when the Riders were on offence in the first half, there was ear-splitting noise.  However when I studied the stands, not that many were making noise.  Hmm.

* I'm also no expert in CFL clock management but I found it odd that in the fourth quarter and the Lions were on offence, the clock ran straight time from 5:53 down to 3:00.

* Lions coach Mike Benevides informed the Leader Post's Murray McCormick that his Rider Rumblings blog is the only reporter's website which Benevides has bookmarked in his computer.  And therein you realize why the Riders wanted to close practice.  When I realized CFL coaches were scouring this blog for Rider practice info, I stopped reporting it.

* The NFL needs to do something about touchbacks.  Penalize them or something.  At CenturyLink Field on Sunday the 68,000-plus fans were whipped into a frothing crazy prior to kickoff and then BOOM!  The kickoff went through the endzone and it was like popping a balloon.  You hardly have to cover any kicks in the NFL.

* I also noticed the Seahawks' game notes were a paltry five pages.  Double-sided.   In the CFL we get a package big enough to choke a horse.

* One of the many things I learned from Eric Tillman is that people need your support more in a time of crisis than in a time of celebration.  For instance if you drop a line to someone who got hired as a coach or signed as a player, it's just as good an idea, or better, to send them a note when they get fired or cut.  Rarely do you receive a reply, but it has to help.

* Much has been made about office people leaving the Eskimos during Tillman's era but the ones I know didn't leave because of Tillman.

* Much has also been made that Tillman spent half of his time in Regina while running the Eskimos.  That's hogwash too.  It didn't matter to the Esks when Hugh Campbell was running the team from Idaho.

* The Eskimos have won 13 Grey Cups but none with a losing record, which they currently sport.  Also no time has ever won a Grey Cup while crossing over into the other division.  That doesn't mean it won't happen however.

* It would be a heckuva story if Rams quarterback Marc Mueller serves as a 3rd or 4th-string quarterback in the CFL next year with an eye towards becoming an offensive coach.

* Mueller and the Rams take on the U of C Dinos in the Hardy Cup Saturday at McMahon Stadium.  Kickoff is at 3:00 pm and 620 CKRM has the broadcast.

* I bet guys who sport moustaches year-round really hate Movember.  You will notice I am not growing one however I will contribute to the guys I always do during this time of year.

* It will be a great day when Canadian airplanes have ports to charge cell phones and Ipods.

* Here's the Friday Press Box Sports Bar lunch buffet lineup from Chef Laura:
Glazed Ham
Sausage and Sauerkraut
Boneless Wings
Beef Stroganoff
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Vegetables
Garlic Bread
Pizzas
Desserts

THAT'S ALL! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 5:00 FOR FOUR SEASONS FOOTBALL FRIDAY!
RP

23 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I've always wondered where Rider fans get there sence of entitlement from? why aren't our improvements vs. Last year enough for some people? Why does it have to be grey cup or reevaluate everything. People rarely remember that the Lions were aweful for a good stretch and through patience have built a winner.

I think it's the way they report financial success. People get disillusioned that because they buy merch and contribute that the team owes them more than entertainment and competitiveness.

Meh, ramblings while layed over at the airport.... Rip it to shreds.

DR

Don Mitchell said...

Great blog entry as usual Rod. Have a good feeling about the Riders and Rams this weekend.
As for charging your phone, Air Canada has usb ports on the head rests. I can't recall if West Jet has them.

Anonymous said...

Rod, re-watch the BC game. There were no incomplete passes, no plays went out of bounds. That's why it could run the way it did. Happens a lot in the NFL.

Chilli said...

Rod, when will the league step in and put a stop to the piped in crowd noise? It's pathetic that some stadium announcers have to encite a crowd to cheer, but enough is enough! Home field advantage should be created by the fans in the stands.

Dean said...

I'm with chilli. I've been to games in BC place. It's big time BS!!

You look around and fans are sitting on their hands but it super loud.

I really don't know why they should get away with it.

As for clock management I think the roughrider clock keeper needs to get better at it.

Can we ever stop the clock with .3 seconds left like Edmonton did? No, never happens here. Our guy just let's the clock run out.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with the last poster. I have no problem with them putting the word NOISE on the jumbotron but announcers trying to fire up the crowd is just ridiculous.

I believe that the punishment that the Calgary radio guy received was fair. I know that people do get fired up when they are passionate about a topic and sometimes say the wrong thing but you have to know when to draw the line, especially on the air. Those comments he made were disgusting and have no place. He admitted this and sounds sincerely remorseful but actions like that cannot go unpunished. And if the announcer is truely sorry, he will accept the punishment as handed out. End of story. He should also kick in a contribution to a Saskatchewan charity if he really wants to extend an olive branch.

Finally, with the CFL reporter award being handed out, if the fans get a vote count one for Mr. Pedersen! Rod I'm sure you'll get it one day, you deserve it.



Rex

Anonymous said...

This season has been only "marginally" better than last year contrary to what anyone says. Newans is right about the fact the Riders have a poor secondary. People have been saying that all season. The Riders didn't listen. No team that isn't .500 should be in the playoffs. Yet the odd one has even been to the big game. Usually is a team that was trending upward.

The BC Lions have hosted the Western Final 6 out of the last 9 years. I hardly think they have been down much. They have a great GM, franchise and history of winning big.

Thie Riders are a team that lost 4 in a row to end the season. They thoroughly backed into the playoffs. They are weak at nearly every position. The result will be a loss and is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Rod can't win the Reporter of the Year award. He's not a reporter. And that's not a knock, as Rod has often said the same thing.

He is, however, a darn good broadcaster. And yes, there is a difference.

DST

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the blog! My daily dose of updates. I appreciate the work that goes into it and this one loves it!

I think the Riders will actually get 'er done on Sunday! I truly do. I don't think it wishful thinking either. If you look at the Calgary/Sask games of this year they were ALL close and ALL within reach - lack of consistency, or whatever it rightly was, is something that I believe this team would have learned from and corrected. I agree with the Coach's comment that this is a 0-0 season right now. Playoffs are a whole new bag of chips and it's up for grabs. I believe the naming of Tate as the 'starter' (whether it for shock purposes or this is Calgarys actual 'call') will not hurt the Riders as much as it'll hurt the Stamps. Glenn's been down this road before - the Rider/Bomber GC that Glenn took those Bombers to the show and couldn't play (due to injury). This has got to be deja vu for him and can't be mentally easy to deal with for him. Either way I think this 'call' will blow up hard for Calgary. I too choose DD in this situation - HANDS DOWN.

As for Mr. Molberg and his comments..I feel the punishment doesn't fit the crime and it's actually kind of sad. IN this day and age :( Should he have said it? No. Should he have more control over his emotions and what comes out of his mouth compared to some fan commenting on a blog such as this? Sure. Bottom line is we all (said EVERY HUMAN EVER) have said something in the heat of the moment where regret instantly followed. He apologized and should have been allowed to move on.

Bottom line GO RIDERS :) I'm cheering hard and sporting my colors 'cuz this year has been BETTER (however you break it down it HAS BEEN BETTER) when compared to last year!

anon-ette

Anonymous said...

That's true DST. Perhaps I'm biased.

Looks like FAN 960 beat me to the punch and are indeed making a contribution to the charity of the Riders' choice. Glad to see they are doing their best to show some goodwill after this mess.


Rex

Gainer is my Hero said...

Everyone seems to be focusing on stopping Cornish, which I have to guess is playing right into Calgary's plans.

Why would they not hope for Cornish to be stuffed on first down?

think about what happens next....a 2nd and long situation.

Against our defence that is a high percentage opportunity to have a wide open Nic Lewis completion for a fresh set of downs/or touchdown.

I like our odds better if we let Cornish run!!!

Anonymous said...

"Inevitable." When is anything ever inevitable in sports? Upsets never happen? The Riders didn't upset their way through the playoffs to the '07 Grey Cup? As has been mentioned on the Sportscage, check out the receivers on that team and our QB who had never done anything in the playoffs. And our coach that was a rookie HC.

Upsets happen. That's why, despite the fact that BC has hosted so many Western Finals in recent years, they've only won one championship. Have some faith and show some Rider pride. Jeez, it feels like I wrote the exact same post after the preseason.

willy said...

Nice to see that Mollberg thing is moving on. Now all 960 has to do is move him off of their station.

Anonymous said...

People have got to stop bashing Riders D. Check the stats, #2 D in the league. Mckenzie is a beast of a DB, run stop of Lobendahn has been amazing. James Patrick is starting to turn it on now. Willis and Hawkins will be fired up!
Our D will be Nice! don't worry!

Joe from Indian Head

Anonymous said...

When do the Riders leave for Calgary?

Anonymous said...

Nice entry, but you're full of beans Rod;)

I know you'd never admit \it if you believed the same, but when Tate is healthy and on his game I'd take him over DD. And Huf made the right call after how good Tate looked last game.

Rider D had a decent start, but have been porous and disinterested in the last 3rd of the season. Patrick needs to retire and it looks like some on this team are ready for this season to be over.

Agreed on the timekeepers! BC has been notorious for this as far as I can remember. The 0.3 sec left for the Edmonton game was BS.

Agreed on the NFL kicking game being a joke - what's the point? There's maybe 3 or 4 actual kick returns / game due to fair catches and touchbacks.

Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself Pedersen...we hated the Stamps as much in the 90's as we do now.

Anonymous said...

Rod, they moved the Kickoffs in the NFL up 5 yards to negate Kickoff Returns. The thought was that too many guys were getting concussed as wedge breakers, etc. It is a good move that is going to decrease head injuries.

Anonymous said...

To anon above:

I'd argue that Tate's 'shine' hasn't worn off. He hasn't given you a reason to dislike him because he hasn't done much of anything. The only big game he's played in was the playoff game last year and that didn't go too well for him. That said, that's about his only negative so far. Good or bad he just hasn't had enough games to prove himself. We'll see how he performs this weekend.

DD's got the experience and I would love to see that guy lift the Grey Cup after leading the Riders to victory as much as I wanted to see Geno raise it in '07.

Go Riders!

Anonymous said...

Joe from Indianhead; Can you explain the logic when this wonderful defence always backs up when they have a second and long situation. The other seven teams always blitz and get aggressive while we passively back up far enough to assure another set of downs. Another deal is that at one point this year we had one interception in six games. Real exciting ,eh.

Anonymous said...

When you passively back up far enough, you back Into the playoffs, lol, The other seven teams have at least one player nominated for CFL awards. Saskatchewan Roughriders, zero, that In Its self tells a story.

Anonymous said...

Moving the kickoff up 5 yards this season has effectively taken the return out of the NFL game. The reason they keep the kickoff in us to keep the short kick and recovery in the game.