Regina, Saskatchewan is going to be the nerve centre of the Canadian Football League this week for the league's annual winter congress to be held at the Delta Hotel beginning Tuesday.
Regina was chosen as host because the league's winter meetings are always held in the Grey Cup host city and we have the game this November.
Staff from league headquarters will be here along with most of the front office staff from each of the league's eight member teams. The new Ottawa CFL franchise will likely have representation as well, although team co-owner Jeff Hunt informed me last week he will be unable to attend after originally planning to be here.
For the first time in recent memory there will be NO football operations staff on hand for the proceedings. That's because team GMs and coaches will gather the day before the annual Evaluation Camp in Toronto this spring to go over rule change proposals and the like. Normally that would be dealt with at the congress.
There will be a welcome reception at the Delta Tuesday evening and on Wednesday teams will get down to business. The first item on the agenda is a breakfast with CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon at which I'll be hosting a Q & A segment with Cohon.
Meetings are planned for the rest of the day and then Wednesday evening there will be a fan event at the Press Box Sports Bar which all eight teams will attend. Mark Cohon will be on hand with the Grey Cup and there will be photo opportunities for fans.
Meetings continue Thursday morning and the annual Coach of the Year luncheon will be held over the lunch hour that day. All three finalists will be present (Mike Benevides, John Hufnagel and Scott Milanovich). Further meetings are planned for Thursday afternoon and then there will be a social that night where the delegates will hit the ice at a local curling club to throw some rocks in a fun bonspiel.
620 CKRM's Sports Cage will be front-and-centre all week long as we plan to broadcast the show live from the Delta on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5-7 pm.
It's going to be a fun week!
All the cloak and dagger intrigue in the CFL this off-season has been fascinating! Both the Montreal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders were chastised for waiting so long to announce their coaching staffs but they went about it in a very similar fashion.
For instance, the Alouettes didn't announce new head coach Dan Hawkins and his staff until last Tuesday however the entire crew was holed up at a Montreal airport hotel for almost a week beforehand. They were putting in 14 hour days in meetings while GM Jim Popp got all the contract details sorted out. The same thing went on with the Roughriders.
How do I know this? Well Thursday evening I got a call from new Alouettes Offensive Quality Control coach Ryan Dinwiddie, a former Blue Bomber and Roughrider quarterback, who had just moved into a downtown Montreal hotel and had five minutes to spare between video sessions. Here's the transcript of our discussion:
RP: TUESDAY MUST HAVE BEEN A REAL PROUD DAY?
DINWIDDIE: Definitely just as proud as any time you're playing football. Obviously I wanted to play as long as I could but coaching was my ultimate goal. I knew coaching was gonna be my career for the rest of my life. Just to get my foot in the door, especially in the CFL, and working with a great staff and with my old college coach. I couldn't ask for more.
RP: OBVIOUSLY YOU WERE SWORN TO SECRECY REGARDING YOUR HIRING?
DINWIDDIE: It was tough. Obviously when I found out I wanted to tell everyone and my parents and grandparents knew but I said 'Hey, you can't tell anyone' because if that gets out on Facebook or Twitter, it can spread. It was really hard for them not to say anything for sure but they did a good job because it didn't get out.
RP: HOW DID YOUR HIRING COME ABOUT?
DINWIDDIE: It's funny because last year when Marc Trestman interviewed with the Colts, I'd just gotten back in the States from Regina and Hawkins called me out of the blue and said 'Hey I need to learn the CFL because I may interview in Montreal if Trestman leaves'. So, me and him went up to Boise State and spent eight hours on the chalkboard with me showing him everything. He got real excited about it and then the same thing happened this year; he called me out of the blue and when Trestman went through the Chicago deal and it just worked out.
RP: EXPLAIN YOUR CONNECTION TO HAWKINS...
DINWIDDIE: We got along real well and he actually recruited me out of Elk Grove for Boise State because he was the Recruiting Coordinator before he was the coach. Being a northern California guy, he coached with my high school coach, so our ties go back a long ways.
RP: HOW ABOUT BEING REUNITED WITH DOUG BERRY?
DINWIDDIE: That's funny because I didn't even know Doug was on the staff until we got up here. Jim (Popp) wanted to have some guys with CFL experience and they brought Doug in as a consultant with CFL rules and practice situations. These guys aren't used to the single points and things like that.
|Yours truly interviewing Dinwiddie back in the day|
RP: CONGRATS AGAIN AND GOOD LUCK IN MONTREAL RYAN!
DINWIDDIE: I'm looking forward to it! Hopefully we can both end up in the Grey Cup in Regina this year!
Hey Rod, hope you had a great vacation down in Playa. I was down there as well staying in Akumal Beach for a couple of weeks.
I am sure you noticed the Rider Nation is strong as ever even in Mexico!
A couple of pics if you want to share on the blog.
Pic 1- me at sports bar in Playa. I was just pumped when I saw the 07 Grey Cup Champ flag.
Pic 2 – first day at Akumal Beach resort sit by the pool and what do I see hanging from a balcony!! RIDER Nation baby!! I felt like I was at home in Mexico!
Share if you wish.
Go Riders can’t wait for the season!