Realty One


Monday, March 31, 2014



From the outside it appears things have been dormant at Mosaic Stadium since November's Grey Cup win for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

That changes this week when Canada's Team stages its third annual Florida minicamp and just like last year, it's at IMG Academy in Brandenton, FL.  For the first time ever, yours truly will be there broadcasting the SportsCage live Friday, Saturday and Monday.

Roughriders Assistant General Manager Jeremy O'Day was on the SportsCage with us Friday outlining details of the cap and says things are coming together nicely.

"They’re good," O'Day reported.  "We’re winding down as far as getting everyone’s travel schedules set.  It’s not the easiest thing to try to get 50 or 60 players from all over the US and Canada down to one spot at a certain time.  There’s some logistics to it but we’ve done it in the past and it’s becoming easier every year."

If you'll recall last year's camp featured mainly veteran players with only a handful of rookies and negotiation list players.  After the Grey Cup win, many of the Riders pinpointed the Bradenton camp as the place the crucial team bonding began.  This year it's going to be almost all rookies.

Why the change?

"I think the biggest factor is last year we had a new offensive coordinator with George Cortez and we wanted him to come down and start implementing some of his offense," O'Day explained.  "Last year it was more of maybe giving some of the playbook to the veteran guys and getting them used to the terminology.  This year we have the same group of coaches back and there’s not as much learning that needs to happen.

"We’re gonna have, I think, and this may not be the public’s consensus, but a good amount of our team from last year back so we’ll have a lot of continuity.  This will be more of an opportunity to bring guys in to compete in certain areas but also to compete in all areas.  In some positions we’ll have a true competition where the winner becomes the starter while in other positions we’re gonna have guys competing to unseat starters.  Competition’s always a good thing and it’s something football players understand and it’s part of the game."

A pic from the 2013 minicamp
Roughrider staff has been raving about the IMG Academy ever since the club starting holding camps there so I'm very excited to see it for myself.  We'll be broadcasting our shows on-site Friday and Saturday (4:00-6:30 pm).  To learn more about the compound you can visit their website at  The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be staging a similar camp the week after the Riders leave.

"It’s a great facility and it’s only growing," O'Day continued.  "What we like the most about it is it’s kind of an ‘All In One’ stop for us.  They’re able to house our guys, feed our guys, they tailor the field to our needs regarding the length and the width of the field, they have all the supplies like bags, ropes, cones and dummies.  We bring our own footballs obviously, but they have trainers available, taping supplies, Gatorade and watering stations.  Everything you would need for a training camp, they have."

If and when a minicamp roster is made available, I'll be sure to post it here.  In the meantime, you've likely only heard of two confirmed names.

"We’re gonna bring both of our quarterbacks down so Darian Durant and Tino Sunseri will be throwing," O'Day said.  "Other than that, there probably won’t be many vets.  There may be some guys who are veterans to the CFL but are new to our team that will be there.  You’ll see when you get down there Rod.  But it’s mainly gonna be first year guys to our team and guys from our negotiation list.

"Like I said it’s a good opportunity to compare the guys we have signed with the guys who are on our negotiation list.  The idea is to bring your best cards into the poker game.  You want the guys with the most skills, that are coachable and take an understanding of our game, and also meet the character that we expect."

O'Day, who turns 40 on August 31, wrapped up a 14-year Plaza of Honor-worthy career in 2010 as a two-time Grey Cup champion and immediately went into the Riders' Football Operations department.  In the three years since, the Buffalo, NY product has quickly become one of the most-respected front office types in the CFL, if not all of pro football.

As the son of a career hockey scout, I was eager to get Jeremy's perspective on what it takes to be a top-tier birddog.  Is it an innate ability or is it learned?  For instance former Roughrider GM Roy Shivers once said he could tell if a player could play within five seconds.  I believe that to be true in Roy's case.  What about O'Day?

"I think it’s a lot like being good at a sport," O'Day surmised.  "There’s different ways to skin a cat.  If you’ve been given a natural ability to play a sport, then you’re real lucky. There are other guys who have to work real hard to become good at it.  I think you have to have an eye for talent but when you evaluate a player you have think of how he’s going to fit on your team, not just in general of what type of player he is."

"How is he going to fit into your team?  Is there a specific skillset? is there a specific size? And a lot of that has to do with talking to your coaches.  Do they want a big running back?  Do they want a small running back?  A fast one?  One who can pass protect?"

The Roughriders' scouting staff is headed up primarily by GM Brendan Taman, head scout Craig Smith and O'Day but they also rely heavily on contacts across the continent.  The trio always splits up NFL training camps and preseason games so they can hit them all.

"It’s a lot different scouting a game as opposed to watching a game, I’ll tell you that," O'Day chuckled.  "It’s funny because when you scout a game you end up not even realizing how the game went in general.  You can look at the scoreboard and see who won but you didn’t notice the ebbs and flows of the game because you’re staring at the players all the time.

"I think you do have to have a natural ability for an eye for talent but there is that work part of it where you have to put in your time, doing research on the little details of the players, and not just what you see on the field.  It’s all about what that guy’s done up to that point."

So here we go.  With the celebrations of the 2013 Grey Cup triumph behind us, now's the time to set our focus on the 2014 CFL campaign.  The Riders can't wait.

"The neatest part of it for us is that we’re going to start looking at the team for 2014," O'Day concluded.  "That’s our first look at the guys coming in and it’s an exciting time for us.  Craig Smith lives for these days and these camps where he can see the new guys.  We’re excited about it and hope the weather works out for us."

The forecast for Day 1 of the minicamp on Saturday calls for sunshine and a steamy 85 degrees Fahrenheit.



Introducing the Friends of the Stampeders Touchdown Lottery!  In this photo are Calgary Stampeders assistant coach Marc Mueller and Friends of the Riders Touchdown Lottery President Tom Shepherd at a recent lunch at Boston Pizza South Regina.  Regina's loss was Calgary's gain with Marc.

NOW THAT'S A FRIEND!  Winnipeg Jets radio voice Brian Munz was in Dallas last week and picked up this recently-produced coffee table book on the career of my favourite all-time hockey player Mike Modano.  Munzie even got "MO" to sign it for me.  Thanks a ton Brian!

Rider Pride all the way from the Royal Castle Neuschwanstein in Fussen, Germany!  Swift Current Broncos scout Dennis Ulmer was there to visit his hockey-playing family and sent in this photo.

For golfers: Global Regina's Derek Meyers is hosting a golf getaway to Minnesota in May.  Click on the poster for all the details.

Here is the photo of the Redvers Rockets Midget hockey team that captured the MMMHL championship on Friday night beating the Radville Nationals 2 games to 1 in their best of three final. It would be appreciated if these boys get the recognition they deserve.

Thank you very much and Go Rockets Go!

Mike Garnier
Poplar Services


Check out these sports dinners around the province which include current and past Roughrider greats.  Please considering purchase tickets and helping them raise funds for community projects!!


Toronto filmmaker Jarrett Rusnak, a Regina product and friend of the blog, has produced a video which includes scenes from the 2014 CFL Combine in Toronto.  Please check it out.  Here's then note from Jarrett:

- Hi Rod,

Here is the link to the new video. Please post it in your blog. A mention in the MMG would be great too.

The web drama series is called ‘Another One Comes’ and focuses on six 20-somethings living in Toronto – one of them being a scout for the Toronto Argonauts.

This episode focuses on two of those characters, Ian and Jude. It was shot during the CFL combine and features cameos from Rick Campbell, Jim Barker, and Patrick Donovan (Asst. Head Coach & DC with the Concordia Stingrays).

I’ve applied for funding from the Independent Production Fund. Among other things, the project is being evaluated on how many views I get. Please encourage your readers and listeners to check out the series’ website at so I can make more episodes like this.




- Any CFL reporter who suggests CFL players should go on strike should seriously have his head examined.  What are you going to report about then?

- French Canadians are upset about the nickname of Ottawa REDBLACKS mascot "Joe Mufferaw".  Of course they are!  They always have to be upset about something.  Do a Google News search and you'll find out why.

- Happy 86th birthday to Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe today and happy 29th birthday to Kory Sheets!

- Saturday would have been NHL great Brad McCrimmon's 55th birthday and he was honoured on that evening's Hockey Night In Canada broadcast.  Brad will be inducted posthumously into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame this summer.  He will always be missed.

- And congratulations are in order for Brad's brother, Kelly McCrimmon, as his Brandon Wheat Kings advanced to the WHL's Eastern Conference semifinals with a first round sweep of the Regina Pats.  Kelly is the Brandon Wheat Kings and they will give the Edmonton Oil Kings all they can handle in Round 2.  They were very impressive in the series.

- It was a sad and surprising ending to the Regina Pats' 2013-14 season.  We've covered the club extensively all season long so there's no real need for a post-mortem this morning.  It was disappointing to see all the dejected Pats fans filing out of the Press Box Sports Bar after Friday's Game 4 loss in Brandon.  They showed up in Pats jerseys and cheered the club on while watching on the webcast until it was clear the team wasn't going to come back in the series.  They were young and seemingly affluent.  Just the type of fans you'd want but man were they down!  Just remember it's always darkest before the dawn!

- Those WHL webcasts are fantastic.  I haven't watched for at least a decade because when they started, the video was so choppy and dark that you couldn't make out who the players were and it was a frustrating experience.  However those broadcasts have come a LONG ways since then.  It's just like watching on TV and the replays are great.  Thumbs up from the MMG.

- The Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews reports the seasons of many Pats players have been extended.  Moving on to play pro hockey this spring are: Morgan Klimchuk (Abbottsford Heat), Chandler Stephenson (Hershey Bears), Kyle Burroughs (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) and Dmitry Sinitsyn (Texas Stars).

- Speaking of Saturday's Hockey Night In Canada telecast, CBC analyst Glenn Healy confirmed our Friday report that scoring by NHL defencemen is way up this year.  A lot of that has to do with the fact not many forwards are blocking shots anymore.  "Defenceman have scored 959 goals this year!" Healy observed.  "That's up a HUGE percentage."   It would've been more impressive if he'd known what the actual percentage gain is.

- Coach's Corner with Don Cherry lasted exactly 6:10 on Saturday evening and Grapes was his usual entertaining self.  He pointed out that that NHL teams aren't afraid to play against Detroit and offered mild apologies to Red Wings executives Ken Holland and Kris Draper who he knew were watching at the time.  Cherry also said the Boston Bruins are the toughest team to play against right now, citing the contributions of forward Milan Lucic who he repeatedly called, "LOO-Sick".  The proper pronunciations of names has never mattered to Cherry and, at age 80, why start now?

- On Saturday's Winnipeg Jets radio pregame show on TSN 1290, hosts Gary Lawless and Andrew "Hustler" Paterson were joined by Fox Sports One's Jay Onrait.  Hustler said, "The Dallas Stars Ice Girls have raised the bar in the NHL's Western Conference.  I follow that very closely!"  Onrait replied with, "And the Edmonton Oilers Ice Crew lowers it!"

- You may be asked to donate.  The Pilot Butte Storm are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven Prairie Junior Hockey League championship series against the Saskatoon Quakers and should they advance to the Keystone Cup in BC, they're going to need some financial assistance.  Stay tuned to find out how you can help.  In the meantime, think of some fundraising ideas which may be of assistance.  I'm thinking steak nights at the Four Seasons Sports Palace or Press Box Sports Bar?

- Congratulations also to the Notre Dame Argos for winning the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League title in four games over the Battlefords AAA Stars over the weekend.

-  The Quote of the Week has to go to football maven John Lynch.  At lunch on Friday with Riders head scout Craig Smith, Lynch asked how many running backs the team has coming to training camp.  Smith said they've got six players they're looking at.  Lynch shot back, "Yah but how many are GOOD ones?!"

- March Madness is down to the Final Four but until Sunday the tournament barely raised an eyebrow for me.  You have to find some reason to have a vested interest so it was a pleasure to watch the UConn-Michigan State game at the Four Seasons Sports Palace with Spartans alum Luc Mulliner.  Unfortunately State bowed out and it's now back to regularly-scheduled programming for this blogger.

- The 2014 Major League Baseball season officially opened on this continent with San Diego's entertaining 3-1 home victory over L.A. on Sunday Night Baseball on TSN2.  It was an intriguing scene with Padres fans on their feet chanting "Beat L.A.!" in the top of the ninth.  And Monday is opening day for the Blue Jays at Tampa Bay.  How long will the MLB season be relevant in this neck of the woods?  It usually is until Roughrider training camp opens and then it generally goes by the wayside.  Hopefully our infatuation runs longer this year.




Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Check out the movie called "Nebraska" - a great film set in the rural towns of the Great Plains. Can't help but mention that Bruce Dern would be the perfect actor to play our John Lynch if someone was to film his life story as a Rider fan (atic). Not sure who would be the right actor to play him in his younger years, Ryan Reynolds(?).

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Anonymous said...

Go Blue Jays! Baseball is number 1 for me, followed by football. I expect the Jays to be healthier this year, which will equal more wins. But I don't see them making the playoffs due to being in the AL East. Also nice to see baseball back in Montreal, even if it was only for two days. Hopefully a team back one day.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope that the Riders are doing everything they can to make sure that they keep O'Day around and not go work for someone else. From what we've heard he's been a big reason why we put together the team that we did to win the Cup last year. He's earned his paycheck for sure.

It looks like the Terriers/Broncos series is shaping up to be a dandy. Last night the Terriers beat Humboldt in double OT to tie up the series at one apiece. This was after Humboldt won the first game in Yorkton, also in double OT. Humboldt is out for blood after losing to Yorkton last year in the finals and the Terriers are equally determined to hold onto the championship.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding to hear Sportscage is heading to Florida.

Mike said...

Hey Roddy, make sure you post the roster from Florida is the team allows it. It would be great to find out who's down there.


Anonymous said...

...I was in Florida once, on a southern tour where I met this little red head chick..... she says, why don't you come out by the pool. So I went out....

Have a great trip!

Y'er Welcome

Anonymous said...

Agree with the above post. The time Is now for the Saskatchewan Roughriders Club executive to give serious consideration to Mr Jeremy O'Day as the team GM.

Anonymous said...

Rod. You should talk about the Bozon puck drop from the other night. One of the classiest moves by the hitmen in the ultimate show of sportsmanship.

If i would have seen that in person i would have teared up for sure.

Have fun in FLA

Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

The Riders have a GM ... he just won the Grey Cup.

Anonymous said...

Russ. The game Bozon dropped the puck for was a home game for the Ice, it had nothing to do with the Hitmen.

Anonymous said...

I guess SOME of the people in Quebec aren't happy unless they're complaining about something.......

Anonymous said...

It's not about getting rid of BT, it's about keeping O'Day around here so he doesn't take his talents to another team. Hugh Campbell took his talents to another team (the Eskies) and look what happened.

RWAH said...

I guess you did not see each and every Hitman player shake his hand and wish him well. It was a classy move.

Anonymous said...

...I was in Florida once, on a southern tour where I met this little red head chick..... she says, why don't you come out by the pool. So I went out....

Have a great trip!

Y'er Welcome

You sure the red head wasn't a dude? WTF does that have to with football???

Obama Fan club

Anonymous said...

Sir, I knew Hugh Campbell, I watched him play for the Riders, and I watched him build the Eskimos. Jeremy O'Day sir is no Hugh Campbell.

When Jeremy O'Day finds the next Warren Moon, and convinces him to forego the NFL to come to the CFL, and drive his value up we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lloyd Bentsen. The fact remains that O'Day is a talented executive and we ought to make sure he stays around here instead of helping some other team win.

Anonymous said...

And then at the end of the game each Hitman player shook each Ice players hand because in typical Calgary style their season was over because their team was over rated.

Anonymous said...

Let's get some perspective. Is he Marcel Desardin or is he Joe Womack. There is a lot that goes into this, and he's had a real job for all of about 3 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking CFL reporters would, in the event of a strike, cover the STRIKE. Wow.

There would be lots and lots of angles to the story, in case you're wondering.

Anonymous said...

.... and ran away from the red head chick.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr Hopson for last year Grey Cup team.

Go Roughriders!