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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

RIDERS READY TO PACK UP

The Saskatchewan Roughriders held their second-last training camp workout in Saskatoon on Tuesday.  Here are some notes:

Jim Hopson and Kevin Glenn
- It took until about Day 18 but former Roughrider President Jim Hopson was finally able to make it up to Saskatoon to watch his beloved team in training camp.  He was actually on his way to North Battleford - with travelling partner Chuck Toth - for a Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association function in North Battleford.

Everyone's mood brightened when "Hoppy" showed up early in the workout.  He spent time visiting with several staff members but perhaps spent the most time with GM Brendan Taman.

He then wandered down to the south endzone to see offensive line coach Dan Dorazio putting his troop through their paces.  As a former Rider lineman (1973-76), he wanted to see how the hoggies were coming along.

- Hopson's obviously bound for the Plaza of Honor.  It would've been a worthy gesture to waive the mandatory three-year waiting period to include him in the 2015 induction class, but perhaps that wasn't thought of in time.

- I maintain that this franchise wouldn't have its last two Grey Cups nor a new stadium being constructed if it wasn't for Hopson's heroic efforts during his tenure from 2005-2014.  That may not be a popular opinion for some, but this is my blog and that's how I feel!  There's no benefit to me kissing his butt now.  I'm just speaking the truth.

- As for the workout, veterans Ryan Smith and Tyron Brackenridge continued to watch from the sidelines.  The severity of Smith's injury - suffered Saturday against the Eskimos - hasn't been disclosed however Brackenridge said he's "getting close".

- Slotback Weston Dressler participated full bore in the workout and says he's fit to play in Friday's preseason game against the Calgary Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium.  He missed the Edmonton game with what he termed a mild strain.

- We hosted Tuesday's SportsCage from our Regina studios and co-host Mike Abou-Mechrek noted that his game star from Saturday's 31-24 preseason loss to Edmonton was rookie Canadian nose tackle Rory Connop.  We'll hear from Connop on Wednesday's show.

- SaskTel launched a Twitter contest (@SaskTEL) on Tuesday asking fans to name their favourite Roughrider.  The winner of the contest will be randomly drawn and will be awarded two tickets to Friday's home preseason game.  We held a poll on Tuesday's show and the most popular Roughrider player amongst our listeners was Darian Durant.

NOTES FROM COREY CHAMBLIN'S POST-PRACTICE MEDIA SESSION:

- Weston Dressler will be ahead of the game this year having participated in training camp.  Last year he missed training camp while working out for the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and Chamblin said this year he won't be "behind the eight ball" like he was last year when he returned in time for the Labour Day Classic.

- Tailback Anthony Allen has dropped some weight and Chamblin said he's displaying more "shiftiness".  Last year he had more of a fullback build but is a straight tailback now.

- Chamblin said they drafted players at a variety of positions this spring in order to provide more flexibility with the ratio.  However he's told his coaches he wants the best players starting at all positions, and they'll sort the ratio out afterwards.

- Chamblin has "two or three" scenarios regarding the ratio, and how that relates to the kicking game.  He said Friday's preseason game will determine who wins out in that area.  He's looking for points, deep kickoffs and good punts.  Mostly, he feels consistency is what he's looking for.  He still thinks 32-yard converts should be automatic.

- He wasn't willing to offer an assessment of who's ahead in the kicking game right now.  The three kickers on the roster are Chris Milo, Hugh O'Neil and Ray Early.

- Chamblin said the fact Ryan Smith was present at Tuesday's workout shows that his injury is progressing.

- Tyron Brackenridge participated in individual drills but will need to show more in practice next week to prove he's ready to play in Week 1.

- Veteran fullback Spencer Moore brings a different skillset than the retired Neal Hughes.  Chamblin feels he's versatile, in a different way than Hughes.

- It's a possiblity they'll keep two linebackers for the weakside linebacker spot.  Chamblin mentioned Telvion Clark, Jeff Knox Jr. and Jake Doughty as the three in the competition.

- Nic Demski has done some things in camp and the preseason to impress Chamblin but also got on his bad side by fumbling a punt Saturday night.  They discussed it, but Demski fumbled again in Tuesday's practice.  Chamblin said no matter how fast Demski is, he'd better learn ball security.

- The players are getting better and are more conscious of the new rules.  They coaches will continue to lean on the players in this regard in practice, and hope the results transfer into the game.

- Veteran middle linebacker Shea Emry displayed some leadership by scolding rookie teammate Marrio Norman for his play.  Chamblin said he has no problem with that.

** The Riders will hold their final workout in Saskatoon Wednesday morning before breaking camp and heading back to Regina that afternoon.  Friday they host the Calgary Stampeders in the preseason finale at 7:30 pm at Mosaic Stadium (TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rod: Totally agree with your take on Hopson.

Anonymous said...

New commish, City of Saskatoon proudly announce new football franchise+stadium, soon!

Rod Pedersen said...

You wish.

Anonymous said...

Hopson's heroic efforts boil down to one decision. Hiring Eric Tillman. Everything else was set up on a tee by that point. Board restructuring, Phoenix Group partnership and the league's Reebok partnership were all in place by the time Hopson arrived on scene. So Hopson hired Tillman, and Tillman inherited a solid roster with a strong nucleus and added to it and hired a great Head Coach and the rest is history. It is not hard to be successful when you have resources, and Hopson landed in the big chair when the club was solvent and had $3 million in the bank. It really comes down to winning on the field and the response of the fans. It's really condescending to the fan base who has saturated their closets with more sports merchandise than the average fan of even other major teams in other leagues. Hopson was a good administrator and did a great job organizing the 2013 Grey Cup festival and of course deserves credit for the time and work he put in to the stadium project. Too bad he couldn't have stayed out of football ops; if he had he wouldn't have been the author of a disastrous and embarrassing 2011 season, a turd that belongs 100% on Hopson's doorstep. Mostly he did good, but let's ease up on the reverence. You confuse your feelings about the on-field results come November of those mid 2000's teams with the overall, big picture situation of the franchise at that point. He didn't swoop in and save the franchise, he arrived in to a good situation in a franchise that was solvent and competitive on the field. Our appetite for a winner and a pro franchise we can truly rally around and be proud of has always been there, and that team was provided to us by people like Shivers and Tillman and Austin and Taman and Chamblin and Durant and Joseph etc. They gave us what we have always wanted and that gave the club the opportunity to basically print money. And hey, full marks to Hopson for making the most of it, but if we were averaging 24K fans every year from then until now do you think we'd be building a $300 million stadium no matter what Hopson did??

Anonymous said...

Quote : Pedersen..... "This is my blog and that's how I feel" ! Sounds like something a 5 year old would say.

The Woz said...

Look I agree that Hopson did a good job. But to label it herios is over the top. I call him captain obvious. He hired austin and tillman which were obvious selections at the time. He then hired an available taman after the tillman fiasco which was an obvious choice. He expanded merchandise sales also a no brainer. The stadium also a no brainer since we had to either build or rebuild. Much of what he was able to to hugely benefited from one of the biggest booms in sask history with thousands moving here potash and oil and agriculture booming, real estate skyrocketing....all that allowed people to have way more disposable income to spend. So ya he did a good job but anyone would have made those same decisions and i find them far from heroic. The heros were ken preston and all ford types who kept team alive when the province was broke and people were leaving in droves. Soory just how i feel.

Anonymous said...

A few things:

First off my commentary on this blog will be less vitrolic and I'm just going to state facts, and not make it personal. I've long stated many of you haven't got clue one and I'll still maintain that, but I'll be nicer about it.

1) Yeah it was obvious to hire Tillman...the guy was on TSN nobody else was knocking on his door. Yeah it was obvious to hire Austin...the guy was fired from Toronto had a thin resume, and nobody was knocking on his door.

Chicago just won their third Stanley Cup...it was obvious to hire Quennville after he did nothing in St Louis and Colorado and was sitting in the stands as a Pro Scout. It was also obvious to hire Stan Bowman along with drafting Toews and Kane.....

It's obvious you haven't a clue. Jim Hopson was a School Division Administrator. He came into the organization and put an infastructure in place and most importantly accountability. If you had seen or heard stories of how the team operarted on a business level prior to his arrival you'd ask why he wasn't hired 10 years earlier.

Here's what I'll say about Jim Hopson. Hopson was good at his job.......his ability or lack thereof to deal with human beings is another matter, but he was hired to get results and he did. Two of them in fact, so he's the most important hire in the history of the organization.

I say that not even liking the guy, but he got the job done.

2) I don't follow the team's training camp and I never did. I wait for the first game, and that's when it starts rolling. If Durant stays healthy there is no reason why this team should not be in the Grey Cup final. Calgary and Edmonton are contenders, and Hamilton may get over the hump, but Saskatchewan is a legitimate contender.

3) Woz......potash and agriculture were responsible for the Riders success?....they won 7 games in a row in 2007 and the spark ignited. Dare I say had they not carried that momentum into a Grey Cup championship it'd be the same old story. In fact you're starting to see the attendance lag now because they started losing. The formula is simple here. Win and win at home, and people will be here.

Actually Woz, and this is just how I feel. I think Saskatchewan would have benefitted had you been one of the many to leave in droves.

Y'er Welcome
Obama

Anonymous said...

That first comment regarding Hopson as a good administrator but that's it really nailed it. Yes he was a good at running the business and yes the team sorely needed a full time guy at the top. But the main reason for the Riders success is the winning. If there's no winning, there's nothing else. You can have all the merchandise and promotion in the world but if the team is garbage, nobody will buy it. Therefore there are three men who are responsible for the team being where it is now: Roy Shivers, Eric Tillman and Brendan Taman. Plus the other detriment to Hopson was his massive ego. That 2011 season was where it finally caught up to him. He was on the field doing drills with the coaches, making player announcements and hanging out with the players during the games. And the results spoke for themselves. He even admitted it to the Regina chamber when he said "We may have gotten complacent and said we're the Riders, we'll be fine". To his credit he got out of the football department but yet he still insisted on being in the spotlight with making the Ben Heenan and Geroy announcements. Completely cutting his football ops guys off at the knees. So yes, Hopson deserves some credit for running a good business but to glorify him like that is garbage.


Y'er welcome
Jeb

Anonymous said...

The players must be pumped to finally get out of that dive of a city that is Saskatoon!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Roy Shivers responsible for the success of the current building blocks for the Roughriders on field product/direction. Mr. Graham Barker, now "he's the man" who came In and cracked the whip and gave the overall organization credibility/accountability. Give the correct credit where credit Is due. As for the other's? Club now back to inconsistant struggle year after year to find the missing components of a continuous winning product with the exception of the "win at all costs" 2013 championship to "appease" a long suffering fanbase where that game could have had dire long term consequences had the resulting end score not been in favor of the home team on "home turf". Can you imagine the bitching to this very day had they not won? "That team was "produced and orchestrated" to not have anything but the end result.

Anonymous said...

"There's no benefit to me kissing his butt now." Hmmm, interesting statement...

Anonymous said...

Oblahma's abiding love for the Woz is obvious. But what the Woz and the person who posted above him can learn from our clownish friend Oblahma is to use paragraphs. While The great WOZ and the other person may have fun writing it, there is no way that anyone will read through it. If you are unsure how to use paragraphs, stay behind today talk to your high school English teacher.

In regards to Jim Hopson, I think that 2017 would be the year to put him in the Plaza so he can experience game day on the field in the new stadium.

I am puzzled though by Oblahma's claim that Jim Hopson was not good with people. Maybe NO ONE is good with people all the time. Maybe Oblahma is Jim's neighbour and they don't get along. The statement by Oblahma is about as meaningful as me saying that Oblahma is an asshole. To some he is, to others, he may not be.

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Wait, did someone call Al Ford a hero??? Al Ford is absolutely *not* a hero. That idea is offensive to any fan who sat through the mess that was the 90's.

And Obama - you make some serious leaps and your conclusions are just your assumptions passed off as fact. Just because Tillman was working for TSN doesn't mean he wasn't widely regarded as a prime GM candidate. Paul Lapolice is a prime OC/HC candidate despite spending a few years on TSN instead of coaching. Uh, yes, hiring Tillman absolutely WAS the obvious choice. The second Shivers was fired all speculative eyes turned towards Tillman. The hiring surprised absolutely no-one. You're off living in la-la land as usual if you don't think hiring Tillman wasn't the blatantly obvious choice given that the GM change was being made in the middle of the season and a two time Grey Cup winning GM is sitting on the TSN panel.

Secondly, anybody that knows football already knew what a solid, promising coach Kent Austin was and that the firing of Austin in Toronto was shameless scapegoating by a club not living up to the hype. Also, coaches get fired all the time and go on to have great success elsewhere. So you just took the firing at face value and had no read on Austin's potential and you think that equates the hiring was not obvious?? Because the second they announced they weren't bringing Danny Barrett back all eyes turned to Austin and he was the immediate front-runner.

So, I don't know what you were doing in August of 2006 and January of 2007 when those two decisions were made, but whatever it was it didn't include paying any sort of attention to what was going on. Because in both cases absolutely nobody was surprised at the outcome. And, for the record, Jim Hopson did not hire Austin. I have no idea where that falsehood came from, but Eric Tillman hired Kent Austin.

Would you like to look at other football-affecting decisions he DID make besides hiring Tillman?

Brings back Shivers on a one year lame duck contract instead of firing him and replacing him ahead of the 2006 season.

Hires Brendan Taman to be the GM and then immediately subverts Taman's authority by making Ken Miller Taman's boss after Taman had already signed the contract.

Taman wanted Chamblin from the start, but Hopson's appointee Miller wouldn't allow it without taking hiring control of the rest of the coaching staff away from Chamblin and Chamblin wanted no part of that. So we got Greg Marshall and Jim Daley instead and the wonderful 2011 season instead. Brilliant hires!

Oh there's also the time that Joe Womack made critical comments about Ken Miller to Jim Hopson in a private conversation, and then Hopson blabbed about it to Miller, and that ruined Miller and Womack's working relationship and spelled the end of Womack's time in Riderville.

So ya, Hopson did a lot of good, but he obviously wasn't perfect, he wasn't here for the tough times, he didn't swoop in here and rescue anything, and he MOST CERTAINLY wasn't the architect of any of our championship teams. That's the part that's most offensive; that Jim Hopson is the guy that built championship teams. When you think of the hours and the lives of GM's and head coaches and assistant coaches to guide a team through the season and then get right in to building the next team... it is unfathomable how anybody with a straight face can site Jim Hopson's 'heroic efforts' in winning championships. There's guys on those teams that will probably have CTE at some point later in life going, "Uh, hellooooo, I'm the one that actually helped win those games!"

Anonymous said...

Also the part about our flagging attendance is B.S. The jam packed sell-outs aren't universal because low endzone seats suck and are harder to sell. The reality is that without that initial rained out game with lots of flooded basements the Riders were at 99% capacity last year, and that's what they'll be this year again.

Anonymous said...

Macho Harris a linebacker, huh?

Rod Pedersen said...

He is now. Started at strongside LB in the playoff game.

Anonymous said...

Dink (Obama) and Doink (The Woz), hilarious! Please sir's/madame, may we have some more?

Anonymous said...

Hopson is definitely not the architect of any of the Cup winning teams. He just wants all the credit for it. Kind of like Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Saskatoon get a team and a stadium!?!?! bahahahhaha PAAAAAALLLEEEAAAAASSSSEEE. Man do Saskatoon people ever have their heads in the sky.

Bill from Watress

Anonymous said...

Lol Bill from "Watress"? Doubtful because if he really was, he would spell "Watrous" correct.

Just Saying

Anonymous said...

Watress get a team and a stadium!?!?! bahahahhaha
PAAAAAALLLEEEAAAAASSSSEEE. Man do Watress people ever have their heads up their a**.

Dill from Watress

Anonymous said...

Wow, I have never seen so many long essays on a Friday comment section! Where do these people get the time to write these? Does anyone actually read through these long winded pontifications?

Big Ed

Anonymous said...

You're right Big Ed, let's keep it short and sweet.

Hopson is overrated.


Al

Anonymous said...

Al,

Hopson is retired, so time to get over it. He ran a good ship and was well respected by fans here and people all over the CFL. There has never been a "rating" system for team management, save for the team winning a Cup.

All that matters now is building a 2015 Rider team that can beat the Stamps (in the regular season and in the play-off when it matters most).

As Frenzy has been heard to say on occasion, "its going to be fantastic".

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

To Al and other nay-sayers,

Not sure how someone (Hopson) can be over-rated when they take a team from a survival telethon one year to, instead, being one of the most successful sports franchises in Canada, including now, an international presence.

And let's not forget they have been in the Grey Cup 3 out of the past 5 years...

Nay-sayers... Get a life!!!

Kel

Anonymous said...

I suspect the people who don't like Hoppy or are jealous of him are people who don't get any respect in there own lives, or have never accomplished anything in there own lives.

People who's wife and kids probably don't even respect them.

Thanks for everything you did for Rider Nation Jim!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kel, the telethon happened eight years before Hopson arrived. The team was well on the upswing before he arrived, as the one poster mentioned. Someone in the Regina media was trying to get Roy's thoughts on Hopson as he retired, what ever came of that?

Anonymous said...

Well then, I guess if the Riders were well on their upswing (after the telethon), then I guess the Riders wasted their time hiring a full-time President. Maybe the nay-sayers are correct and Hopson did nothing for the team???

Is that your point?

------
Of baseball with the BlueJays, and the Raptors of Basketball, and with the MLS of soccer and, of course with the NHL... The Sask Roughies are the third highest in merchandise sales as not only is the Rider nation strong, but the marketing and brand is through the roof. Guess what, that was all during the Hopson era...

Let's give some credit where credit is due... Oh yeah... What about the new stadium coming in 2017???

Kel

The Woz said...

I will make the following correction. Very true that tillman hired austin not hopson directly.... But to me they were a package deal of no brainers.

Look do i think hopson did a good job? Yes. Am i glad we had him? Absolutely. But what got me was referring to him as a hero and that people think of him as the saviour of the franchise. He made several obvious decisions... Good for him but hardly heroic.

Obama if you ever actually had a business you would know that is is far easier to manage in the good times. The best owners and managers are those that can hold the fort during the bad times. Hopson took over in the perfect situation....province booming, people staying, cfl tv contract money going up....compare that to the ford and preston eras where the province and residents were not wealthy and most young people moved to calgary.

I do not buy the argument that winning is everything....it helps. But we had winning seasons in the 80s and 90s but i remember many a game where we were still sitting in front of 18000 fans to watch austin elgarrd fairholm and narcisse. The riders were even winning under barrett but we were still not selling out.

It all came together not because of hopson but because of the economy, disposable income, and young people staying and finding the riders cool. Roy also deserves credit for being brave enough to take over in 1999 (tillman turned us down) and got a better product on the field and we were able to start attracting good free agents..good.guys wanted to play here not the greg battle and other washed up guys. We were next door to broke so Roy also started sponsorships from companies, he got merchandising going, and did one of the most important things ever....he set a limit for a sellout. Up until then people could come anytime and get in to sit in the endzone....with a limit it made tickets a hot item.... Buy early or dont get in. Roy was a hero.

People always talk about what jim did for revenues. But take a look at expenses and number of staff between 2006 and now. Expenses and staff have grown exponentially. They used to have one marketing guy, a couple of accountants and a few ticket office people. Now look at the size of administration. I always find it curious as a shareholder with the amount of info provided these days. Jim made things way less transparent. We dont get detailed financial statements anymore....just a fancy pamphlet of highlights. The agm is alot less open now? Why? Because jim did not want uncomfortable questions being asked.....

I stand by ford and preston and roy being the real heros cause they managed with an empty gun with gliebermans pezims and other goofball owners that we would have to pay to bail out when the went broke and the other reasons already given. And i was there in the 1990s.....and 80s and 70s and 60's.

In response to the one poster I am happy with my life and family and not jealous of jim. He did what he was supposed to do....not a hero.

Hope you all enjoyed the paragraphs!

Daryl Pratt said...

All I read in the comments anymore is ignorance from people. Furthermore if you don't like Rods opinions then don't read his blog !!!

Daryl

Anonymous said...

Woz,

You're simply dysfunctional. The hard times - from the dirty 30s to 2007, how did we ever manage.....you're simply limited. I'd never say you were dumb, because I am sure you can eat soup with a spoon and not spill.

This hogwash about how bad it was here is horse manure. I lived here and stayed here, and I did just fine. I knew more than one guy on that executive board and let me tell you this. Those guys were nothing more than an old boys club.

The Riders had one guy on the Board with ballz and that was Phil Kershaw. He's the guy that said about hiring Don Mathews, "How can we afford not to.", so don't tell me about empty guns. The Riders always wanted to have guys they could control,and Al was only to happy to follow along. He's a great guy, but he reported to a Board of incompetants.

Clarke took over in '99 and he's the one that said it has to change so they finally got a football man in there and that was Roy. From there Hopson came along as a day to day CEO, not this volunteer mom and pop shop they had set up. Edmonton was doing this a long time ago and their success spoke for itself.

Hopson did what he was supposed to do, I would not call him a hero, but he is the most important guy they ever hired, and had the largest impact.

Also as for him retiring.....well if you think that was his idea then you don't know how the sausage gets made.

And Woz..as for this happy life you keep spouting off about if you have to keep telling us how happy you are I wonder if you're trying to convince us...or yourself...think about that one.

Y'er Welcome
Obama

Anonymous said...

I am a huge fan of Hoppy and what he did here, but hero...no.

Hero's are the guys that run into burning houses and save a life, or the hundreds of firefighters that ran into the world trade centre and never came out.

One of my biggest pet peeves, when athletes do a post game interview and say "it was a war out there".

No. It most definitely wasn't. Ask the guys who have been to Afganistan. I think they could tell you what a real war is like.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

Woz I don't know what you're talking about re: financials. Detailed financials are available at every AGM, and you also contact the Riders directly and they will make them available to you.

I missed last night's AGM because I forgot about it but I'd been to every one dating back to about 2000. I do not know where you get the idea that the AGM is "less open."

The Woz said...

Thanks for yor insight obama. Always a great read and i respect your opinion and intellect. You are the best.

My reference to my life was in response to another poster who implied that people like me who disagreed on hopson being a hero were jealous or not happy in their lives so simply responding to that. Sorry. But yiu having to attack me saying that obviously indicates you are jealous and not happy with you life. Sorry to hear that. But keep trying.... You can domit with a little therapy....just take that first step and leave the basement....i kniw it is scary and will be hard with that sunlight in your eyes but yiu can do it. I believe in you.

I will say that the org structure that you mention with a president on the business side and a gm on the football side did not come forward for the first time in 2006. In 1993 the structure was the same with ford the business guy and matthews the football guy. The titles may have been different and you may disagree about ford but the structure was the same.

As for the old boys club board.... I am sure that tom shepherd, kramer, mcdougall, fred hill, and all the others over the years would appreciate yiu saying they were incompetent. Hey obama knows more than a bunch of millionaire business owners who as directors had to take on personal liability for club operations.

You and i stayed here but an entire generation was lost to alberta....have you seen a rider game on tv from edmonton or calgary and see all the green? I personally know at least 25 people that left. So you are saying that the 18000 we were drawing to many games in 1995 when we were 11-7 was because we were not winning? I know that you are the authority on everything from asswipe to ear hair so pkease enlighten me. Because we won many years and drew flies for many games.

I just thank god that you have stayed in our lives to explain everything. I am trying to choose paper or plastic....please help because i cant leave the store until i get your opnion.

And to the other poster....i stand by my opinion that the agm is not as tranparent. There is no chance fir questions and i still say the financials do not provide as much detail as they did before. But hey if yiu think you know the detailed reasons why expenses have increased every year then let me know. And dont give me the general explanations they include in the report....details please.