A RIDER DOZEN RANDOM THOUGHTS
(And a note from the Regina Pats)
1 - Definition of a rant: "Speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way." Rider coach Corey Chamblin's rant on Tuesday about the possibility of being fired caught everybody's attention from coast-to-coast. It appeared in newspapers from Nanaimo, BC to Sidney, NS and got everybody in the league asking, "What's going on with him?"
I don't have the answer to that question. But Chamblin should know that - from what I can tell - nobody's calling for his job. He's been endlessly criticized in just three weeks' time but that's what they do here. They don't have Darian Durant to pick on so now Chamblin's in the crosshairs. But it doesn't mean they want him replaced. It's just their provincial pastime.
I'm always reminded during times like this of the treatment of Ron Lancaster. The beloved "Little General" couldn't wait to leave here because of this exact type of thing. He told his friends he'd never, ever settle here and he made good on his word. The province cried for days when Lancaster passed away in September of 2008, in Hamilton, but when he left he never looked back. Ronnie never got over the way his tenure ended here, despite all of the great things he did for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
And now Chamblin got fed up too and said "enough's enough".
That whole scenario on Tuesday when Chamblin made his comments was puzzling to me, but at least Corey let you know what's on his mind. It's got everybody talking and the only real sad thing that came out of it is it seems to have upset the older, long-term fans. They took it as a slap in the face.
My gosh where does it go from here?
2 - All this over an 0-3 start. But that's the way it goes in the Rider Nation. A win would cure everything, and perhaps it'll come Friday night in the form of a home victory over the B.C. Lions at Mosaic Stadium (8:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
Rider Hall of Famer Andrew Greene was our analyst on Tuesday's In The Huddle television show and surmised that this team needs to play with more effort and to play for 60 minutes. If they do that, they'll be coming out on top in these games. He also advised not to leave the game in the hands of the officials. "When you do that, you're always taking your chances," the former Seahawk and Dolphin lineman offered. "If you need one yard, get three."
If you need any more proof of how luckless the Riders have been to start the 2015 season, they haven't lost three straight games by three-or-less points since 1982. The Riders finished that season 6-9-1.
3 - Bill Tomporowski, one of the last of the original "railbirds", will be laid to rest today after passing away last week at the age of 80. I got a note from his son Duane who asked if I could say something.
When the Roughriders used to practice on that grass field adjacent to the railroad tracks, just west of Taylor Field, there was a group of old men who used to bring their lawn chairs and sit together while watching practice. They were known as "the railbirds". It was the highlight of their lives. Bill was one of them.
This was before internet message boards so this is where you'd have to go if you wanted to chat football with other hardcore Rider fans.
It wasn't before sports talk radio though, and "Bill T." was a regular caller into our shows. Usually, he wouldn't call until things reached a crisis point.
Anyway, it's always tough to lose a Rider fan but the world has lost a great one.
Farewell Bill T.
4 - You may or may not like the new CFL rules, but they're here to stay. That's the word I got from the CFL office this week. Like the way the NHL got rid of obstruction and fighting, this is the CFL's attempt to "open things up" and refreshen the game.
It's completely knocked the league on its ear and thrown statistics ALL out of whack. For instance, in this week's game notes package, we learned the CFL is on pace to have 17 one-thousand yard receivers this season. Last year there were only three. Also, there have been nine defensive touchdowns scored this season which is on pace for 61 for the year. The record is 42, set in 2004.
And sacks are waaaaayyy down, averaging four per game. That's the lowest since 2002.
5 - Furthermore, the league's officiating department feels the teams are their own worst enemies. Penalties may be up by about 30% from last year at this time, but 45% of them are the "preventable" fouls of Offside and Procedure. Regarding coaches not being able to ask for measurements anymore, the league says that's the coaches' own fault because they used to ask for measurements just to get an impromptu timeout.
The fact is games are taking less time this season despite all the penalty calls. There have been less reviews and FAR less measurements.
And, the number of penalties called has dropped week-to-week. This is all exactly what the league predicted would happen with the nine rule changes and they are pleased.
6 - The Roughriders have been featured in four of the CFL's last five overtime games and have a 1-3 record in that time. Meanwhile up until Friday, the B.C. Lions hadn't played in overtime since 2004.
7 - Week 4 in the CFL opens tonight with Hamilton at Montreal. On Friday the doubleheader opens with Edmonton at Ottawa. The Eskimos are 3.5-point favourites in this one but I'm going against the grain and picking the RedBlacks to win. They are 2-1 overall (more evidence of the CFL's statistical whackiness in 2015) and they own the league's #1 defense. The last time an Ottawa team was 3-1 was 2004 when the Renegades opened the season 3-0. They went on to finish 5-13.
8 - Meanwhile Ottawa's Brad Sinopoli leads the team in receiving and is the #1 Canadian receiver in the league with 190 yards. It should be a special feeling to be Canadian and lead the Canadian Football League in any statistic.
9 - Another odd statistical quirk: The Riders and Blue Bombers are the most-penalized teams in the CFL (43 flags each) yet the Edmonton Eskimos lead the league in penalties-per-game at 17.5. Edmonton has simply played less games than the other two teams and therefore haven't taken as many total penalties.
10 - You'll have to forgive the avalanche of CFL coverage and little else of other sports. From sun up to sundown, that's where my head is at for six months. I've poked my head out enough to notice the Blue Jays beginning the post-All Star schedule 4 1/2 games out of first in the AL East and owning the best offense in Major League Baseball. So ... are they going to finally make a run for it and do something about their pitching? They owe it to their fans after 21 years out of the playoffs!
Oh, and Matt Devlin could takeover the play-by-play of Blue Jays telecasts on Sportsnet on a permanent basis as far as I'm concerned. I love Buck Martinez, but Devlin has been sensational pinch-hitting this week.
It's too bad Sportsnet needs to find Americans to fill these roles, but it is what it is. It's also too bad American networks don't feel the same way about hockey!
11 - There's a player on the NBA's Phoenix Suns from Saskatoon? That's what I thought I heard during highlights of Summer League games in Las Vegas, but didn't catch the chap's name.
12 - It's no secret, I prefer to watch American news networks over Canadian while I'm pounding away on the treadmill. Headline News (channel 47) is my go-to. So I've been inundated with coverage of the U.S. Presidential Election and guess who's leading the polls amongst Republican candidates? That's right, Donald Trump.
I don't think Donald Trump as President of the United States is good for anybody. However political observers say the Democrats are desperate for Trump not to win the nomination because they know he'll beat Hillary.
Now this is fascinating stuff!
13 - And finally, I'll never complain about the cost of a hotel room in Saskatchewan again after spending the weekend in Vancouver. We extended our stay after Friday's Rider game at a cost of $379 per night. THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-NINE!! And the weather was miserable so we were unable to take the harbour cruise we were hoping for.
So, we opted to watch the UFC at a downtown sports bar and then enjoyed the movie Ted 2 in a jam-packed theatre. The Scotiabank theatre offered pizza, burgers, hot dogs, poutine and Starbucks at the concessions which immediately drew my ire. We're not good enough for this in Regina?
But then once we sat down, the seats were cheap and hard as rocks. I'll take the comfort of a cushioned seat over an expanded concession menu anyday.
The movie Ted 2 gets one-and-a-half thumbs up from the MMG. However if you're going, make sure you watch Seth MacFarlane's original movie Ted on Netflix before you go otherwise you'll be lost.
But it was great being in Vancouver and I wasn't in a particular rush to get home.
0-3 will do that to you.
You can too. This tournament is open to golfers of all experience levels. The entry fee is $350 and includes 18 holes and a cart at Regina's most-prestigious course. There will be a BBQ lunch followed by a full meal following the event. Each golfer will receive and exclusive gift.
Tee & green sponsorships are available as well. For information on any of this, call the Pats office at 306-522-PATS.
The SportsCage will be broadcasting live on location that day on 620 CKRM from 4:00-6:30 pm.
THAT'S ALL. ENJOY FRIDAY'S GAME AND GET YOUR TICKETS!