1 - Blog hits are through the roof. During the bye week, Roughrider fans have been hitting up this website four, five times per day checking to see if there's been a firing (or firings) in Riderville. However I can tell you there have been no firings. And the last word we received out of Mosaic Stadium is that there will be no coaching change today, tomorrow, next week or for the foreseeable future. It's on Corey Chamblin to salvage this 0-7 season of 2015. Things will then be re-evaluated at the end of the season.
Incidentally the vast majority of the Rider Nation doesn't want to see Chamblin go. Check out the Titan Auto poll on the left side of this page! Over 70% of respondents don't want a firing. Please vote yourself.
2 - Former Roughrider defensive coordinator and CFL nomad Gary Etcheverry told the Offsides Podcast with Luc Mullinder this week that a seven game losing streak under Chamblin shouldn't be a surprise. "Etch" says all of Chamblin's Roughrider teams have been streaky since he arrived in 2012. What I took from that is these Roughriders could just as easily come back from the bye and win seven in a row. Wouldn't that be nice? However Etch also advised that regarding the amount of penalties the Riders have taken, it's likely "too late" to be corrected if that wasn't part of their mindset coming out of training camp.
3 - Gary Etcheverry's name has come up as a possible interim replacement for Chamblin if a coaching change were to be made. So have Dave Ritchie and Doug Berry. Guys who may come here just until the end of the season. This is just coffee row speculation.
|ITH with George Reed, Marshall Hamilton and me|
"Are you crazy?" Reed asked me. "You know what - those guys had their day. It would be like me going and putting on a uniform and wanting to rekindle what I had before. I don't think it's time to make a coaching change here and even if you did, it's time to step outside and get a guy like Dave Dickenson. You won't get him because he'll coach Calgary next year but get somebody like that. Somebody with some upside. Etcheverry and these guys had their swanswong and it's time to move on."
4 - So many across the CFL have asked what it's like in Saskatchewan right now with the team at 0-7. They want to see us squirm. However I had to tell them the truth -- everybody's stunned but nobody's turned on the team. Sure there are the whackos and nutjobs who want everybody fired but those are the same people who complained Geroy Simon wasn't being used enough in 2013 when the team was 8-1 and romping to a championship. (How silly does that look now?). I'm as surprised as anyone that the club is 0-7 but equally surprised that the fans continue to be right there with the Riders, and haven't missed a snap of any game.
5 - One thing's for sure ... we continue to have fantastic people in that locker room. That philosphy was ushered in during the Tillman/Austin/Miller era and continues to this day. During the bye week Tristan Jackson, Dan Clark and Matt Vonk were seen donating blood at Canadian Blood Services as part of a blitz for donations from the public. The players are making community appearances all over the province this week. It seems not many players actually left town because I've seen them all over. We Walk Among You. And the players and fans are in this together.
6 - It was frightful to consider that, with the exception of future Grey Cups, last Saturday night was the final Saskatchewan Roughriders game ever in Rogers Centre. The stadium opened in 1989 and was christened by a Saskatchewan Roughriders Grey Cup championship that year in the most-exciting game the Green & White has ever played. The first time I experienced "Skydome" was 1999 in my first year calling Rider games. It was jaw-dropping then and in a lot of ways, it still is. Of course the Riders' 2007 Grey Cup title was won there as well so Rogers Centre will always have a special place in Rider lore. Having said that, we were all craning our necks at BMO Field as we drove by on the weekend wondering what that place will be like for the visiting Riders next season.
7 - The 20,642 fans in attendance at Saturday's Roughrider/Argos game was a good start to their home schedule. The Argos averaged barely over 16,000 all of last year. Observers are estimating that 6,000 of those were Rider fans Saturday night. Meanwhile Argo President Chris Rudge issued an apology via email to the fans who attended the game but were delayed getting into the stadium. "What happened on Saturday night with regard to lineups and wait times to enter the stadium was not acceptable," Rudge wrote. "Officials have informed us that the average wait time at Gate 11 was approximately 20 minutes and even longer at Gate 5. Wait times were significantly longer (at other gates) - more than an hour."
Rudge also noted that "gates were under-staffed" and there "weren't enough experienced security staff available to assist and many of those on-site were still in training".
Like I wrote in the MMG, the Argos are unwelcome visitors at Rogers Centre and everyone is holding their breath until they can move into BMO Field next year. Remember, Rogers and Bell are violent competitors and Rogers owns Rogers Centre while Bell now owns the Argos.
If everyone would just grow up, that would be really nice.
8 - The two most ecstatic CFL markets right now have to be Hamilton and Ottawa. The pair is tied for first place in the East at 4-2, along with the Argonauts. The RedBlacks issued a news release this week informing us that fewer than 500 tickets remain for the Sunday, August 30 game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at TD Place Stadium. The news release even quoted TSN's Duane Forde who surmised TD Place is becoming the best venue in the CFL to experience a game.
"Our fans are obviously making a name for themselves, and rightfully so," said Jeff Hunt, President of OSEG. "We're all very proud of our fans and our team."
Hopefully one day soon the word REDBLACKS will pass the spellcheck on my Iphone and laptop. Regardless, the RedBlacks are warning Rider fans that if you're planning on coming out for the game, get your tickets now.
9 - The significant injury to Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy (6-8 weeks, fractured knee), makes him the fifth #1 quarterback to go down this year. The others: Mike Reilly, Jonathan Crompton, Darian Durant and Ricky Ray.
10 - Something to consider when making your CFL picks this week -- home teams have won the last eight consecutive games. And the East is 10-6 against the West this season.
11 - The Saskatchewan-Toronto game on Saturday was the second-highest penalty total in CFL history at 43. The very next day, the Winnipeg-Hamilton game drew only 11 flags. That's the lowest total since October of 2013.
13 - If Scottie Douglas doesn't win WMBL Manager of the Year, there should be an inquiry. Once at the bottom of the division, the Regina Red Sox are now on their way to the league final after winning the deciding Game 5 of their second round series, 5-4, in Weyburn last night. The Red Sox visit the Lethbridge Bulls in Game 1 of the league final tonight.
No one is more happy or relieved about this than 620 CKRM's Mike Abou-Mechrek who waved a broom in the direction of the Weyburn Beavers at Currie Field on Monday, with Regina on the verge of sweeping Weyburn in the series.
14 - You are seeing Blue Jays merchandise around this town everywhere. I'm assuming it's the same all across the country as the Jays have won 10 in a row and people are starting to wonder if they'll ever lose again. They've taken over the division lead. Someone dared called these fans "bandwagon jumpers" but that's false and unfair. We've always had an eye on Toronto's baseball team but they never gave us reason to care past August 15. Get out your Blue Jays stuff - or buy some - and wear it proudly! I've been wearing mine for years.
I really, really can't wait for the Regina Pats season. Incidentally I met with the QCSEG this week and I'm happy to tell you the team is expanding its television broadcast package and I'll be back in the booth providing the play-by-play in 2015-16. Back in the hockey booth! What a thrill!
THAT'S ALL! OFF TO SEE THE PRIME MINISTER. ENJOY THE BYE!