20 NOTES & QUOTES
1 - First and foremost, it's important for the Rider Nation to stay patient and supportive during the club's torturous 0-8 start. It's really the only choice we have. In the brief dealings I've had with the braintrust of the football club, there's no appetite for a change at this point. That's actually a good thing, so the coaches can come to the stadium each day and not have to look over their shoulder or fear a call into the GM's office.
Hopefully however, it's not blind faith from the higher-ups and they're taking the necessary steps to ensure this season is merely a "blip", and not a long-term franchise slide. Do they know what they don't know?
2 - Those pining over the current success of the 6-2 Hamilton Tiger-Cats need to get ahold of themselves. As one CFL executive noted on Thursday, "Hamilton's been through their pain. Both on the field and off, financially". They got murdered in the 2013 Grey Cup, jobbed (they feel) in the 2014 Grey Cup, and owner Bob Young has lost MILLIONS since taking over the team in 2004. It's just finally turning around for him after a decade in charge.
Rider fans want our recent history and the Ticats' future. It doesn't work that way.
Don't be so greedy.
3 - 2003 was the year the Hamilton Tiger-Cats went 1-17, with their only win coming in September at Ivor Wynne Stadium against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I remember it well, although I had to look up the details yesterday. Paul Osbaldiston kicked the winning field goal in overtime for a 27-24 Hamilton win. The Riders went on to an 11-7 record that year. Ron Lancaster was the Ticats coach, and Alan Ford was the interim GM. What a disaster. Al and I joked about it this week. The next year, Bob Young rode to the rescue.
4 - The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Michael Vick as a back-up to Ben Roethlisberger this week. Didn't hear anyone criticizing Steelers' GM Kevin Colbert for recycling players from the NFL scrap heap? Incidentally a friend of mine in Calgary is a Steelers fan and was bummed out by the signing of Vick. He called him the "biggest POS in the history of sports". I disagreed and opened the phones on the SportsCage on Tuesday to see who people feel is the biggest jerk in sports. The consensus winner seemed to be woman-beater Floyd Mayweather, of boxing fame. Oddly, some respondents voted for CFL'ers Drew Tate and Odell Willis. Both those guys played for the Riders and I can tell you they're not jerks. Different ducks perhaps, but not jerks. People also nominated Mike Tyson, A-Rod, Sean Avery, Pierre McGuire, Barry Bonds, Adrian Peterson and even me. What an honour to be in that list.
5 - Why are the Montreal Alouettes a dumpster fire this year? Sportsnet's Arash Madani pointed out this week the Als are without Marc Trestman and Anthony Calvillo. That's why. I wrote on CFL.ca earlier this year that the backbone of the team is the Coach and the QB. When you're good there, you're golden. The same would apply to the Riders.
6 - CFL game notes point out the winningest quarterbacks in the CFL this season (all at 6-2) are all under the age of 30: Zach Collaros (26), Trevor Harris (29) and Bo-Levi Mitchell (25). And, none of them have more than 30 starts in the CFL.
7 - Collaros has won 14 of the Ticats' last 19 games and figures to lead them back to the Grey Cup. He has a years-long feud with Rider QB Tino Sunseri which goes back to their college days (Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh) but right now Collaros is getting the upper hand.
8 - Bo-Levi Mitchell is on pace to be the greatest quarterback the CFL has ever seen. At 21-4 as a starter, that's better than anyone in CFL history. TSN's Paul Lapolice says Mitchell has a looong ways to go to be considered with the greats of the game however, and walked into a great situation. Having said that, he's stepped up and answered the bell.
9 - Lapolice also said on the SportsCage injuries cannot be used as an excuse. Maybe for a few games, but not over the course of an entire season. Lapolice was the Riders' offensive coordinator in 2008 when the club suffered 12 broken legs but rallied to finish 12-6.
10 - The Toronto Argonauts are 6-2 for the first time since 1997, the year they went on to beat the Roughriders in the Grey Cup at Commonwealth Stadium. In Week 10, the Argos are featured in the marquee game of the week as they visit the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday Night Football. It's a rematch of the 1996 Grey Cup.
11 - For what it's worth, scoring is up in the CFL, average 50.3 points per game. Not once during the 2014 CFL season did scores average that total.
12 - The Roughriders have lost six games by four points or less. The record is seven games by that margin, held by the 1996 B.C. Lions. The Lions went on to finish 5-13 that season, and miss the playoffs.
13 - Paul McCallum's streak of 802 consecutive converts made spanned 21 years, or 8,008 consecutive days dating back to September 25, 1993. It was the longest active streak in the CFL, but it was broken in Saturday's 34-31 loss to Calgary. Corey Chamblin is being criticized across the league for having McCallum kick the convert into the wind in that game since Calgary's John Hufnagel attempted only two-point converts into the north endzone Saturday night. The next longest convert streak in the CFL is Troy Westwood's 657 with Winnipeg.
14 - Calgary's Eric Rogers has caught a touchdown pass in six consecutive games. That's the longest in the CFL since Weston Dressler did it during the 2012 season.
Poor Weston Dressler. I mean it. As the leader of this team, he's now the go-to guy for interviews after practice and after the games. You can see the pain in his eyes and how much losing is hurting him. Hopefully it doesn't last much longer.
15 - Interesting comment by rookie Rider receiver Alex Carroll (Queen's) who will draw the starter's role this week due to the injury to Chris Getzlaf. "When I look around the locker room, I see winners," Carroll told me on Wednesday. He's right. A tweak here or there, and this team could be back to prominence.
16 - The Regina Pats open training camp on Friday. Not too many are focused on hockey around here these days but I'll be in the rink a lot in September the way things are going. #GOPATSGO. Ironically I turned on TSN 1050 in Toronto this week and they were talking about the Leafs. That's why when you turn on the SportsCage here, you're generally going to hear about the Riders. It's the way it is.
17 - The Darryl Sydor story is painful yet educational. The 43-year old Minnesota Wild assistant coach and former Kamloops Blazer entered treatment this week for alcohol dependency. There were some intriguing quotes from his lawyer in the StarTribue this week.
Lawyer Ryan Pacyga said Monday. "Right now, it's about Darryl taking care of himself and really getting his arms around this." Pacyga said Sydor recently relapsed because he did not continue in a recovery program beyond last summer's rehabilitation.
"Those are the people that relapse at almost a 100 percent rate," Pacyga said.
Pacyga said: "If the disease doesn't continue to go monitored with a real active recovery program, the nature of the disease is that it's progressive. We often see that with people in a relapse situation where they think they're able to manage whatever's going on and next thing they know they feel like the carpet's been pulled out from under them.
"You go into a binge and before you realize it, wanting to have two drinks turns into too many. Rigorous daily maintenance is needed in order to remain sober, and if you don't, you're in danger of a relapse at any given moment. So when he returns, I personally plan to help him get into a program of recovery with daily support. It's going to be longer journey for Darryl."
18 - Got some news on the Patrick Kane situation this week. It's not good for the Blackhawks superstar. This story isn't going away anytime soon.
19 - It's funny what winning does for a franchise. Take, for instance, the Toronto Blue Jays. I find myself scrolling the dial for AM 1190 in Weyburn to listen to Jays broadcasts for the first time in years. I'm also paying $3.49 per month for the MLB At Bat App so I can listen to the games on my Iphone. Winning. That's the best marketer.
20 - Caught the movie Straight Outta Compton this week, believe it or not. Two thumbs up from the MMG, and a big toe too. I probably don't need to tell you what it's about -- just go see it. Dr. Dre, Eazy E, Ice Cube, they're the greats. Pioneers. They changed the world. Unlike the movie Vacation, which we caught a couple of weeks ago. It was silly, and a waste of time and money.
THAT'S IT! ENJOY THE LAST WEEKEND OF SUMMER