Tuesday, October 13, 2015
THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE
THE VIEW FROM THE BOOTH
1 - HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!: It's an abbreviated long weekend as we didn't return from Hamilton until Saturday evening and we're on the air with the SportsCage Monday at 4:00 pm on 620 CKRM. However we were able to fit in some family time on Sunday and celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. I'm thankful to be the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the greatest franchise in the CFL and one of the most glorious in all of professional football! I'm also thankful to be able to ply my trade in my hometown surrounded by family and lifelong friends.
2 - BYE, BYE LOVE: The players and coaches are gone. Most of them anyways. Following Friday's 30-15 loss in Hamilton, the Roughriders went on a bye week and for the second time this season many of them skedaddled to their hometowns across the continent for an extended break.
You have to wonder what their attitude will be once they return. The Riders were officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss in Hamilton and now they have three meaningless games remaining. You'll hear a ton in the weeks ahead that "No games are meaningless" but you know what I mean.
As professionals, they'll be ready to go back to work. But it's got to be tough when the fire's been snuffed out.
There's also a ton for the football club to decipher this week for those who are still on the job. How could they come out so flat in two must-win games in B.C. and Hamilton? Why is the defense giving up acres and acres of yards? Why has quarterback Kevin Glenn struggled so much that he's had to be pulled the past two games? Is he part of the plan moving forward? Same for veteran Chris Getzlaf who dropped two first down passes and negated another due to penalty against the Tiger-Cats? Was he victim of nerves or rust after missing the prior seven games?
So much needs to be discussed.
Wednesday, October 14 is also the CFL trade deadline but I don't expect anything major out of the Rider offices. Heaven only knows where TSN got the wild rumour of the Riders dealing Kevin Glenn to the Tiger-Cats after both sides said they had no interest.
3 - "THE PLAN": Rider coach Bob Dyce mentioned last week that the club has two plans for the rest of the season: one for if they remain in playoff contention and another for if/when they're eliminated. We've seen the first one, and I assume we're about to see the second. I asked Riders GM Jeremy O'Day how different the plans actually are.
"They're significantly different," O'Day said on Friday's pregame show. "I think everyone needs to be patient as far as when that process occurs. I think anytime you're in a position of leadership you have to show support to the players that are around you. For us to look in the locker room and say 'We're throwing in the towel', it would be awful difficult for us to do that.
However we have to keep in mind the position that we're in and moving forward, there is an evaluation process that will happen. It's not like we haven't discussed it. We have a plan in place for what will take place over the next three games and we'll exercise that when the time's right.
"The other thing you need to understand is there is an evaluation going on for a lot of players (now). We had a new centre (Corey Watman), we're playing with rookies Nic Demski, Naaman Roosevelt, Andre Monroe, Jeff Knox and Tyree Hollins. We do have a lot of young guys in the lineup as it is and a lot of those evaluations are ongoing. You can't just have wholesale changes but we understand where we're at and we do have a plan that's ready to be executed."
My guess is you'll see Brett Smith start the Riders' next game, October 24 at home to Edmonton, however no one has confirmed that. At some point we'll likely see rookie Keith Price as well, however it's doubtful it'll be in a starter's role.
4 - UPSTAIRS: While all these moves are being plotted in the football operations department, you've got to think there's plenty of action upstairs in senior management. Last week we noted that several candidates have applied for the Riders' GM & Head Coach positions however no names have been disclosed. TSN reporter Gary Lawless floated the name of Calgary Stampeders' Assistant GM Mike Petrie in his column late last week, linking him to the Rider job. The Stampeders' website notes Petrie "grew up in Saskatchewan - as a Stampeders fan". Petrie was the Stamps beat writer for the Calgary Herald before making the move to the football club. It's highly unlikely he'll be among the final candidates.
I was poised to mention Steve Sarkisian as a potential head coaching candidate in this column because entering the weekend the former Rider quarterback (1997-99) was on the hotseat as head coach of the USC Trojans. However Sarkisian was placed on temporary leave by USC on Sunday and his future is not known. I'd like to see "Sark" here one day, but it won't be anytime soon. Or at least until he gets his troubles straightened out.
5 - GOD BLESS RIDER FANS: While attending Game 1 of the ALDS between the Rangers and Blue Jays in Toronto, we got a real appreciation for the fan. We had to cab it $22 from Hamilton to the train platform and then go another hour on the train into Toronto's Union Station before hiking several blocks to Rogers Centre. Once we got in, prices were sky-high for everything (including $500 for a $125 face value ticket) and even in those seats behind home plate our knees were cramped. However to see the AL East pennant unveiled, and everything that happened over the next three hours, made it all worth it.
It reminded me of the fact that as broadcasters we get to an empty stadium hours before the game and don't battle lineups for the washroom. A meal is provided. There's shade or heat in the broadcast booth, whichever you prefer. And when you leave, your car is in the parking lot where you've been afforded a season-long parking pass just yards from the stadium.
What Rider fans endure to watch their team play at home in that rickety old stadium is a testament to their love for the team. The fans are sacred and their concerns need to be taken seriously. Rider President Craig Reynolds and I discussed that in Hamilton and left the discussion on the same page. God bless Rider fans.
RAPID FIRE MONDAY NOTES
1 - There's plenty to be excited about with the Saskatchewan Roughriders despite their 2-13 record. The problem was identified, corrected, and they're in the process of getting it fixed. There's a beautiful new stadium being built next door and the future is BRIGHT! As TSN's Darren Dutchyshen said at the Plaza of Honor a few weeks ago, "1-11 doesn't matter. Well it does, but the Riders are bigger than that". It's clear many fans agree, as you still see just as much Rider paraphernelia on the streets now as ever before.
2 - The club's recent struggles have made me appeciate the 2013 Grey Cup and that whole Grey Cup Week even more. If you shelled out the exorbitant ticket price for the game, it turned out to be a bargain. It was the greatest day in Saskatchewan sporting history. You're just not going to get that every year, or perhaps every decade.
3 - Air Canada is now offering Wifi on its long flights. Hurray! It'll cost you $5 or so but it was worth it. The Wifi signal isn't strong enough to broadcast video but at least I was able to listen to the first half of the Edmonton-Calgary CFL game on Saturday which was a true bonus. Plus I could get some work done. Bravo Air Canada! WestJet, you're now on the clock for amenities.
4 - The Blue Jays send R.A. Dickey to the mound tonight in Texas to try and stave off elimination in the ALDS which the Rangers lead 2-1. It's been fun following this Blue Jays team over the past few months. However why is the franchise's highest-paid player (P Mark Buerhle at $20-million per season) sitting on the bench in the playoffs? I don't think I'll ever get the mentality of baseball.
Oh, and the Jays are welcome to use the term "Canada's Team" until the end of this year's playoffs, free of charge.
5 - The Toronto media got lambasted in the Dallas media over the weekend for complaining about officiating in Games 1 and 2 of the series (particularly Game 1). There was a hoax on Facebook that the RCMP was going to investigate a conspiracy against the Blue Jays. Boy do the Toronto reporters look shoddy for complaining about the umps after losses. :)
6 - Many have asked about the broadcasters' travel with the Roughriders. It will be revisited by the new regime in the off-season. All of Carm and my travel for 2015 was booked in advance through the end of the season.
7 - Seahawks punter Jon Ryan of Regina took umbrage with NFL Network analyst Brian Billick's weekend comment that kickers aren't football players. Jon took to Twitter to write, "Here's Coach Billick's stats as an NFL 'football player'. 0 games played 0 catches for 0 yards. Oh and 0 FG attempts."
Billick responded on Twitter with: "Wrong. That's not at all what I said. Kickers are extremely important and critical to the outcome of a game."
8 - Somebody wrote into Thursday's blog column saying to introduce betting to the CFL was a "dumb idea". Not really. While drafting my Draft Kings Week 5 lineup on Saturday, this thought ran through my head: "Man I'm going to have to watch a lot more NFL if I'm going to conquer this Fantasy stuff". Bingo! I caught myself. And therein is the hook and the benefit to the leagues. More viewers to the games and more readers to blogsites and our Twitter accounts for roster updates.
9 - Two NFL observations from Sunday: 1) is there a more played-song than Hell's Bells by ACDC at NFL games? and 2) does Peyton Manning lead the NFL in television endorsements?
10 - Hockey Observations: They're calling it the "Dawn of the Babcock Era" in Toronto. My Southern Ontario friend Nick Osmak quipped over wings in Hamilton, "It's not good when the head coach is the only thing they have to promote" ... There was only one NHL game on Sunday (Montreal's 3-1 win over Ottawa). Even the NHL is avoiding the NFL's Sunday games ... Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano is the NHL's current Ironman at 622 games ... Arizona's Max Domi is the first player in franchise history to record a multi-point NHL debut since Shane Doan did it in 1995 as a Winnipeg Jet against Dallas in 1995 ... Once this Federal election's over, what are people going to write about on Facebook? Sheesh! Can't wait for it to be over. Don't forget to vote!
THAT'S ALL! ENJOY YOUR MONDAY ...