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Thursday, November 26, 2015

THURSDAY RODSERVATIONS


2015 GREY CUP NOTEBOOK

1. WINNIPEG -- 2015 Grey Cup festivities officially got underway in the Manitoba capital Wednesday morning with the annual Coaches News Conference featuring Edmonton's Chris Jones and Ottawa's Rick Campbell.  We were making the five hour drive from Regina during the gathering so we had to miss it, but it seemed like there were a lot of laughs to be had.  Many came from the traditional question from the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones regarding whether the coaches will allow their players to have sex during Grey Cup Week.  The quotes are contained in a post below but, honestly, many feel it's time to shelve that time-honoured quiry.  It definitely makes everyone uncomfortable however in the 14 Grey Cups I've been lucky enough to cover and attend, Rider coach Corey Chamblin's response in 2013 is still by far the best.  "I told them if they win the Grey Cup, they'll have lots of sex," Chamblin quipped two years ago.  "Yep."  I'm sure he was right.

2. GETTING IN THE SWING OF THINGS:  It seems as though when we get to Grey Cup on Thursday it feels like we've missed something however when he hit town on the Wednesday, it's too soon.  That appeared to be the case this time around as the Winnipeg Convention Centre - the hub of the week's activities - was virtually a ghost town yesterday other than facility staff setting up for the various parties, souvenir booths and the TSN set.  However Wednesday's SportsCage was a roaring success on 620 CKRM as we were joined by former Roughriders defensive back Jeff Treftlin (1989 Grey Cup champ), Ottawa RedBlacks colour commentator Jeff Avery (1976 Grey Cup champ), and our regular Wednesday guests in Paul Lapolice and Jim Lang.  We'll be situated on "Radio Row" alongside all TSN Radio affiliate stations through Friday and I'll take this time to thank TSN for extending the invitation to be part of their impressive group.

3. THE RADIO BROADCAST:  620 CKRM is the official Voice of the Grey Cup and we'll be carrying Sunday's proceedings beginning with the pregame show at 1:00 pm followed by kickoff from Investors Group Field at 6:00 pm.  Rod Black will call the play-by-play on radio alongside colour man Giulio Caravatta of the B.C. Lions while Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor will have the call on television.  The pregame show will consist of various TSN Radio personalities from across the CFL.

Lawless & Odell Willis at the WBB Media Party
4. KICKING THINGS OFF:  In what will hopefully become a Grey Cup tradition, Winnipeg Blue Bombers President Wade Miller hosted a party for the CFL media on Wednesday at the Shark Club downtown.  It was attended by virtually all team beat writers along with club broadcast personnel and TSN personalities such as Rod Smith, Jock Climie, Chris Cuthbert, Farhan Lalji and Gary Lawless to name a few.  There were several CFL players on hand including the Riders' Paul Woldu.  Lawless was nice enough to extend an invite for the CKRM crew to attend so Luc Mullinder and I took him up on it while Carm Carteri begged off in favour of CFL great Miles Gorrell's 60th birthday party at the St. Norbert Hotel.  We give Gary Lawless a hard time but he truly has a heart of gold!

I'm not sure how many attendees thanked Wade Miller for the bash but I was sure to shake his hand before leaving at 10:00 pm along with Stampeders play-by-play man Mark Stephen and Luc.  Hopefully at 2016 Grey Cup in Toronto, Argonauts President Michael Copeland continues the tradition.

5. THE RUMOURS:  The rumours were flying fast and furious at Wednesday night's party, as you can well imagine when the CFL media gets together.  The Roughriders' General Manager search was certainly the #1 topic however I discovered the origin of the Chris Jones-to-Saskatchewan gossip and let me just say it's baseless.  I'd be SHOCKED if Jones winds up in Saskatchewan, and equally surprised if he's interviewed.  It's generally agreed upon by reporters that current interim GM Jeremy O'Day has the inside track however John Hunfagel's name was on most everyone's lips.  The Stampeders' Mark Stephen is adamant Hufnagel isn't going anywhere, citing the fact "Huf gave his word" twice that he's under contract in Calgary and plans to honour it through 2016.  However I don't feel it's been put to bed yet but if the Stampeders President refuses to grant permission for the Riders to even talk to Hufnagel, the whole idea could be dead in the water.

The juiciest rumour I heard was that former Rougrhriders coach Corey Chamblin could be in line to replace Casey Creehan as defensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts.

Head coach Jeff Tedford's status with the B.C. Lions is very much up in the air, and not just because news broke this week he's been contacted by NCAA teams about returning Stateside.  Apparently Tedford's first season in Vancouver was a rocky one and he wasn't given a ringing endorsement by GM Wally Buono at the year-end news conference.

And one of the most popular questions at Grey Cup is: will TSN's Paul Lapolice be coaching anywhere in 2016?  There could be an opening in B.C., we know there's one in Saskatchewan, or he may even find himself as offensive coordinator where he lives, right here in Winnipeg.  Many feel Lapolice is content being a star on TSN's CFL coverage but in every discussion I've had with the New Hampshire product, he wants to be back on the sidelines.

Jutras posing with her book Wednesday night
6. OUR LEAGUE, OUR COUNTRY:  CFL photographer extraordinaire Johany Jutras was hawking her new book Our League, Our Country at Wednesday's media party.  It's a photo expose consisting of images the Quebecer took while travelling across the CFL this summer and fall and is on sale at Grey Cup and all Rider Store locations for $40.  And she's no dummy -- the front of the hardcover book depicts the Riders' famous card stunt from the 2015 Labour Day Classic.  If you're coming to Winnipeg this week, it won't be hard to find the books on sale.

7. THE WEATHER:  So far most everyone is complaining about the weather but the windy, minus-5 conditions are nothing compared to what we endured at the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina.  B.C. Lions fullback Rolly Lumbala Tweeted on Wednesday: "Just landed in Winnipeg for Grey Cup!! Bitter sweet and bitter COLD!!!!! #LOVETHE CFL"  In truth, it's not bitter at all.  You can get around in a sportscoat whereas in Regina you'd have died, literally, without a parka.  Thursday is forecast to be the coldest day of the week at minus-9 while game day on Sunday figures to be partly cloudy and minus-5.  That's balmy compared to what Bomber President Wade Miller feared.

8. OH YEAH, THE GAME:  While all this was going on, both the Eskimos and RedBlacks practiced outdoors at Investors Group Field on Wednesday.  I'm told many of the reporters watched the workouts from the heated press box.  It may be unfair to say this, because I haven't spent enough time around either team, but it appears the Eskimos have an edge in attitude this week.  From all the quotes and video I've seen, the Edmonton team has shown up with a very determined focus.  Their long-time equipment manager Duane Mandrusiak even hung all 13 of the franchise's Grey Cup banners on the ceiling of their locker room to provide added motivation.

As for the Ottawa players, they truly seem just glad to be here (but again, I haven't spent a ton of time around them).  RedBlacks colour man Jeff Avery admitted this Grey Cup appearance in just their second season of existence is well ahead of the plan.  I likened it to giving a two-year old a driver's license.  Maybe that particular two-year old is qualified, but it's "just not ready".

9. THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE:  Keeping with tradition, the teams will break bread with the media on Thursday.  The East Division champions will hold a media breakfast followed by a media lunch with the West Division champs.  Traditionally the CFL Commissioner addresses both teams and then it turns into a free-for-all with reporters scrambling to collect as many interviews as they can in the allotted time.  Then, each squad will hold its lone closed practice of the week.  Also on Thursday, Riderville opens at 5:00 pm at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

10. OUR GAME:  Finally, a word on the atmosphere at the 103rd Grey Cup in Winnipeg.  The Convention Centre was bustling with staff and Grey Cup volunteers who've flown in from across the country and every single person had a smile on their face.  Many of them, displaced Saskatchewanians, stopped by our broadcast booth and just wanted to chat about their beloved Roughriders.  Others, not so much.  I asked if I could fill up my travel coffee mug in the volunteers' lounge and a lady, a Winnipegger, said, "I suppose so even if I don't like that jacket you're wearing".  Then she smiled and waved me in.  That Rider track jacket has truly been quite an ice-breaker over the years.

You won't hear any talk about the NFL around here this week, or the NHL for that matter.  The Grey Cup truly is a celebration of Canadian football and it's a wonderful chance for all of us who love the game to get together and show our pride.  It's a very rewarding week.

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THAT'S ALL! SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4 PM
RP
@sportscage

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

It hurts that the Riders are not in the Grey Cup. It is kind of like reading about a big wedding event where one does not know the bride or groom. You wish those attending a load of fun, but can't get too excited about the event. (Although, like the movie The Wedding Crashers, if one can pull it off getting into some free food and booze at the party would be a hoot.) I just hope for a high scoring game with a barn burner for a finish - over-time would be fun.

Anonymous said...

HAHA - Chamblin as defensive coordinator in Toronto. If the happens we know who will have the worst D in the league.

I was really impressed with him as head coach until he went insane this year but I've never ever thought he was any sort of defensive genius. If he can get his ego in check I see him as good head coach material again. Unlikely (highly unlikely) CFL head coach but maybe NCAA. Just a wild guess based on no facts at all.

Larry said...

Rod - Just leaving for the Peg, see you at the Convention Centre later today!

Rod Pedersen said...

You bet. Drive safe.

Anonymous said...

Standing beside Willis there, you would think the old 96er hasn't seen a salad in quite some time

Anonymous said...

Generally agreed upon about ODay? If he gets the job while other who are far more qualified are passed over then the search was obviously a sham. Reynolds better be careful because Riders fans will erupt in anger if ODay is given the job over someone like John Murphy who does nothing but win everywhere he goes. The Regina media has been an embarrassment during this process, it's obviousl they are rooting for ODay for selfish reasons, not because it's what's best for the club. Good luck trying to sell a promotion from a 3 win football team.

Les

Anonymous said...

Fact is Chamblin is a young man who had the horses to go all the way in 2013. Once his GM hung him out to dry with no talent in 2015, he was toast. I'd say he lacked the life experience and maturity to handle that kind of adversity with good grace. Wherever he ends up with this experience, he's sure to be better.

The best coach in the league couldn't have gotten the 15 version of the Riders into the Grey Cup. Taman sabotaged his Head Coach. And O'Day was there for it all so that's why he can't be the next guy. I have nothing against O'Day personally but I'm tired of all Regina media painting guys like me with the negativity brush because I want my team to find the best candidate. To them I say, do you want this team to win? Because I do!

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Toronto or any other team will sign Chamblin until he takes ownership for what he did in Regina. Last I heard, it's still everybody else's fault.

Connor said...

I can't wait to get there on Friday afternoon. This is the last Grey Cup in SK or MB for the next 7-10 years so don't delay get your ass to Wpg.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more Les but what else would expect around here!!

Anonymous said...

Loved the sportcage yesterday' you had me in stitches. More pictures, please!

mister winnipeg said...

I agree Rod, time to throw that stupid sex question into the dustbin of history. I'm sure it was great fun for Shakey Hunt to ask it back in 1971 when all the reporters at the presser were half in the bag and writing about sex in the newspaper was super titillating stuff. Now it's just awkward for everyone. Enough.


Anonymous said...

Les, brilliant comments!! Agree 100%

Anonymous said...

Low cut shirts for the win!

Anonymous said...

5. THE RUMOURS
"It's generally agreed upon by reporters that current interim GM Jeremy O'Day has the inside track."

I take it that none of the reporters have read Murphy or Sunderland's resumes or they are just patronizing you and your shameless campaign.

Anonymous said...

Les, the Regina media are only doing so cause ODay is Hopson's guy and Hopson knows that if he wants to continue his position of influence in the Rider organization then his guy needs to get hired. If someone from the outside comes in, they'll see all the BS that Hopson pulls and will tell him to go shove it. Can't have that. Funny you never hear from the guy who went against the grain by hiring Roy, he sure got put out to pasture for going against the old boys club.


Speaker Ryan

Anonymous said...

"Standing beside Willis there, you would think the old 96er hasn't seen a salad in quite some time"

Although similar size, that's not Scott Schultz

Anonymous said...

" I have nothing against O'Day personally" Have you actually ever sat down and talked with him? Know his family? His personal values? Guessing not, so how is this comment even relevant.

Les - How is John Murphy far more qualified? How is Sunderland far more qualified? Richie Hall is immensely more 'qualified' than Lapolice to be a head coach - so why aren't we considering him for HC? Don't believe me, read his bio!

See what I did there?

Dick Rubnutz said...

Good work Roddy. We need more pictures and more tidbits about our GM search. We're the addicts and you're the pusher....give us our fix!!!

Anonymous said...

One would have to be a fool not to think O'Day doesn't already have the job. This so called search is just window dressing for the fans, whom management think they are fooling. Mullinder's comments that this is just to appease the fans is accurate. Apparently our fans are pretty gullible. What better way than to interview other team's assistants and then say your guy is the "best fit". Say it was "very close" but we gave to our guy.

Taman was hired without a search and this will be no different. The Riders do well with raising capital but poorly with managing the on-field product. The more things change the more they stay the same. These other candidates should save their time and effort because they won't be getting the job.

If the Riders wanted to talk to Hufnagel, I'm doubting Calgary would step in his way. He has done a ton for the team and is in his last contract year. I'm darned sure they would let the Riders talk to him if for no other reason than respect for his past services. The Riders don't want him interviewing up against their guy.

This is a very polarizing situation where the majority of fans want someone with proven experience building a franchise to come in and do it here. O'Day clearly doesn't have that experience and will come to curse his selection. He is clearly not the choice of money paying fans. The fans will not be patient nor will they be forgiving. After a few years if there is no championship, the Riders will be going through this process again. Reynolds will have to answer and probably be scorched for his previous work on this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rod for writing about the Grey Cup and not mentioning Henry Burris. Rob Vanstone has that one covered. LOL

Anonymous said...

No

Anonymous said...

I hope the Riders sign O'Day to be GM just to piss off the 2% of the posters on here that continue to show they have no clue despite thinking they know it all.

Ryne "the Truth" Speaker

Anonymous said...

to Ryne "the Truth" Speaker

Obviously you're not a Roughrider fan.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely N O to O'Day !

Anonymous said...

I think everyone forget that you know it all!

Anonymous said...

If you think that it's only 2% that don't want O'Day as GM
then you are not a Riders fan or don't watch football at all. If O'Day becomes GM it will bring this team back to the 90s. Regardless of what the bias media says Murphy is the best candidate out there and this is not even close!

Anonymous said...

Rod what happen to the poll when you ask should O'Day become GM? Looks like many fans was not in favour of having O'Day as GM and you took it off!

Anonymous said...

Vanstone is probably still pissed that we won the Cup in 07 and 13 cause it diminishes the 89 championship that he worships. Don't believe it? He wrote an article after the 07 Cup saying just that.

Winning the Grey Cup is like getting laid. It's always going to feel good. Speaking of which, keep the sex question in the coaches press conference. It gets a few laughs and helps break the ice. You people are way too damn sensetive.


Gundersons Yorkton

Anonymous said...

Speaker Ryan
Hopson retired, he is no longer with the Riders. He has "zero" influence! shesh....talk about living in the past!

George Jetson

Anonymous said...

Rod, anything to report regarding those Canadian university games proposed to be broadcast during the season. Seemed like it was last minute and the organizers couldn't get all the teams on board for 2015. Any word if we can look forward to those games in the 2016 season?

Remember listening to "the Sports Cage" working outside on a shed a couple years back during Grey Cup week. It was the show where you guys were describing the fight that broke out(might have been awards night) I nearly fell off the roof laughing so hard. One of the greatest SC shows EVER !!!

Anonymous said...

The sex question would be awesome if a woman asked it instead of a creepy old man looking for attention.

Anonymous said...

Something most of you youngsters beaking on here can't seem to grasp is that you all are a minority in the grand scheme of Rider Nation. You may think the "majority" don't want O'Day but the fact is that most true Rider fans, coast to coast, will support whomever is anointed GM. Always have, always will. It is the same in any sport. Always will be a vocal minority that are never happy and now with Rods blog you have a soap box to spew from.

Anonymous said...

True Rider fans want the best for the their team while part timers would not care. Calgary is solid every single year and part of this reason is Murphy. Murphy knows how to find talent when he sees it!

Anonymous said...

rider nation? No such thing as rider nation. Its Riderville! Always has been, always will be Riderville. Damn wannabe praire redneck hicks trying to belong.

No to O'Day!

Anonymous said...

Rider Nation is Canada Wide! - R-Nation is city wide (boo) - Go saw some logs my silly friend.

Ottawa Redblacks Suck! - Go Esks Go!!

Anonymous said...

Someone thinks Lawless is Schultz?! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

Redneck Riderville hicks. No such thing as rider nation. Riderville Riderville Riderville, it says so here at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the hub of Grey Cup activity 2015.

Anonymous said...

Shultzy and Lawless separated at birth