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Friday, June 3, 2016


SASKATOON -- Scruffy had problems sending his weekly column so I'll put one together for you rabid readers.  Here goes:

1 - It's an endless, fascinating debate as to how the Roughriders are going to be this year.  Hall of Famer Wayne Shaw said on Thursday that six wins would be a major improvement.  (And in all truth, he's right).  Meanwhile some CFL insiders think 9-9 is attainable, which should accompany a playoff berth and therefore a shot at the Grey Cup.

Remember this:  Chris Jones took a 4-14 Edmonton club to 12-6 in his first year with the Eskimos.  It's not unheard of.

2 - The comments from Saskatoon Star-Phoenix columnist Les McPherson from Tuesday's edition keep echoing in my head.  "These are strangers trying out for the Roughriders," he wrote.

For the most part, he's right.  But now's a good time to get on board with this team rather than later in the season when you'll run the risk of being labelled a "bandwagon jumper".  It's rewarding to see a team come together and say you were with them from Day 1.

McPherson further wrote, "You'd have to sit at a busy hospital maternity ward to find a place of greater promise than the Saskatchewan Roughriders' 2016 training camp."

3 - There's a tad bit of confusion about what's going to happen Saturday for the Roughriders' annual Green & White mock game.  For starters, it'll be held at SMF Field (formerly Gordie Howe Bowl).  Secondly, the gates will open at 4:00 pm (free admission) and the game will start at 5:00.  I'm scheduled to announce the game in-stadium, which is exciting and an honour.  You can expect the game to run for a couple of hours.  Afterwards, there will be an autograph session for fans.

The best news is that the forecast calls for sunshine and 27 degrees Celsius.  That's a welcome relief, since the Fan Day has been held in downpours for several years in the past.

4 - I don't know how it's going to play out this season, but the Roughriders are HUGE.  I've found myself standing beside some of them at the counter at the local Dairy Queen or at various spots on campus.  Chris Jones and John Murphy have assembled a crew of skyscrapers on this year's team.  It's not out of the ordinary for these players to be 6'5", 6'6" or 6'7".

5 - It would be great for CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge to do a cross-Canada tour of CFL training camps in this, his second season in charge.  Alas, we haven't heard much from the Commissioner lately.  In fact the Twitter account of the marketing whiz has been dormant since May 17.

6 - There have been no fights in this Roughrider training camp, which is a good sign.  However there was a skirmish - teetering on a brawl it seems - in Hamilton on Thursday at Ticats camp.  What's that a sign of?

7 - Chris Jones is not the highest-paid CFL management type in the CFL.  I'm told that honour belongs to Ticats boss Kent Austin.

8 - History could be made Saturday night in Saskatoon when the Saskatchewan Rush host the Buffalo Bandits in Game 2 of the NLL's best-of-three Champions Cup.  A Rush victory Saturday night will clinch the championship on home soil and I'm glad to have been able to purchase a pair of tickets.  This city will be on fire Saturday night if the Rush bring it home, and raise a banner to the SaskTel Centre rafters.

9 - Observers at training camp have been asking what's going on at other training camps.  From what I've read, they're marveling in Winnipeg at the work ethics of Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith.  (Nothing new there).  Meanwhile in Edmonton, Chris Getzlaf has been performing at top efficiency and both he and the Eskimos expect him to play a major role in their offense this season.

10 - I've been waiting six months to get exactly in this spot right here:  Focusing 100% on the Roughriders with only a casual interest in the NHL and NBA Playoffs and the goings-on of the Toronto Blue Jays.  However Thursday provided eyebrow-raising news out of the MLB when it was reported pending free agents Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are eyeing Boston as a potential landing spot next season.  However Sportsnet's Arash Madani told on Thursday's SportsCage that it's far too early for speculation on that matter.  Still, it would be hard to fathom those two in Red Sox uniforms.

Also, wish I'd known Leafs coach Mike Babcock was getting get an honourary degree at Thursday's U of S convocation ceremony. It was right across the street from my hotel at TCU Place. It sounds like he gave a moving address.