1 - The days are getting longer. Figuratively anyway. As we attempt to squeeze out the final days of what's been the hottest summer in Saskatchewan in decades, the Roughriders are also struggling with a 1-6 record in the first year of the new Chris Jones Regime. Fans are past anxious and although the Green & White have shown incremental improvement on a weekly basis, it hasn't shown up in the win column just yet. If it's true the CFL season doesn't truly begin until Labour Day Weekend, sign me up.
2 - Of course, it's been a real wild week here in Riderville and our football club has gone toe-to-toe with the Brazil Olympics for airtime on TSN's Sportscentre. The whole country knows every move of Penny Oleksiak and Chris Jones.
Why all the fuss? Because the Roughriders have been slapped with fines totalling at least $80,000 for a ratio violation, roster violations, intro violation, uniform violation, and just about every other kind of violation they can dream up.
Quarterback Darian Durant smiled this week and said, "They're after us a little bit."
The Voice of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Marshall Ferguson told us on the SportsCage, "It looks like (Saskatchewan)'s been treated a little unfairly lately".
I would've thought Chris Jones would feel like a man underfire, the subject of a conspiracy, but TSN's Gary Lawless says that couldn't be more wrong.
"No he doesn't," Lawless told CKRM this week. "Absolutely not. Chris Jones is having a Coors Light right now and he's probably smilling. He's 'Victor Newman' in this. He's the bad hat. He's the villian. He revels in this. This is going to galvanize him, his staff and his team.
"You've been around him awhile now Rod. You see the way his staff and his players respond and react to him. This is playing into his hands. 'Us Against The World'. His group will love this. I don't know if Craig Reynolds will love paying the $80,000 though".
3 - More on team President Craig Reynolds in a minute but as far as the team coming together and using the "Everyone's Against Us" theme, I can clearly see that becoming the case. I heard a commentator on local radio this week saying that type of strategy can only work for a period of three or four games but even if that's true, that's really all the Riders need. A small win streak like that would catapult them into the West Division race and it might be the kickstart and confidence booster this young football team needs right now.
4 - And Jones is not giving off the vibe of someone being paranoid or feeling persecuted. Although it's clearly taken others from around the league to blow the whistle on some of Jones' tactics, he seems undaunted.
But not everyone in the Rider Nation is enamoured with Jones. Hall of Fame writer Graham Kelly of the Medicine Hat News - a self-professed member of the Rider Nation - says the Riders must fire Jones immediately for besmirching the good name of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Kelly says Jones wouldn't fit in with the Hugh Campbells, Bud Grants and Ralph Sazios of the world. (I maintain Hugh Campbell was the biggest rule-bender of all-time, but I digress).
Gary Lawless feels Graham Kelly's call for Jones' dismissal is preposterous.
"As much as Chris Jones has put his (butt) on the line, so too as Craig Reynolds," Lawless concluded. "If anyone is under the misconception that Chris Jones is in trouble, that his job is in trouble in Saskatchewan, wake up! Chris Jones isn't going anywhere. Craig Reynolds has put his reputation as a young President on the line. He needs Chris Jones to work.
"He's going to give Chris Jones every opportunity and resource to work. If Chris Jones fails, it's a huge black mark against Craig Reynolds and he doesn't want that."
Chris Jones isn't hurting the brand. A record of 6-27 over the past 33 games is.
However the Dave Naylor Twitter report on Thursday that defensive tackle Brian Bulcke would rather be released by the Toronto Argonauts than traded to Saskatchewan - reportedly because the Roughriders aren't a contender - is troubling to say the least.
Maybe though, it says more about Bulcke than it does about the Saskatchewan football team.
5 - Under Jones, this will work. However at 1-6, CFL fans across the country are lining up to kick Jones and the Roughriders while they're down. It's not a good feeling, but I'm keeping track of every single slight for when the sun once again shines on the Wheat Province. If there's one thing we've learned in this league, there's an ebb and there's a flow.
Jones said on multiple occasions after Saturday's 19-10 loss to Calgary that, "When we're rolling here, it's going to be great". That should make Rider fans smile and rub their hands together. The only question is, 'How long will it take?'
To that, no one has an answer. However Rider defensive line coach Ed Philion - who was on Chris Jones' Grey Cup-winning staff with the Eskimos last year - said it will come.
"I'm optimistic," Philion said. "Number 1, because I know how hard we work as a coaching staff and what a great communicator Chris is to the players. I played for him for five years as a player and been coaching with him for four years, and him knowing the pulse of his team and being a communicator is his greatest strength.
"And Number 2, if guys aren't buying in at any point, we'll find guys that will. We're not afraid of that. But we would certainly love to have the guys that we have now be a part of the success that we're going to have. We're going through some tough times right now and trying to figure out how to win football games. That's not an easy thing to do. If it was easy, everybody would do it.
"Once we get a little taste of it, and figure out what we need to do to be successful on a week-to-week basis, I think we'll be a good football team. It's just a matter of getting to that point and making sure we have the right guys to do it."
"You know it's not that big of a deal honestly," Craig shrugged on Thursday. "It happens all the time. There was a lot of stuff on the table in that game, a lot of stuff went on before, and so I think that's frustration showing its head a little bit. Dave understands that and Chris understands that. They were good friends before and I don't see that changing. It's kind of like family members. Sometimes you get in arguments, say things you wish you hadn't, and you move on.
"I got enough problems Rod! Haha! I don't need to be getting involved in that. I gotta get our team playing better. I have enough on my plate."
7 - Roughriders fullback Spencer Moore is a Hamilton product and is in his 4th season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The McMaster University product figures to have 45 friends and family in attendance at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday when the Riders visit the Ticats.
Twice this year Moore's been tabbed as the Special Teams Player of the Game by Craig Dickenson and it's something he's proud of.
"It's a Special Teams thing and Coach Dickenson gives you a Rider mug and a gift card to a local restaurant," Moore explained. "I got that twice and it's tough because we haven't won those games but I've been just trying to do whatever I can on Offense and Special Teams to help our team achieve its ultimate goal. I've been rewarded but big picture, there's plenty to look forward to."
8 - Rider quarterback Darian Durant is excited to lineup against long-time friend John Chick on Saturday, who's now leading the Hamilton defense. Durant says the pair has had several 'What If' conversations over the years and come Saturday, they'll finally be able to go up against each other for real.
"When we were at practice he'd say 'That was a sack!' or if I was rolling out, he'd say 'I got you' but I let him know it's a whole other ballgame trying to sack me," Durant smiled on Thursday. "It's going to be fun and hopefully he doesn't get too close to me. I'm not scared of anyone or anything, but he's definitely a good player."
9 - Ticats defensive end John Chick is as classy as they come, but he was biting his lip somewhat when discussing facing the Roughriders for the first time since the club released him this winter.
"There hasn't been a ton of emotion during the week," Chick told Ticats TV on Thursday. "You definitely know you're going against a team that didn't want you anymore, and all those things that are going on, but right now as a Ticat and where I'm at, this is the next game that we got. We're coming off two losses and we need to right the ship. It's not so much that it's a revenge game but I'll have fun showing them why they should've kept John Chick around.
"I'm a firm believer in faith and belief in God that He works in mysterious ways. As wrong as they may have been in their things, hey, God made it right and I'm right where I'm supposed to be. It's been a great journey and I see our team in that upward direction."
10 - The forecast for the game Saturday in Hamilton calls for thundershowers and 29 degrees Celsius. The Ticats are 1-point favourites.