You may be surprised to know that I feel Orridge got this one right. For the most part anyway. I predicted Austin would be slapped with a $7,500 fine given the fact he's a repeat offender (see last year's $5,000 fine for contacting the Argonauts' Dave Stala), but in no way did I think he'd be suspended and that's basically what went down on Wednesday.
Unfortunately this all boiled down to a "no-win" situation for the Commissioner, but it showed he's trying.
I'm told it'll take a lot for Orridge not to at least finish out his three-year contract and he's come off the mat swinging.
2 - This was a "no-win" deal for Orridge because not everyone agrees with Austin's punishment. TSN's Mathew Scianitti called it "harsh and unfair" on CKRM's SportsCage on Wednesday, while TSN's Gary Lawless labelled the discipline as "ineffective"! You can't get more opposite than that.
Perhaps the roughest criticism came from the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones who Tweeted:
"The move by CFL Commish defines him. No suspension for Austin. Removed from the sidelines but can coach from the booth. Does everything half way."
It doesn't help Orridge's case that the CFL bylaws have no clear-cut rule for a coach contacting a referee. That is mind-boggling, and certainly not Orridge's fault.
3 - One thing the CFL head office can't continue to do is try to compare NFL vs CFL TV ratings (which they've done via Twitter), therefore perpetuating a competition between the two leagues in Canada. That is a battle we won't win. All we can do now is tweak the rules, improve the on-field product, market our game far better and let Canadian football fans decide for themselves which league they'd prefer to watch. CFL games on Sunday afternoons in the fall certainly don't help matters either.
4 - We also can't let the NFL continue to eat our lunch, or we should at least fight fire with fire. Former Rider Stu Foord was in his hometown of Regina last week - visiting from Kelowna - and reported that the Seattle Seahawks routinely offer a fanbus from Kelowna for home games. That's a 10-hour roundtrip drive, not including the game, and it habitually sells out. That's a punch-to-the-gut for the B.C. Lions who are struggling at the gate this season.
5 - There's one thing the Saskatchewan Roughriders can hang their hat on this dismal season: they're going to lead the CFL in attendance for just the second time in history. Other teams have scoffed saying, "That's because of your Farewell Season" and to that I say, "So what?"
Once again, take a bow Rider Nation.
It should also be noted that CFL attendance is up 13% across the league from 2015.
6 - Calgary's Dave Dickenson is on the verge of setting another CFL record. Dave's 11 wins in his rookie season as head coach are two off the CFL record set by Adam Rita (Toronto, 1991), John Hufnagel (Calgary, 2008) and Mike Benevides (B.C., 2012). You go Dave! The 2016 Grey Cup is Calgary's to win.
7 - Jacques Chapdelaine will make his CFL head coaching debut for Montreal this Sunday when the Alouettes host Toronto. It's the 59th in-season coaching change in CFL history and the new coaches are 27-31 all-time in their first game.
The rumour I'm getting out of Montreal is that Anthony Calvillo will be the Als' head coach next season even if he's not entirely ready. There apparently are two reasons for this: 1) Calvillo's the popular choice as a fan favourite in Montreal and 2) Defensive Coordinator Noel Thorpe would've been in line for the job but he fell out of favour after trying to bolt for Edmonton in the off-season.
My take is that if anyone can turn around the woeful Alouettes, it's A.C.
|Jefferson on Wednesday|
8 - The addition of defensive end Willie Jefferson by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Wednesday cannot be overstated. For a club languishing last in sacks in 2016, Jefferson will provide a huge shot-in-the-arm. The Riders have some holes in their roster as evidenced by their 3-10 record, but Jefferson can patch up more than a few rough spots.
He's also unselfish, and doesn't mind the rotation on the defensive line which Chris Jones likes to employ.
Kudos to Jones too, for out-recruiting Eskimo GM Ed Hervey for Jefferson's services.
9 - The last-minute nature of Regina-and-area sports fans is coming back to bite them in the butt this week. They're clamouring for seats for this Saturday's U of R Rams-U of S Huskies clash at New Mosaic Stadium but it's a case of "You Snooze, You Lose". The 16,500 allotted seats have been sold out for a month and it doesn't appear that more sections will be opened up by the City of Regina. If you were left without, you'll have to tune into our television broadcast on Access/Shaw or listen on 620 CKRM.
10 - The lack of buzz around the World Cup of Hockey final is perplexing since Canadian hockey fans got exactly what they wanted. TSN's James Duthie mentioned the empty seats in Air Canada Centre at Tuesday's Game 1 of the best-of-3 final while my friend Zig Fracassi of Sirius NFL Radio noted how quiet the atmosphere was. He drove up from New York for the game.
Let me see, we opened the doors of the NHL to the rest of the world to "grow the game" and fill out expansion team rosters, and now the mystique of international players is gone. Still, Canada is romping to the title seemingly untouched in this tournament but no one seems to give a damn.
The analysts on Sirius NHL Radio were saying on Wednesday that the NHL over-estimated the appetite for hockey in Canada in September and are now scratching their heads.
Hopefully we don't have to wait another 12 years for another World Cup of Hockey but when it returns, here's hoping there are several tweaks to the format and schedule.
THAT'S IT! BE WELL ...