THIS IS IT
1 - Taylor Field/Mosaic Stadium will play host to its 611th Roughrider home game on Saturday against the B.C. Lions. It will also be ... its last.
No stadium in Canadian history has played host to more pro football games than the Grand Ol' Lady, and that's why we're making such a big deal out of it. Similar to Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum, Taylor Field fits right in there with the greats of Canadian sports lore.
It's made you laugh, cry, get angry, but also feel better than you ever have. How will we feel come Saturday evening around 8:00 when it's all over? I've got an idea.
2 - It's too bad the game doesn't mean more than it does, which is almost nothing. The Riders are out of the playoff chase and the best they can hope to do is play spoiler against a 10-6 Lions club which is striving for a 2nd place finish in the CFL West
If it were the Riders challenging for a home playoff game, we'd be going out of our minds right now.
Instead, this game is really all about the stadium. Whether the Riders win or not is really inconsequential.
The players have spoken in recent weeks about how hard and worn out the turf has become. The football staff has mentioned the ceilings in their offices are like "Swiss Cheese" and the front office staff said they can't wait to take a bulldozer to the place.
Let's be honest, when you look at the jaw-dropping New Mosaic Stadium across the street, it's like going from Bea Arthur to Megan Fox.
In 10 days, a bold new "big league" era will begin for the Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club.
4 - But first, Saturday's game. The forecast for late-afternoon on Saturday has changed three times as the week has progressed but the latest calls for clouds and 6 degrees. At one point on Wednesday Environment Canada was predicting a chance of sunshine. I expect it'll change again before kickoff.
The Lions are favoured by 3-points by Bodog.
5 - The Riders are 8-for-8 winning coin tosses at home this year. Maybe the football gods are in fact Rider fans after all. Here's hoping come Saturday, Mother Nature is too.
6 - Two CFL types asked this week what it is about Chris Jones that has evoked such fierce loyalty from his coaching staff and players? I don't know because I'm not in the offices so I put it to Offensive Coordinator Stephen McAdoo on CKRM's Coaches Show on Wednesday. "Trust," McAdoo said immediately. "And Chris always, always has your back."
Apparently that's rare in pro football.
7 - Pretty soon we'll be voting on the league's Most Outstanding Players but many are predicting Calgary quarterback Bo-Levi Mitchell will romp to a unanimous vote as MVP. The more interesting vote is for Coach of the Year. It's hard to go against Dave Dickenson, but Mike O'Shea and Wally Buono will garner some votes as well.
8 - CKRM's Luc Mullinder is touting Winnipeg kicker Justin Medlock to be named the CFL's 2016 Most Outstanding Player. Medlock was 7/7 in the Bombers' last game and is just five points shy of the Bomber record of 213 set by Troy Westwood in 1994. And his 55 field goals are only four off the league record set by Dave Ridgway in 1990.
9 - Interesting observation from longtime Lions colour commentator Giulio Caravatta - a former Lions quarterback and punter - on the SportsCage on 620 CKRM on Wednesday. Wally Buono returned to the sidelines and took a 7-11 club to a potential home playoff game. However he can't coach forever, and at some point there needs to be a succession plan.
Caravatta figures that when Buono decides to hang it up for good, he'll have to retire as General Manager too. There was just too much pressure on Mike Benevides and Jeff Tedford with Buono looking over their shoulders as GM. When it's time to look ahead, Caravatta figures it'll have to be a clean sweep. The question remains: when will that be?
10 - Speaking of votes, congratulations to Michael Fougere on being re-elected as Regina's Mayor on Wednesday!
11 - Count former NFL V.P. of Officiating Mike Pereira as one who thinks the NFL should follow the CFL's lead and institute video replay on Pass Interference. The NFL on Fox rules analyst said this week that Pass Interference is the most difficult call to make in football and that the NFL should make use of any tools which are available. Pereira even brought up last year's Grey Cup in which Edmonton won a championship based on an overturned P-I non call.
My biggest fear is that this year's Grey Cup will be decided on a judgment call and left up to the Command Centre to determine who wins the championship.
12 - A Regina football referee texted into the SportsCage on Monday regarding the non-call on the helmet-to-helmet hit by Montreal's Winston Venable on Saskatchewan's Joe McKnight. While Chris Jones repeated this week that he felt it was an illegal hit, the referee suggested it was a borderline call and that the official was correctly focused on McKnight's feet rather than his head. It supports the argument that the games should be left up to the on-field officials, and not decided in the replay booth.
13 - A huge congratulations to former Regina Pats captain Chris Schlenker for refereeing his first NHL game this week between Montreal and Philadelphia at the Bell Centre! From what I've seen, there were no complaints about the job he did.
Hockey folk think Schlenker's background as a city police officer in Medicine Hat has prepared him adequately for his NHL career. An on-ice squabble is small potatoes compared to a domestic violence squabble.
14 - The most-watched sports program on Canadian television last week was Hockey Night In Canada with 1.9-million viewers. The top-rated CFL game was Hamilton-Ottawa which drew 617,000 English viewers, and placed #8 overall. The Alouettes-Roughriders game was the CFL's lowest-rated game of the week with 420,000 viewers.
Why do we pay so much attention to TV ratings? Because it's the best indicator of what Canada's sports fans are paying the most attention to.
15 - Two things to watch in the CFL this weekend: 1) Calgary receiver Davaris Daniels needs 151 yards to reach 1,000 on the season and it would set a CFL record for taking the fewest games to do it (11) by a rookie and 2) You've got to give Montreal receiver Nik Lewis his due. He's got 965 career receptions and is just one behind Allen Pitts for #5 all-time. Lewis is only seven catches behind Darren Flutie for #4.
16 - The World Series is down to a Best-of-5 after the Cubs earned a split in Cleveland, and the series now shifts to Wrigley Field. It has not been must-see TV for me. I opted for my niece's hockey game at the Cooperators Centre Wednesday evening.
17 - The CHL Top 10 weekly rankings came out on Wednesday and the Regina Pats (9-0-3) remained #2 in the nation. The Shawinigan Cataractes (11-1-0) are #1, but the Pats remain the only team in Canada without a regulation loss. It seems the Pats should be #1, but the rankings are assigned by a panel of esteemed NHL scouts. They know better than this blogger.
18 - SportsCage co-host Derek Meyers asked me if I thought goaltender Tyler Brown has what it takes to lead Regina to the Memorial Cup. My answer was, why not? He got them to Game 7 in last year's Conference Semifinal, and it was the offense which stalled in a 2-1 loss.
It was astonishing that Brown wasn't drafted last year but with scouts flocking to see the Pats this season, he'll hear his name called next summer if he does what he's capable of.
On CKRM this week, Brown pointed to teammate Adam Brooks who was passed over multiple times in the NHL Draft but went on to lead the WHL in scoring and eventually be drafted by Toronto.
19 - Speaking of Brooks, it was heartening to know that Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock sent the 20-year old back to junior for the opportunity to play under John Paddock and compete for a Memorial Cup.
The Pats finally have the program we've longed for for decades. Your next chance to watch them is Sunday afternoon at 4:00 when they host the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Incidentally, CONGRATS to Tri-City coach Mike "Willy" Williamson who notched his 500th career WHL victory this week. He joins Ken Hodge, Lorne Molleken, Don Hay, Ernie McLean, Pat Ginnell and Don Nachbaur in the 500 club.
20 - To make it an even 20 observations, how could the oddsmakers possibly have installed the Washington Capitals as 1.5-goal favourites in Edmonton Wednesday evening? The Oilers routed the Caps 4-1 for a conference-best 6-1 record and they look like a very sound hockey team. Coach Todd McLellan is the first coach in a decade to get them to play defense. You can't get to their net without a tank.
It's unlikely they're doubting the Taylor Hall trade for a second, even if Hall's five goals account for one half of the New Jersey Devils' offense.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! SEE YOU ON THE RADIO ...