He only had one problem. Joe Paopao never figured out how to win.
Fast forward to today and we stare at Mike Benevides, believed to be on the Riders radar to run the new defense under incoming Head Coach Craig Dickenson. We’re hearing much of the same thing about Benevides as we did Paopao (other than the athlete part). Problem is, like with the Throwin’ Samoan (Paopao’s nickname when he QB’d the Roughriders 30 some years ago), Benevides hasn’t figured out how to win either.
Sure, he won a Grey Cup in B.C. running Wally Buono’s defense in 2011, but seriously, how much of it was really his defense? And the Leos steadily regressed in his 3 seasons as head coach thereafter. Plus, his units in Edmonton consistently underwhelmed during his time there.
Pro football is all about finding those who can “Just Win Baby” and so far, Mike Benevides has yet to prove he can be a difference maker for anyone.
2. ROUGHRIDERS SHOULD PRORITIZE REILLY OVER JEFFERSON: Jason Shivers sounds like the players' choice to take over the Chris Jones built defense in 2019, and that’s probably a good thing if they want Willie Jefferson back. But make no mistake, Jefferson was a lot more loyal to staying in Saskatchewan the day coach Jones said he was staying than he is now that ‘Don Matthews Jr’ has packed up and left town.
At first Jefferson appeared lukewarm to an NFL tryout. Now he sounds ready to jump at the first chance to head south. Getting him back seems like an iffy proposition at best.
Precisely why the Roughriders should allocate money needed to keep Jefferson toward beefing up an offer for one Mr. Mike Reilly. That fedora being spotted in the queen city is the only possibility that would be enough to make everyone forget all about Chris Jones.
It would be a lift to have Willie back, but I’m not holding my breath. And neither should you or the Riders.
3. CANADIAN QB RATIO NEEDS SETTLING NOW: Michael Ball had a terrific rant on the Sports Cage last week about the ridiculous setup of the CFL’s quarterback ratio. Many of you already know this but some of you don’t: Quarterbacks are completely exempt from the import ratio. Not only does the Canadian Football League not promote Canadian quarterbacks, they actually discourage it. Any good Canadian prospect is immediately looked to for relief when it comes to the ratio. Hence the reason quarterbacks like LuiPassaglia, Gerry Dattilio, Giulio Caravatta and Brad Sinopoli were all converted to other positions.
Former CFL GM’s Danny Maciocia and now Brendan Taman have gone on record as saying this needs to be corrected in a big way. This isn’t rocket science, guys. Get it right.
4. NEW VOICE OF THE RIDERS SHOULD BE: Michael Ball. Where else are they going to find somebody with more football broadcasting experience who actually understands the nuances of Regina and Saskatchewan?
5. ALOUETTES NEW LOGO: Looks phenomenal! Very 21st century and original. I’ve always said Montrealers will buy in to something that looks good. Now they finally have it. And yes, logos/uniforms do matter.
6. MANZIEL SENDS ALARMING SIGNAL: The Alouettes franchise face missed the glitzy launch party of said new logo. Not acceptable, pal. Not by a longshot. Mike Sherman won’t put up with that if it keeps happening. Snap out of it, Johnny or you will be finished. Like, for realzies this time.
7. THE SUPER BOWL WAS A GOOD REMINDER OF: Why the CFL is a superior game played with some inferior athletes. A rouge, wider field and 20-second play-clock would have made that game much more watchable. Many of us complained about the last Grey Cup being a bore. That Super Bowl was much,much worse.
8. BEST PART OF SUPER BOWL: Being waited on hand and foot by Mike Abou-Mechrek. Seriously, if you want to be fed chicken wings, nachos and pizza right to your seat, get a Super Bowl party ticket to that guy’s place.
9. WINNIPEG ICE A DUMB IDEA: Nothing like waiting until Winnipeg has an NHL team to move back in. I give this ridiculous idea 5 years max before it goes belly-up. And then the Edmonton/Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice will be on the move again. #whynotminot?
10. DWAYNE KOCOY: Great catching up with Calgary Hitmen broadcaster Brad Curle over some pregame popcorn at the Brandt Centre last week. Guy would easily be a top-10 narrator in the NHL if the geniuses who make those decisions opened their eyes.
But what occurred to me more than anything was a thought about my first real boss in radio, Dwayne Kocoy, the old News/Sports director at CJSL radio in Estevan.
Before settling on me to staff the newsroom in the early 2000’s, Dwayne once hired Curle, Rob Kerr (did Calgary Flames TV a few years back), Michael Ball and Nolan Haukness (of Fort Murray broadcast fame). No-one batts .1000 and neither did Dwayne but hot damn did he have an eye for talent.
Before he hired me.
(Follow Brendan on Twitter at @brendanhowardmc)