- If anyone in downtown Vancouver didn't know the Saskatchewan Roughriders are coming to town on Sunday, they will after seeing this billboard situated between B.C. Place and Rogers Arena. The Roughriders purchased the space and it's got people talking all over the Lower Mainland, not to mention across the CFL. The fact a Vancouver newspaper ran a photo of it is exactly what the Rider marketers were hoping for. Genius!
It certainly is a brash, in-your-face, type of move which the Riders aren’t historically known for but it’s also a tongue-in-cheek, fun, rivalry type of thing. The Lions poked a lot of stuff at the Riders this winter on Twitter, but no one remembers. We do.
The billboard seemed to work Lions President and CEO Dennis Skulsky into a frenzy, prompting him to proclaim Sunday’s game “Guaranteed Win Night” for the Lions. Did he pass this by GM Wally Buono and Head Coach Mike Benevides? It doesn’t seem so, but who knows?
As one CFL observer noted on Thursday, “The negatives far outweigh the positives with something like this.” Regardless, Sportsnet’s Arash Madani said on Thursday’s SportsCage on 620 CKRM, “This is going to make a fun three days ahead!”
Guaranteed Win Night, as near as I can tell, originated in Regina by former Regina Pats voice and marketing director Kevin Gallant in the 1980s. It wasn’t popular with Pats coach Doug Sauter at the time. Kevin went on to become the voice of the Calgary Stampeders and ran the same promotion at McMahon Stadium which, as Kevin told me Thursday, “Was the first of its kind in pro sports and it was my idea”. I believe that to be the case. As for Skulsky’s proclamation, Gallant wrote to me, “I am sure Wally is behind this.”
The other big news in the CFL this week was Commissioner Mark Cohon announcing this will be his final season in the role and he won’t seek a third term. It’s not a shock since he left his last contract open-ended, with the option to renew being his. All in all the Cohon Era has to be viewed as a success even though I wasn’t a big fan of the new TV deal. I would’ve liked to have seen the games be spread across Sportsnet and CBC as well (since those networks virtually ignore the CFL now) but I don’t think Cohon would do anything different given the money on the table at the time. A tip of the cap to Mark. He’s a cool guy and he’ll be missed.
The forecast for Sunday’s Roughrider-Lions game in Vancouver (5:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network) calls for sunshine and 23 degrees Celsius.
The (5-3) B.C. Lions are favoured by 2.5-points over the (5-2) Saskatchewan Roughriders and the over/under has been set at 50 points. The Lions beat the Riders 26-13 in Week 3 in Regina in their only other meeting. The Riders haven’t lost since.
Roughrider DE John Chick is off to the single-greatest start in CFL history by a rush end. His 12 sacks through seven games have him on pace for 31 this season which would shatter James “Quick” Parker’s single-season record of 26.5 set in 1984. The torrid start by John actually has him at 1.71 Sacks Per Game which is ahead James Curry’s record set in 1984 of 1.69 SPG. Keep in mind that both Parker’s and Curry’s records were set during a 16-game regular season.
Chick is off to such an amazing start that even the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive front was shown film on him by their coordinator Gary Etcheverry this week. Chick played in Etch’s system in 2009 and thrived, winning CFL Defensive Player of the Year.
A defensive player has not won CFL MVP since Hal Patterson of the Montreal Alouettes in 1956 so don’t hold your breath for Chick to win it this year, however he’s the early favourite to collect Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
- Roughrider QB Darian Durant goes into the weekend needing 30 passing yards to move past Roy Dewalt into the CFL’s Top 20 all-time passers. He’s also 476 behind the great Russ Jackson for #18 all-time.
B.C. Lions kicker Paul McCallum has currently connected on 16 consecutive field goals and his 95.5% percentage has him on pace to set a CFL single season record in that area. McCallum has moved into third-place in all-time CFL scoring and is now only 55 points back of Mark McLoughlin for #2. Paul is headed to the Hall of Fame for sure.
Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is in some esteemed company. He is 9-1 as a starter to begin his career and the only others to do that in CFL history are Jackie Parker, Joe Theismann and Jim Van Pelt!
Week 9 in the CFL opens Friday with Montreal at Winnipeg at 6:00 pm on TSN. Alouettes quarterback Alex Brink is 3-5 as a starter but 0-3 on the road including last week’s 16-11 loss at Saskatchewan. The Bombers have won five of their last six with Montreal.
- Heard a wild rumour Thursday evening that Alouettes receiver S.J. Green may be a Roughrider within the next week. I have not confirmed that with the Riders however. It seems to just be crazy gossip born out of the fact the Alouettes spent the week here after the game.
- Bomber CB Matt Bucknor is the leading tackler among Canadians in the CFL with 35 … The Bombers are the only team in the CFL to commit at least two turnovers in every game this year … The Riders haven’t committed one the past two games.
- Montreal may suck right now but they’re still the strongest franchise in the CFL since their relocation from Baltimore in 1996. They top the league at 206-124-1 in that span. B.C. is #2 in the league since '96.
Around the league, Henry Burris will start his 194th career game Sunday when his Ottawa RedBlacks host Calgary. That moves him past Danny McManus into #4 all-time … Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray is just 367 yards away from 50,000 career and he fittingly goes after it in Edmonton on Saturday, the city where he enjoyed his finest years. He’s still quite good now.
There have been 42 Coach’s Challenges this season and of those, 14 plays have been overturned.[/b]
Penalties are up 26% this year but last week’s Week 8 was the least-penalized of this season. Perhaps the refs are getting the message that we’re sick of the flags.
- There have been 10 two-point convert attempts this season but NONE have been successful. Perhaps Als coach Tom Higgins was onto something when he didn’t go for two last weekend.
- And NO CFL season has ever had all five West Division teams finish above .500.
- Rider Hall of Famer Vic Stevenson said we should get used to the imbalance in the CFL amongst the West and East Divisions. “This could go on for years,” Vic said on In The Huddle this week on Access. “It did in the 80’s!” Incidentally both Vic and former teammate Marshall Hamilton said they’d vote “no” for division realignment for the playoffs. I would vote “no” as well.
Vic, a three-time Grey Cup champion, had the Quote of the Week when referring to the BC-Toronto game in which both teams wore their Reebok Signature third jerseys on Sunday. “It looked like Toronto’s Pride Week against the Hell’s Angels,” Vic quipped, referring to the powder blue Argo uniforms and the tar-black Lions outfits. The more these new uniforms get rolled out, the more they get the thumbs-down.
The smoke had barely cleared after Frank McCrystal’s announcement this week that the 2014 CIS season will be his last as coach of the U of R Rams before people started talking about his replacement. A Rams alum noted to me Thursday in Gold’s Gym that Paul LaPolice is already lined up to coach in 2015. I can assure you that’s not the case. However many people feel the next coach of the Rams will come with a CFL resume.
Let’s just celebrate the 2014 Rams season and relish in the fact Frank boasts seven national titles during his time at the helm of “The Horns”.
University football pundits are also wondering how long it will be before Scott Flory assumes control of the U of S Huskies program. Rumours are rampant.
Friday marks Day 2 of Regina Pats 2014 training camp at the Cooperators Centre. Many hockey people have wondered why new Pats coach John Paddock would opt to ride the buses of the WHL at the age of 60 and with virtually nothing left to prove. After all he’s won five Calder Cup titles in the AHL and been the head coach of two NHL teams. When I posed the question to Paddock this week he said he was “intrigued” by the proposition of turning this franchise around and accepting the challenge. Many felt he gave the perfect answer.
Washington Capitals scout Darrell Baumgartner of Regina was the winner of a trip for two on our SportsCage/Marlin Travel Ultimate Sports Trip IV to LA, Anaheim and San Diego at the Press Box Sports Bar Golf Tournament Thursday evening. We’d be happy to welcome him aboard!
can't see SJ becoming a Rider...but wow.
Not happening. SJ is one of the few redeeming players left on the Als.
Well yes, but if they are saying F it...lets rebuild...then you explore options. Maybe you can squeeze a 1st and 5th round pick (I wouldn't pay it) but it might be worth it. Say Taj, 1st round, 5th round for Green and a 2nd or 3rd round...doable. I still wouldn't, but it is doable. Besides, they have skill there still...Carter is their future, and they have London doing great along with Deslauriers playing strong. With a real QB (Crompton) Johnson might actually be able to do something as well.
No way I would give up Taj and a 1st rounder for Green. Not sure if I would give up Taj for Green straight up. Yes the whole Taj incident is an issue but either they are going to give him his shot at redemption like they said or not. The only way I would go for the Taj for Green would be if Montreal threw in a 1st or second rd pick and that isn't likely to happen. I think its all smoke and no fire.
The real story here is what's going on in Vancouver right now.
Let's bullet this....
- Ridernation has a billboard AT the stadium dissing the Lions. You can see this billboard from many angles and it's in the newspaper. Thanks !
- Ridernation has the Commodore Ballroom booked for Sunday.
- Ridernation will march out of the Commodore and into BC Place basically overshadowing every aspect of the Lion's pregame stadium activities. (if you EVER have seen the the Vancouver Whitecaps march into the stadium every game, (amazing) I think this will be on par........not to mention we are the VISITORS)
- TEAM 1040 Vancouver Sports Radio poll on Friday night - "who's more annoying? Ridernation or Leafnation?" Leafs - 85% to Riders 15%. Why? Ridernation is HERE and they voted Leafs!!!
- Guaranteed WIN night. Holy CRAP! Bulletin boards got populated FAST after this on both sides....the hype is selling tickets.
- Riders bring a fan base uplift to EVERY stadium and hosts are just beginning to realize the value - let Ridernation do what they do.....it will make money for the host.
- Lions fans are sick of Ridernation.....the comments in the stands towards us are getting harsher and harsher every year and I've been to a game every year in the last 17 other than one, now two....see below. Sob.
- it's going to be crazy in that building.....
And from a personal perspective, since I live in BC, I JUST can't make it due to work but this will be THE game in BC Place this year until November.
I'd take Green over Taj in a heartbeat. Scandles aside, Taj still has his lazy streaks where he can't be bothered to put any extra effort into catching the ball. Green on the other hand has zero qualms about laying out for a catch.
That is a completely unfounded criticism. He catches in traffic, he catches in stride over shoulder, he catches jump balls and tip drills. He adjusts really well. In fact about the only thing he doesn't do is drop the ball.
I agree prairiedog and Taj is much younger and if he can get his personal life straightened out he could be a great receiver for us for years down the road. Green is good but he is starting to show his age and is banged up a bit still I think. So I stick with my comment that no way would I trade Green for Taj straight up. Riders would need a top one or two pick thrown in the deal. With Montreal most likely finishing near the bottom I can't see them wanting to trade their future away. So again I think its all smoke and mirrors and probably something the media started just for a headline if even that.
...or wishful thinking on Green's part
Taj is not young, 31.
Interesting that SJ Green comes up. While this arises..........Dressler is a FA, not yet but media already stated he is talking to multiple NFL and CFL teams.
Nice timing on all of this to emphasize that the Riders might be serious about a inside receive opposite Getz? We'd like it to be Dressler but if it isn't........we're serious about landing someone.
No trade will happen until Dressler is sorted out. The Riders will focus on landing him. If they get him no need to trade for anyone. If they don't.........re-assess and see.
SJ Green. Older veteran import receiver. Not worth first or 2nd round draft choices. For Taj Smith.........do it. Taj dropped one last week and dropped one yesterday. Receivers are expected to catch in traffic, that is part of the job, don't pat him on the back for doing things he is supposed to do. If Taj was 25 I might think different.
Unfounded? LOL Watch any of his games.
Don't even go there pal..
I don't see how you could have. Every other receiver on the Riders since Taj has been on the team will layout, sometimes multiple times a game, for a pass. Taj will not layout for one. If it is slightly out of his reach and means he will not land on his feet if he catches it, he pulls up. I've seen and edited every single game since 2007 got bluray archival (making it a minimum viewing of at least 3 times) and it is something that jumps out and glares at you. I could probably put together a good 7-8 minute video of Taj pulling up when ever the ball was thrown were he would have to dive for it.
I tend to agree. Taj can be money, but I have been speculative on him since day 1 where he stopped (literally) moving in the endzone and was initially cut over it. Had he moved to the open field the Riders win that preseason game. Still a crazy talented guy, but I do question his drive at times.
We're talking about the guy who made the awesome adjustment for that huge bomb in Toronto last year. We're talking about the stupid sick concentration catch in the playoffs against BC last year. If the Riders weren't at or near the bottom of the league in pass attempts right now he'd be back on the highlight reel. I've seen him make every kind of catch and he's never afraid to take a hit in traffic for a catch. The original comment was that he was lazy. Unless you watch practice regularly and tell me that he drags his ass around, you can't say that he's lazy. But the original comment said that he was lazy because he won't lay out for a catch - ie he's lazy IN GAMES. I just won't hear that. That's baloney.
Huh? Taj is older.
Taj Born: September 30, 1983
SJ Green: 1985-06-20
Nobody has said he has no skill, but he has given up on a lot of plays...no way around that. I still like Taj and all, and see him as a great asset, but he could definitely be upgraded at some point.
Yup and all those catches were thrown within his reach while standing up. He's good at hand battling a defender but where he has to hit the ground it seems like he thinks it isn't his effort. As far as the:
If the Riders weren't at or near the bottom of the league in pass attempts right now he'd be back on the highlight reel.Same could be said about any of our receivers that had enough throws to them. Why is Bagg having a good year? Because DD finally remembered he had him. Heck Ryan Smith could be a league leader too if DD would start throwing to him more.
I just won't hear that. That's baloney.Green shades. You also see his lack of effort in practices and training camp (in contrast to say Dressler who ran to the start of every drill like a kid who had to be first).