--Happy New Year everyone! Here's hoping you didn't do anything radically stupid to end your 2015 as a new year is upon us. It will be a monumental year in Rider Nation as that little jewel on Elphinstone Street will be ready for usage. While the Riders will not officially move into their new digs until the start of the 2017 season, it will be incredible when the doors finally open for the first event of the new Mosaic. What will that event be? I have heard many things from a Rams game to a rock concert. Who knows, but we eagerly await the arrival of the new Mosaic and what it has to offer while enjoying one last season of football at the old Mosaic.
--Should John Chick be worried about his future with the Riders? Number 97 appeared on the Sportscage with Luc Mullinder and myself on Tuesday as he promoted his new venture--JC Crossfit. I asked John about his thoughts over what had transpired in the month of December, and he said what many of us have. That is the organization from Craig Reynolds right down to the fans deserved better than 3-15, and he is excited at the direction they are going with him hoping to be a part of it. While that sentence didn't catch me completely off guard, I was caught off guard when Chick said he hasn't spoken to Chris Jones yet. I would have thought that would have happened shortly after Jones took the job over. I think John did too. Yes, Chick is getting up there in age as he is and will be 33 when training camp starts, but there is still some gas in that tank. Does Jones want Chick to empty that tank out in Saskatchewan? The Rider Nation hopes the answer is yes, but methinks Big John might be a little worried about his football future in Saskatchewan.
--Did anyone notice over the holidays when both TSN and Sportsnet were running their plays of the year that TSN had something Sportsnet didn't and that was CFL highlights. TSN's top 100 plays had several CFL installments in them including the Chad Owens one handed catch in Ottawa, Ryan Smith climbing the ladder to make a catch at Mosaic against the Argos and the memorable Greg Ellingson TD in the Eastern final. What did Sportsnet have? Zilch, zippo, zero!
The argument was made why should Sportsnet publicize the CFL when they don't own the rights. That is a valid statement, yet Sportsnet is telling listeners to go online for World Junior Hockey Coverage and there are highlights on Connected and Sportsnet doesn't have the rights for that event. Say what you will, but the CFL still struggles for legitimacy in its own country with a major sports network---a major sports network which likely has no interest in being involved with the CFL for many years because of their massive NHL contract.
The CFL is not in a good spot right now and needs to find ways to get Canadians invested in the game again. TV numbers are down, attendance is down, the interest is dwindling for various reasons. Steps need to be taken and a new logo won't do the trick. Luc suggested TSN needs to do a better job of promoting its property and treat the CFL the way it does the World Juniors and other events it has. I can't argue with him on that. TSN does a good job with the CFL, but they could do so much more.
Does Jeffrey Orridge have a desire to sit down with TSN and Sportsnet brass to discuss this or not? He should if you ask me.
--CFL.ca Canadian college draft expert Justin Dunk informed the CFL universe of players to watch during US College Football bowl games and he gave Rider fans a little trinket by letting them know Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is on the Riders neg list. Mayfield will be an NFL quarterback in my opinion and will never ever set foot in Saskatchewan. If he does, he could be another Drew Tate as he seems to have the same demeanour as the former Iowa Hawkeye who now backs up Bo Levi Mitchell in Calgary. He's a little quirky, but he's awfully good too. I see him being a mid to late round pick in the NFL draft if he declares and comes out early. If not, he can come back next year with the thought being his Sooners could once again be in the national championship discussion. Mayfield's didn't look very good against Clemson though and Alabama proved all their doubters wrong (including me) by just beating up Michigan State. You would be hard pressed to think Alabama won't have the trophy in their hands late on the night of January 11.
--The annual slate of US Bowl games on New Year's Day weren't very dramatic, but if you watched the Rose Bowl you saw a huge game from Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. He might be the best college football player I have ever seen. His performance all year was special and whether he not he used the "didn't win the Heisman Trophy" card as motivation for his performance in Pasadena is not known, but Iowa simply didn't stand a chance.
--As we rang in 2016, CTV Regina had an E-talk special with Adele while Global Regina had the movie "Good Will Hunting" on. While other networks had special New Years programming whether it be Dick Clark's show or something else, Canada's main two TV networks just took a "MEH" approach to it all. Where was the Global Niagara Falls New Year's Eve show that has been on the past number of years.
--The 100th Grey Cup was on ESPN Classic over the holidays. The Argos won the game under head coach Scott Milanovich and assistants Chris Jones, Mike O'Shea and Jason Maas. It is safe to say that is one of the better coaching staffs we have seen in recent memory in the CFL as all four are now head coaches as you know.
--December 30 is a dark day in the world of hockey. It was on December 30, 1986 that the bus carrying the Swift Current Broncos to a game in Regina went off the highway near the city into the ditch and flipped over. Four players---Trent Kresse, Chris Mantyka, Brent Ruff and Scott Kruger were all killed. It was something no one could fathom and it is something that thankfully has not repeated itself on a Canadian highway. With all of the hockey teams and other teams that travel by bus, it says something about the bus drivers who get these kids/athletes to and from their destination safely. That effort can never ever be underestimated especially on a cold winter night when the snow is blowing across the highway and conditions are less than ideal. May we never, ever have another incident like what happened on that terrible December evening 29 years ago and may we never, ever forget the four young Broncos who had their lives and their careers ended way too soon.
--Week 17 NFL Lock of the Week --- Broncos over Chargers
--Week 17 NFL Upset of the Week -- Bills over Jets
--Did anyone in Regina get any money from Mark Zuckerberg. CMON PEOPLE!!! It amazed me how many people actually fell for that by posting it on Facebook, The old phrase "There's a sucker born every minute definitely holds true."
--With all apologies to the Toronto Blue Jays, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are "Canada's Team". The Blue Jays were Canada's team from July 1 on in 2015. When I stop seeing the /=S=/ being worn at events and places around the world, then I will consider it. I didn't see anyone wearing a Jays uniform at the World Juniors, but there was a guy sitting behind one of the benches with a Riders jersey on. I still don't and never will understand why people feel the need to wear the jersey at a sporting event that is not a football game, but whatever. It makes me want to wear a hockey jersey to a Riders game and see the strange look you would get from people as to why you would do that. It just reinforces how "unique" and passionate the fan-base is here.
--How are the Saskatchewan Rush going to fare? We will find out starting Saturday night when they play their first game against the Calgary Roughnecks in Calgary. I have heard nothing about ticket sales for this team. Are they good? The Rush have done a good job of getting the word out there so here is hoping Saskatoon and Saskatchewan fans support this team. I have never been to an NLL game, but people in Calgary and Edmonton have told me its a good time.
--Enjoy the day and the rest of the weekend!