Monday, November 27, 2023

15th Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Before we officially turn the page on the 2023 season, its time for the annual event where we honour the best and worst (mostly worst) of the CFL season with the Rider Prophet Awards. What they lack in mainstream credibility they make up for in brutal honesty and TV air time on par with the actual CFL Awards.

This year’s award winners receive a case of blue and gold confetti which the CFL has been trying but just can’t find a use for.

Let’s get to the awards.

Best Player Name

I really wondered whether or not to make this player eligible for this award since he didn’t even make it through training camp… but then I remembered this is a made up award and its stupid to try and uphold the integrity of awards criteria I make up on the spot.

So La'Akea Kaho'ohanohano-Davis is the winner. By Hawaiian standards that’s a fairly normal name I’m sure. But by Canadian standards we would have had to put a nameplate extender on his jersey and take out a loan just to afford to stitch all the letters on there.

 Previous Winners: Diego Allatore-Montoya, Luther Hakunavanhu, Guillermo Villabos, Armegedon Draughns, Rakeem Cox, Akawasi Owusu-Ansah, Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha


Quote of the Year

For the second year in a row the quote of the year goes to now ex-Rider Coach, Craig Dickenson. This time he wins for:

“It’s a different vibe this year, We may have the same record but I feel like we’ve got better dudes in that locker room.”

He said this as the Riders were 6-8… they proceeded to not win another game and finish 6-12. The exact same record as last year. All those “better dudes” did not lead to more wins. I don't know why but it reminded my of that famous George W Bush quote “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.

Previous Winners: Craig Dickenson, Tom Velessi, Cody Fajardo, Dave Dickenson, Kavis Reed/Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Quick, Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year

This play of the year actually lead to one of the Riders few victories in 2023. With 1 minute left in the game, the Riders had just tied the game 11-11 (yes the “good” games involved tying it at 11 late in the 4th… very sad). Lauther kicks off and CJ Sims inexplicably lets it go into the endzone and casually took a knee. He then trotted off the field blissfully unaware that he had just conceded a game losing kickoff single.  He damn near let the cover team recover it for a TD.

Botched Call of the Year

For the first time in the history of these awards, the botched call of the year did not happen on the field. It comes courtesy of the CFL’s ludicrous approach to player discipline.

Micah Awe was fined not once, not twice, but 3 times for illegal hits this season. He committed a 4th that was flagged in a game but apparently wasn’t worth supplemental discipline for a chronic offender. Add in that he was fined for another illegal hit in Week 18 of 2022 and in a span of less than 16 total games he was fined 4 times (and a fifth offense was ignored) and not once did suspension come into the conversation. If Awe, who averages an illegal hit every 3-4 games, is not dangerous enough to suspend then don’t ever try and claim you care about player safety. 

CFL cares about one thing, public blowback. And they will only suspend when that comes into play. Awe is the fullest disciplinary record I have ever seen and the botch of the year was not suspending him at any point.

Most Insulted Sports Figure

This will come as no surprise. In a landslide the most insulted sports figure this season was Craig Dickenson. His continued poor game management and even worse ability to motivate this team meant I (and most of the province) spent the past 5 months cursing his name. He was so bad it made Evan Johnson’s continued sucktitude not look that bad by comparison.

Previous Winners: Riders O-line, Riders Offensive Tackles, John Ryan, Brandon Bridge, Steve McAdoo, The Riders Secondary, Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year

I will forever advocate for and uphold the integrity of the fan voting process. This award will always be decided by you the fans. But in yet another sign that democracy doesn’t work, you the fans got it wrong.

With 39% of the voting, Craig Reynolds, Jeremy O’Day and Craig Dickenson are your joint Douchebag’s of the year. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I know why you voted for them. Hell hath no fury like a Rider fan scorned… in back to back seasons. I’m not saying you have to like those 3, but I would not call them douchebags. Failures maybe but not douches (except maybe Reynolds, he gives off douchy vibes). Micah Awe or Chris Edwards, now those are douches in every sense of the word. 

But you the fans have spoken and Reynolds/O’Day/Dickenson are your Douchebags of the Year. 

Previous Winners: Garett Marino, Andrew Harris, Simoni Lawrence, Jason Maas x2, Cory Chamblin, Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Tuesday Morning Sentimonies: All’s Well That Ends Well

Apologies for the delay in posting my sentimonies. I’d like to say its because I partied too hard on Grey Cup Sunday but the truth is I’m just old and the desire to go to bed won out over the desire to pen a blog. What I lack in quality and punctuality I make up for in… err… redeeming qualities too numerous to enumerate right now.

Anyway, What. A. Game!

I was legit concerned I was about to watch Winnipeg just sack Fajardo for 3 hours but from start to finish that was a competitive, exciting game. Add in Green Day at half time (who were outstanding, though I am unabashedly biased in that assessment because I love Green Day) and the Bombers losing for a second year in a row in the dying minutes… well sir, that may just be the best Grey Cup I’ve watched in years. 

Here are my Random Quasi Coherent Grey Cup thoughts:

-        One could make the case that the Riders found a far more efficient way to not win back to back Grey Cups.

-        I kid. After 30 years of absolute misery I hope Bomber fans don’t take 4 straight appearances and 2 Cups for granted. That’s a damn good run.

-        But also, screw them and I was very, very happy they lost.

-        Watching Green Day really brings home how badly the half time show was mailed in Regina last year. Also, very happy Green Day didn’t censor their lyrics. Even better they didn’t get sucked into a stupid in game interview.

-        Lots of revisionist history in the wake of the Grey Cup. I know you are all shocked that its happening in Saskatchewan.

-        First of all, at the time we traded away Collaros it was widely believed he was done. Hell had we kept playing we would have been called inconsiderate monsters. We made a call based on what we knew at the time. Looks bad in retrospect but also, I doubt Collaros is still alive if he had to play behind our OL as opposed to the best OL in the CFL.

-        Same thing with Cody/Maas. Fans would have rioted if either were back. I like Cody and think the change of scenery was what he needed. Again, had we kept either of Maas or Cody I doubt our season would have ended any better.

-        Also (and I hate that I have to keep defending O’Day but the man has his faults but let’s at least be fair about we blame on him), yes other than the QBs, they Grey Cup featured many former Riders (Demksi, Hardrick, Neufeld, Lemon, Tuck and Harty) but the first 4 left prior to O’Day being GM and the last 2 are hardly key contributors. O’Day has his faults but not being able to preemptively stop GM Chris Jones’ errors isn’t one of them.

-        Now Willie Jefferson you can blame on O’Day. He didn’t think he was a priority signing in 2019 and Winnipeg reaped the benefits of that dumb call. Also, while we did try to retain Sankey, I’m sure we didn’t try our hardest because we knew we had Dean. No offense to Dean but Sankey is better.

-        Montreal’s punter was awful. Like so awful I’m surprised Maas didn’t hurl a Gatorade container at him.

-        For the degenerate gamblers out there (aka me and my buddies) the coin toss was chaos. We bet on head/tails but all we got was logo/cup. Had that occurred in the NFL the betting world would have exploded. In the future please just say “the logo is heads” to appease us degens.

-        Lastly anyone who is pretending to be offended by Dequoy’s French rant need to calm the hell down. First of all never discourage emotional rants in interviews. Way more interesting than regurgitated generalities that most interviews are full of. Second: he was right. The league screwed up an didn’t bother with any bilingual signage. A) the Grey Cup is a celebration of everything Canadian and we are bilingual country. B) When you are trying to attract more fans to the game doing something to piss off the core fans base of one of the teams in the game you are trying to promote is a big oopsie. Dequoy called them out and swore in French. I’m all for that.

 With the season over, the Rider coaching search now turns into high gear. Stay tuned for all the excitement.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Monday Morning Senitmonies: Random Division Finals Thoughts

Of the 4 possible Grey Cup matches that could have resulted from Saturday’s Divisional Finals games, the one we got was the 4th worst. Obviously I prefer any Grey Cup matchup without Winnipeg (damn you BC) and if I had to endure Winnipeg in another freakin’ Cup then I at least hoped they would play Toronto so we could get best on best. Seems Dinwiddie’s eyes not only suck the souls out of people but also manage to infuse that suck back in his team. So here I am reduced to cheering for a team led by Danny Maccioccia and Jason Maas. At least Hamilton is giving us a decent half time act. If I had to watch this matchup and listen to a halftime act featuring 3 random moderately notable country acts they threw together at the last minute… well I would just snap.

Random thoughts:

-        Toronto looked like a team that just assumed by showing up they would win the game. Montreal looked like a team that knew they had to put in effort.

-        I haven’t seen that many turnovers since that playoff game Michael Bishop started for the Riders.

-        I have no ill will towards Cody and would be perfectly fine with him winning a ring but I had to shake my head when he talked about playing well in all 3 phases to win. Dude, you played great in 2 phases and the offense was just along for the ride literally doing the bear minimum required not to screw things up.

-        I have this horrible feeling that the Grey Cup will just be Winnipeg sacking Fajardo over and over again until they institute a mercy rule. They massacred Vernon Adams and its not like Fajardo is famous for his efficient play in the pocket… or his postseason success against Winnipeg.

-        Please let Winnipeg lose a second Grey Cup to an inferior team. It’s the only thing that can help ease the pain of another failed Rider season.

-        Speaking of the Riders, Nick Marshall was arrested for gun possession. So I guess he may end up putting the lockdown in lockdown corner. He probably wasn’t going to be brought back anyway but this likely seals it.

I’ll be back Monday with Grey Cup thoughts and the world famous Rider Prophet Awards.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Playoff Thoughts and Douchebag of the Year Voting

For the second year in a row the CFL Playoffs are continuing on their merry without need of or care for the Riders. About the only aspect of the playoffs impacting the Riders is the more teams get eliminated, the more quickly we can get into our Head Coach search.

I will offer a few random thoughts on the playoffs so far and then we will get to everyone’s favourite year end activity… voting for the Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year.

Random thoughts:

-        Semi-Finals were really non-events. Both 3rd place teams did not deserve to be in the playoffs and only snuck in by virtue of having even crappier teams (ours included) below them in the standings and it showed.

-        I find Bo Levi Mitchell whining about how his season ended hilarious (yes I’m remain unabashedly petty when it comes to Bo). He was very distinct in his words. He was mad that they didn’t play their “highest paid player”. Not their “best” or “most impactful” or even “closest thing we have to mediocrity”. Matt Shiltz was not good and the fact that he played ahead of Bo should tell you everything you need to know about what Bo has left at this stage.

-        In retrospect, Calgary had a real Sophie’s choice when choosing whether to hitch their wagon to Maier or Mitchell.

-        3 of the 4 remaining starting QBs in the playoffs used to play for the Riders. 2 of them we traded away and 1 we unceremoniously cut ties with.

-        All I really care about in these playoffs is once again seeing Winnipeg lose. I remain unabashedly petty about them as well.

Now onto the Douchebags

Each we honour outstanding achievements in the field of douchebaggery and let you, the fans, vote on the winner. Based purely on the non-ridiculous nature of the voting process, its actually one of the more legitimate CFL awards out there.

This year’s nominees are:

Micah Awe – Fined for dangerous head shots more times that I can count and never had a reason to stop because the league just kept giving him slaps on the wrist. He is a dirty player but for whatever reason no-one seems to care. 

Dickenson/O’Day/Reynolds – The irony here is that they are like the nicest guys in the world (except maybe Reynolds) but its their fault we are in this mess for a second straight year so I’m giving you a chance to vent your frustrations through voting. 

CFL Command Centre – I have a ton of respect for onfield officials who have to make split second decisions in a fast paced game and generally do very well. But I loathe CFL Command Centre. There is no coherent logic to when they decide to act and how they decide to rule on a play.  Could probably save a lot of time and money and just replace them with a Magic 8 ball. Was that a fumble? “Outlook does not look good” 

Other – Feel free to write in votes by commenting here on the various social media platforms I’m on.


Voting ends Friday.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Next Year Territory

 I won’t lie, its really weird to have the Riders season over and the firings already starting while other teams are still playing meaningless regular season games. To be fair, the Riders were playing meaningless regular season football since Labour Day… but I digress. We are in next year country and with declining attendance and general interest in the team, this next few moves the Riders make are pretty important. They could start the process of righting the ship and restoring pride in this franchise or continue powering us towards reliving the 90s. Kids, if your only knowledge of Rider football is from the 2000s, ask your parents how bad the 90s were. Odds are at least the few of you are a result of them trying to numb the pain of a Rider loss with liquid pain reliever.

I want to start with O’Day. There is a lot of hate of out there for the guy and the decision to give him a 3 year extension. I have been vocal in my support of keeping him. He sucked in 2022 and I wouldn’t have been on board with firing him then but his job is to bring in talent and he did that in 2023. I’ve lived through years where our recruiting was hot garbage and we were finding about as much legit talent as a Regina strip club. This is not that. O’Day has his issues (mostly his complete inability or desire to draft OL) but overall the talent is there and our issues were injury (not O’Day’s fault) and bad coaching (something he can fix with this next hire. His first actual extensive head coach search as GM). As for those asking why we couldn’t just extend him 1 or 2 years? I get the thinking but you absolutely can’t do that. If we want a good head coach they will demand a 3 year deal. You can’t have a GM with less tenure than the coach he hires. Remember when we were forced by default to hire Kelly Jeffrey? That’s what happens when you don’t have long term stability at the top. You either had to fire O’Day or give him 3 more. There’s no in between.

As for the Head Coaching staff. There are 2 keys for me 1) finding a head coach who brings a winning culture and is willing to hold people to a high standard (i.e. not a softy like Dickenson) and 2) who can that person bring in as coordinators. The second point is almost as important as the first.

Here’s a list of names being thrown about and some random thoughts on them. I’m sure we will here more leading up to the end of the actual season.

Scott Milanovich – Lots of people’s #1 choice and it tough to argue that. He’s got multiple Grey Cup rings including one as a head coach. He’s got NFL pedigree. He’s the only undefeated head coach in Edmonton history. He does good work with QBs. I’m still not convinced the Ti-Cats just let him go (they brought him there for a reason). It would be interesting to see who he could bring as his coordinators.

Cory Mace – The top guy on the list who has never been a Head Coach before. He’s widely viewed as the next coordinator ready to make the jump. He comes from a winning culture in both Calgary and Toronto. He is a top tier D Coordinator. He is widely respected. Possibility he could bring Pete Costanza as his OC.

Pete Costanza – Basically the offensive version of Mace. He has multiple rings as an assistant. We tried wooing him to be the OC last season and he was smart enough to avoid this mess so he’s clearly smart. As an avid Seinfeld fan, I would love a Costanza as a coach. Possibilities are endless. 

Mark Kilam – Calgary being awful this season took a bit of the luster of his shine but Kilam has long been viewed as a future Head Coach. He’d bring solid special teams. He may even be able to bring Mark Mueller as his OC. Complete shot in the dark here but could he use his Calgary connections to get DeVone Claybrooks at DC? He’s been out of football just long enough to start looking for another coaching job.

Kent Austin – I like many, don’t just like recycling coaches but I think you need to at least consider Austin depending on what your options are. Yes he has a short shelf life before players grow tired of him and yes he’ll jump ship the second something better comes along but he produces winners in short time frames. A Grey Cup as OC with Toronto, a Grey Cup here, 2 Grey Cup appearances coaching Hamilton. He could maybe get LaPo as his OC (it was Austin who originally brought him here). 

Henry Burris – It’s almost pathetic how shamelessly Burris is trying to promote himself as a coach. I honestly would be ok with him as an assistant or even rolling the dice as a coordinator but the man has zero CFL coaching experience. His interview would just be him bragging about turning all those franchises around.

Rider Prophet – If smiling Hank won’t let a complete lack of qualifications stop him from throwing his hat in the ring, why can’t I do it too? So I’m officially letting everyone (including Jeremy O’Day) know that I’m interested. Looking at the history of coaches in this franchise, I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn’t crack the bottom 5 for worst ever despite having no qualifications whatsoever.

Jordan Maksymic – Has done great work with the BC offense with both Rourke and getting a career season out of Vernon Adams. He would be a fresh, new alternative. I’m somewhat leery of assuming that a good coordinator will automatically make a good HC. That kind of thinking got us into this mess.

Kelly Jeffrey – I kid. I kid. By can you imagine? The anarchist in me almost wants to see what would happen.

Khari Jones – Was part of the 2013 staff. Good offensive mind. Players love him. Was only mildly successful in Montreal though. To be fair, he was in some very trying circumstances but I’m still not convinced he’s the guy. If we could find a way to get him back as an assistant that would be nice.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Thursday Thoughts

Well I made it back from Vegas and I am neither sorry to have missed the last game, nor surprised by everything that I happened over the past week. We lost, the season is over, O’Day was retained and Dickenson was sent packing. Another year over and another disappointing ending. It’s a bit like Ground Hog’s day… except I guess this time we have the prospect of a new coach to instill some shred of hope that next year might not suck as much.

I’ll have fill thoughts on the coaching search coming up on Monday but for now here are a few random thoughts on what’s been going on.

-        The best comparison I have for Craig Dickenson is Richie Hall. High character guy, highly successful coordinator, completely unsuited for head coaching. Since his own failure as a head coach, Hall has settled nicely into being a top end coordinator and just keeps piling up rings. Dickenson may yet follow a similar path.

-        Has anyone within the organization admitted that in retrospect hiring a grossly underqualified OC who was the only candidate who didn’t turn us down was maybe a bigger issue than that should not have downplayed?

-        I really don’t get the hatred of O’Day. I was vocal in my criticism of his job last season but look at our roster and tell me he’s not bringing in talent. We needed a QB, he got Harris. Our OL sucked, he got Godber, Blake and Kelly. We needed leaders, he brought in Micah. Receivers he has Bane, Sterns, Emilus, Baker and Lenius. We have RBs. At DB, Milligan and Williams were brought in by O’Day. We keep finding DL. The Canadians he drafts are making an impact. The Globals he drafts are too. A GM’s job is to bring in talent. O’Day isn’t perfect but on the whole he’s doing his job.

-        His main issue was injuries and being too loyal to a bad head coach. If he screws up this next hire, then yes fire him.

-        Micah Johnson should have been our nominee for outstanding defensive player. With due respect to Larry Dean (who I do like as a player), his nomination is completely based on stats and many of his “stats” were tackles that came 7 yards down field.

-        Brady Olivera was the most outstanding player on the Bombers, period full stop. Anyone who think Collaros got jobbed or people just got tired of voting for him are just plain wrong. Collaros was once again very very good but Olivera was the Most Outstanding.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Vacation Time

 I'm leaving on vacation for a week. 

This was prearranged, so its only a pleasant coincidence that it will allow me to avoid the final Rider game. So there will be no pregame write up (I expect us to lose, no shock there) and no Sentimonies on Monday (they would probably be that we sucked).

I am going to drown my sorrows in punk rock, dice rolling and whatever the server is brining me while doing said dice rolling.

See you next week.