Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Grey Cup Has Left The Province

Well this is it. Today is the last day that the Riders get to have the Grey Cup before it has to be returned to the Hall of Fame in Hamilton. For the last couple months, the Cup has been making appearances across the province. From Lloydminster to LaRonge. From hockey rinks to hardware stores. The cup has been to pretty much every corner of Saskatchewan and it has had some interesting experiences. Like the time that the Cup and a bunch of players were left behind at the Grey Cup parade and had to hitchhike back to Mosaic or the time Neal Hughes took the cup on Christmas Eve so he could wake beside it on Christmas morning.

In honour of the Cup's adventures in our province I have developed this top ten list...

Top 10 Saskatchewan uses for the Grey Cup you never would have thought of:
10 - Gravy Boat
9 - Temporary solution to a leaky roof
8 - Snow scoop to dig your car out in the morning
7 - Battering Ram if you're locked out
6 - Jousting Baton for impromptu round of American Gladiators
5 - Antenna for old TVs
4 - Prairie-sized shot glass
3 - Mug for your morning coffee at the office
2 - All in one cereal bowl and TV tray
1 - Quarter bounce National Championship

I would have said club for seal hunting but there's only one person who would actually do that and lord knows he won't be getting his hands on a Grey Cup anytime soon.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Song Time with Prophet

Welcome to the first edition of a new feature on the blog I like to call "Song Time with Prophet". Enjoy...

If the video doesn't load up for some reason, try this link: Rider Prophet Song

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Results Are In…

Well the First Round voting for the Canadian Blog Awards is now complete. Unfortunately, the Rider Prophet did not make it in to the final round of voting. With awards, it’s all politics these days. Who you know, who owes you a favour, who you’ve slept with (though given that we’re talking about blog awards I doubt this last point played in to it since most of the other nominees probably haven’t slept with anyone at all let alone anyone important). The point is it’s not about the blogging anymore.

While it would have been nice to win, just being a nominee is quite an honour. An honour other notable Rider bloggers such as Vanstone and Heroux did not receive I might add.

I may not have won an award this year but I did receive a lovely parting gift. That I will display with pride.

Monday, January 21, 2008

CFL News - Secondary Concerns

In what will come as a surprise to many, I'm going to devote today's blog entry to actual CFL news (for the second time in as many posts). This week there were several stories across the league coming from the defensive backfield.

Cody signs with AAFL
In yet another case of "They'll do anything to get out of Hamilton", Tay Cody apparently signed a contract with the newly formed All-American Football League despite having 2 years left on his contract with the Ti-Cats. It sends a pretty strong message about how a player feels about his team when he throws contractual obligation to the wind and signs with a league that hasn't even filled all of the teams' rosters let alone played a game. There has been no word yet on whether the Ti-cats will pursue legal action to keep Cody in the CFL, but both the team and the league need to stand up for themselves before the situation escalates. Perhaps the Ti-cats are hoping that the AAFL will fold long before this even becomes an issue. Given that former Argo castoff Eric Crouch is currently the AAFL's biggest name player, maybe that's not such a bad plan.

Boulay sign with Jets
The NY Jets have always had a keen interest in taking a look at the best the CFL has to offer. In recent years they have auditioned Ricky Ray, Kenton Keith and Matt Dominguez. Now they are adding another Canadian hero to the list with the signing of Montreal safety Etienne Boulay. I have trouble seeing the logic in this move. When the Jets tried out Keith, Ray, and Dominguez they were arguably the best in the league at their respective spots. Although Boulay is a good safety, I would think there's other defensive backs who are better. I wonder if the Jets realize that "Gibson's Finest Canadian Player" isn't an official league award so much as online poll put on by whiskey makers (and judging by this year's nominees, they're not only the makers of whiskey, they're also clients).

Now the Alouette's are faced with not only finding a new Canadian safety (a tough spot to fill, I know) but also they must find a player to help meet their quota of players with French names.

Cox signs with Als
While one Alouette is trying his luck elsewhere, another is deciding to stay put. One of the biggest potential free-agents was taken off the market last week when the Alouettes re-signed Chip Cox to a 2 year plus an option deal worth $100,000 per season. Jim Popp wisely decided to lock up one of the league's most talented young DBs. I guess in football, as in life, when you've got a good Cox you don't let any other guys get their hands on it.

While this is the largest contract Chip has ever signed, something tells me it's not the first time that Jim Popp has offered $100k for Cox.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

CFL News – Homecomings

The day has finally come. After weeks of filler posts (damn good filler, but filler nonetheless), there's finally been enough noteworthy things happening in the CFL for me to write about. I've been hoping for CFL news for a while now and the phrase "be careful what you wish for" never rang so true. That said, I've wished for lots of other things (women, money, superpowers, emus) and all I have to show for it is an apartment full of giant birds.

So here's a Rider Prophet look at what's making news in a week where everyone seems to be heading home.

Austin to Ole Miss
The news arrived Wednesday morning like a football to the groin of the Rider Nation. After over a week of speculation, Kent Austin confirmed our worst fears when he announced that he is actually a vampire who feeds on the blood of the innocent by the light of the moon... Well actually he's leaving the Riders to accept the Offensive Coordinator position at his alma mater, the University of Mississippi (though the vampire story would have been way cooler and easier to swallow).

You can't fault Austin for accepting this opportunity. It's his old college, it's close to home, and it will lead to bigger and better things down the line. As Eric said, this is the risk you run when you employ talented people. I'm personally glad that we have a coach that is coveted by a prestigious US college, as opposed to a guy like Danny Maciocia who they wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (unless they were using said pole to hit him in the head repeatedly). Fact is Austin is an outstanding young coach who deserves this opportunity (as much as it sucks for us). Anyone who harbours any ill will against Austin over this should be taken out back and beaten with a sack of doorknobs. And not those crappy doorknobs you buy at Wal-Mart either, I'm talking like industrial strength knobs.

I wonder if in any of his conversations with the Ole Miss head coach, Eric Tillman ever used the words "Houston, we have a problem." Actually, I bet when he heard that Ole Miss was going after his head coach, he probably just wanted to bust a Nutt.

This whole situation feels a lot like an episode of The Littlest Hobo. The town of Riderville was faced with a problem (season after season of coming up short of a championship). Then a hero strolls into town and quickly helps us resolve our problem. Then just when we think we've adopted a new member of the family he moves on to the next town as if a voice was calling him, down the road. Maybe tomorrow Austin will settle down, until tomorrow he'll just keep moving on.

God speed Mr. Hobo... I mean Mr. Austin. God speed.

How appropriate it was that Wisers chose to commemorate the Rider Grey Cup win with commemorative rye (it even had a little higher than normal alcohol content) that was a huge hit with the Rider Nation... it's almost as if they knew we'd soon need something to help drown our sorrows.

Maas to Edmonton
It wasn't all sad news in the CFL though. While Rider fans were trying to come to terms with the departure of their beloved head coach, estranged life partners Danny Maciocia and Jason Maas were reunited in Edmonton when the Eskimos signed the free agent QB Wednesday. Maciocia has made no secret of his affection for Maas which no doubt stems from an unhealthy childhood obsession with the Disney movie Dumbo. Rather than dish-out my standard compliment of jokes on this situation, I will let you read the following article. It was written after Maas was first traded to Hamilton. If you have never read it before, you've been missing out. This is one of the all-time funniest articles I have ever read (and that's saying something coming from the self-proclaimed most entertaining sports writer).

Wow hey?

Shivers to the CFL
Finally, after an 18 month hiatus, Roy Shivers is coming home to the CFL. He was hired by the BC Lions to be their Director of Player Personnel. It's kind of scary when you think that our biggest Western rival just combined one of the best coaches in CFL history with one of the best talent scouts in the business. Anyone who thought that BC might lose a step if Joe Smith heads to the NFL is terribly mistaken. If there's one thing Roy can find better than anyone its running backs. I'm actually convinced he has his own private island where he breeds them, kinda like football's version of Jurassic Park.

Roy took a lot of heat when he was in Regina for bringing in talent that, while impressive on the football field, proved to be a detriment to the community. Unfortunately for the Riders, bar fights, adultery, sexual assault charges and stolen dogs became almost a rite of passage under Roy's watch. When asked for comment on the character of some of Shivers' recent finds, Buono was quick to come to the defense of the maligned players: "Did you see it? How do you know it wasn't an accident?"

We now return you to your regularly scheduled filler post.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blog Awards

You and I both already know that this is the best blog on the net. Now we have a chance to prove it. The Rider Prophet’s Blog has been nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards in 4 categories:
Best Blog
Best New Blog
Best Sports Blog
Best Humour Blog

The first round of voting is now open so please go to and cast your vote for the Rider Prophet.

CFL Expansion

I had a request from long-time Prophet fan Steve to post my thoughts on CFL expansion. So here goes...

First of all yes, I am in favour of the CFL expanding. Quite frankly, it’s tough defending the legitimacy of a league where your odds of making the playoffs are way better than your odds of missing them (unless you're the Ti-cats). "But Prophet," you say, "do you really think expansion will work after attempts failed in 7 American cities and twice in Ottawa?" Okay, anyone who actually thought that Canadian football would be successful in the US probably also thought that it would only be a matter of time before Jessica Simpson won an Oscar for Best Actress, and if it weren't for the fact that the Gliebermans have about as much business sense as a half-eaten turkey sandwich that has been left out in the sun for three days, Ottawa would still have a team.

I have prepared a list of possible expansion sites (listed from most logical on down) and some suggestions for team names:
Ottawa - You could go the easy route and revive the Renegades, but if you want to revitalize football in Ottawa I would go with something edgy and tough like the Face Punchers or the Chuck Norris's.
Quebec City - Every team from the province has to have a French name so how about the Frère Jacques, Poutines, or my personal favorite "le Pamplemousse".
Maritimes - A group has been campaigning for the Atlantic Schooners for years but I think a slightly different team name would be in order. In keeping with a nautical theme, how about the Atlantic Sea Men.
Victoria - Now you may think adding another team to the province that is already home to the B.C. Lions would cause problems, but Tampa Bay managed to win a Stanley Cup despite the presence of the Florida Panthers so I think this could work. As for a team name, I would go with the "Secrets" (trust me the stands would be packed).
London or Kitchener - Given that this would be the 3rd or even 4th team in Ontario they would need to play off the popularity of others in order to be successful. I suggest the "Guitar Heroes" as that seems to be popular with the kids these days.
Territories - Given that a town of oil rich tycoons who enjoy regular chinooks already own the rights to the most logical name for this team, it would naturally have to be the "Seal Clubbers" (and they would use their first pick in the expansion draft to select the new face of the franchise, Henry Burris).

I thought it would be interesting to see which provinces are carrying their weight in terms of CFL teams. Saskatchewan and Manitoba each support 1 team with populations that hover right around 1 million, but then again there's really nothing else to do in those provinces. So I will use Alberta as my comparison point as they manage to support 2 CFL teams with around 3.5 million people despite the presence of an NHL team in both cities (well, one NHL team and then whatever it is that the Oilers are). That means they have a football team for every 1,750,000 people.

Here's how the rest of Canada stacks up:
- Saskatchewan and Manitoba are both exceeding my arbitrary bar
- The Maritimes collectively could support 1.3 teams... so bring on the Sea Men (rest assured this is the last time that combination of words will ever appear on my blog. But if you enjoyed reading it, please visit my lesser known side project blog, Ride 'er 4 Profit. The camera work is stellar.)
- BC should be able to support 2.5 teams given their population so although they aren't complete slackers they could be doing better. For the record, I believe this is the first time that BC has not been high.
- Quebec should be able to support 4.4 teams so asking for 1 more shouldn't be too onerous. Although from what I understand, Quebec legislation states that the CFL must employ one French referee for every team in the province. This has left the league less interested in expansion and more interested in contracting the Alouettes.
- Ontario is by far the Canadian slacker as they should be able to support 7.4 teams with their population. That means that they have room for 5 more teams! That said, if half of the league was situated in Southern Ontario, the humidity issues would border on catastrophic.

For anyone who's interested, the Territories collectively could only support 0.14 teams so I guess the Seal Clubbers just aren't in the cards yet (much to the dismay of the dogsled valet industry).

Maybe the solution to the expansion problem requires thinking outside the box. If movies have taught me nothing else, it's that you can turn a bunch of inmates into a competitive football team. And so, I propose a team comprised completely of inmates from our country's prisons... The State Penn Shankers. Not only would it make prisoners give something back to society but the team would have no issue meeting salary cap as the inmates would not get paid. There's already a middle linebacker at their disposal. It may also be possible to bring in a marquee import QB from down south if a deal can be cut (not to mention most of the Cincinnati Bengals).

All my ideas of course completely ignore the need for investors to fund the team, a football stadium with significant capacity to financially sustain a franchise, a management group with significant expertise in football operations and players to fill the rosters, but hey, if I was that good at developing sound business proposals I would probably be making millions in the venture capital market instead of giving my ideas away for free.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Celebrity Endorsement

Note: Ron McLean may not have ever said this or may have just been referring to the fruit.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back In Business

Good day Rider fans, Rider Prophet here as promised with a new post. We've now reached that unfortunate time of the year we call the offseason. The excitement of last season is starting to die down and next season is a long ways away. To make matters worse, there's not even any CFL news to talk about which effectively means that your contribution to conversation at morning coffee is non-existent. Well fear not, for the Rider Prophet is here to help you through this rough stretch. So let's get things started shall we...

Top 10 ways you can tell it's going to be a long offseason
10) You tried to start the wave at Christmas dinner
9) You start missing the XFL
8) We re-sign an O-lineman and there's a half page article in the Leader Post
7) Your doctor told you at your annual physical that you have high cholesterol, and all you could think of is how much you hate Wally Buono
6) You actually start to miss the sound of Chris Walby's Voice
5) You're so desperate to see a CFL game that you watch an Ottawa Renegades' game on ESPN Classic
4) You keep track of the date in terms of how long it is until the start of training camp
3) You've been having inexplicable cravings for watermelon since early December
2) Your insatiable desire to see the Green and White play football caused you to inexplicably watch NY Jets games
1) You rationalize that once you get by Ground Hog's Day, Spring Break, Family Day, Valentine's Day, the vernal equinox, St. Patrick's Day, the Jewish celebration of Purim, Easter, April Fools Day, Buddha's Birthday, Mother's Day and May Long it's only a few short weeks until the preseason.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year’s everybody. Just so you know I’m back from vacation and will be resuming regular posts on Monday. In the meanwhile, we are doing a little market research so please answer the question above.