Be honest… did you really think we would get through an entire offseason without any bad news? I know the Jason Clermont signing may have lulled you into a false sense of security but come on, we all know by now that the offseason in Riderville is full of intoxicating highs and apocalyptic lows.
Richie Hall has at long last realized his dream of becoming a head coach. You’d think being passed up 7 times in 4 years would discourage a guy, but not Richie. Like many, this is a day of mixed emotion for me. Obviously as a Rider fan, this is not great news. We are losing one of the top defensive coordinators in the league - to a division rival no less. And you can’t help but be somewhat hurt at Richie choosing Danny Maciocia over the Riders. In football, as in life, it hurts when you are dumped in favour of a portly midget with the IQ of a can of lima beans. But you can’t help but be happy for Richie. He’s been among the top coordinators in the league for many years and on top of that is one of the classiest guys in the league. If anybody deserves a head coaching spot it was him. Richie is engrained in Rider history like few others. So congratulations Richie, you will be missed.
Of course now that you are a member of a rival organization I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and no one else but you.
Hall inherits an Eskimo team that has fallen from greatness and has wallowed in the West basement for 3 years. I think he will have a very positive impact on the franchise. They will be able to draw on his defensive wisdom to improve their questionable defense. And hell, as long as Richie is smart enough to run the ball more than 3 times in a game he’ll be a monumental improvement over his predecessor.
Hall’s departure of course leaves many questions surrounding the Rider defense. Will our defense, which has carried this team for years, experience a drop-off without the mastermind that built it? Who will be chosen as Hall’s replacement? Will Richie be able to convince our defensive free-agents to follow him to Edmonton? Is there any chance Hall will push Maciocia to trade for former Grey Cup MVP James Johnson? My fingers are crossed on that last one (and for those of you keeping track at home, yes James Johnson is back on the hatred list).
Speculation is running rampant that many of our players will follow Hall to Edmonton. Names like Lloyd, Lucas, and McKenzie have been tossed around. Also it appears the Esks are very interested in Scott Gordon… Gordon? Seriously? Have at er’ Richie. He must feel strongly that the Esks need more safety blitzes and clearly Gordon is among the best in the league… well perhaps “most experienced” is more appropriate than “best”. I could see 1 or 2 guys following Richie, but the mass exodus some are predicting is just absurd. The same predictions were made when Shivers and Barrett left and never really materialized.
You know, the one good thing about all this is that if Omarr Morgan somehow manages to make the team again next year, at least Edmonton won't try to test him. Richie will make sure it's clear that they must stay away from there. "Listen Ricky, I don't know what you thought you saw for the last 4 years, but I'm telling you that running a crossing pattern against Morgan just isn't going to work! He's too good!"
By the sounds of it Tillman planned ahead and already has replacements for Hall and Mike Gibson in mind but any announcement will have to wait until Ken Miller gets back from vacation.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: Andrew Harris (free agent signing)
Out: Tyrone Williams (officially released)
Andrew Harris is being likened to Stu Foord… a standout RB in junior who the Lions are snatching up rather than risking him going into the draft. Interestingly enough, one of Harris’ former teammates on the National Champion Vancouver Island Raiders recently joined my touch football team. Considering the available alternatives of hanging out with the Rider Prophet and hanging out with Wally Buono, I have a feeling Mr. Harris will soon come to realize that he made the wrong choice.
In: Davis Sanchez, Ben Cahoon and Scott Flory (re-signed)
Long-term planning is evidently not Jim Popp’s strong point. Currently his “long range plan” is to build a team around a core of aging veterans the majority of whom he just signed to 1 year extensions. Sure, the Als will be a decent team next year… but what happens in 2010 when old age security kicks in and every good player on the team retires?
In: Khari Jones (hired as QB Coach)
With Jones joining the Ti-cats, Casey Printers is now the 5th best QB on Hamilton’s roster.
In: Claude Harriot (signed contract extension)
The Argos describe Harriot as their best defensive player down the stretch last season. As recently as 2 years ago, that would have qualified as a huge compliment. This year, however, all that means is Harriot managed a slightly less embarrassing performance than his teammates.