Thursday, January 8, 2009

CFL News – Coaching and Signings

Since coming back from the Christmas break there has been a flurry of Rider and CFL news. I personally wish they’d spread things out a bit more, as I’m sure the large amount of news now is a sign of a very slow few weeks in the near future. Ah well, I'm not above posting meaningless crap to fill the gaps.

There is no more comedic saga than the Argos search for a new head coach. The normal process for filling a coaching vacancy is to create a shortlist of potential candidates who are interested in the job, interview those candidates, and hire the best one. The Argos, however, have taken a much different approach. They started by creating a shortlist not of people who were interested but rather people who were either out of their league or just generally not interested in coaching in Toronto (i.e. Packers QB coach Tom Clements, former Giants coach Jim Fassel and former Rider coach Danny Barrett). When they realized that no one on their shortlist wanted the job (nor had they even applied), they actually took a step in the right direction by interviewing BC defensive coordinator Mike Benevides. Problem is, even though he interviewed, Benevides came to the same conclusion as the other “candidates”… I don’t want to coach in Toronto. Honestly the Argos can’t give this job away. At this point Media Consultant would like me to mention that his cell phone is on and he is willing to entertain offers. Word is the Argos have 3 candidates remaining (all of whom are currently employed in the US). My sources indicate the list used to contain 4 names but then someone pointed out that Vince Lombardi is dead… and even if he wasn’t he probably still wouldn’t be too interested in the Argos.

In other coaching news, Greg Marshall has been hired by Hamilton as their Defensive Coordinator. Finally, a good move by the Ti-Cats. Marshall has done a good job with the Winnipeg defense over the past 4 years and I’m willing to bet the Ti-cats D will improve under his guidance. Though I guess to be fair, pretty much anyone is a huge step up from Denny Creeehan.

Former Ti-Cat coach Charlie Taaffe has been hired by the Central Florida Knights as their new Offensive Coordinator. Taaffe must feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I mean after a couple years of trying to work with the disgraceful Ti-cats, even a remotely talented college team will be almost euphoric for him.

Now for some CFL Ins and Outs

In: Lance Frazier, Renauld Williams, Darian Durant, Belton Johnson (re-signed)
Out: Jimmy Verdon (retired)
All 4 of these signings are good news for the Riders. Durant is an intelligent QB and the favourite to win the starters role in ’09, Belton came from relative obscurity to become a very solid tackle and important part of our O-line, Frazier is a very talented HB (even overcoming often being paired with James Johnson) and Williams won a defensive player of the week award last year as a back-up so that tells you something about his talent level. So all you doom and gloomers out there can calm down a bit. All our players are not leaving to follow Richie to Edmonton or to chase big $ out East or to retire from football to go live the life of a nomadic gypsy and participate in secret underground cults… unless of course you believe that’s why Verdon retired.
Out: Jamal Johnson (signed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
This will certainly add fuel o the fire that Mo Lloyd may be BC-bound. The Lions’ are down to one remaining starting LB from last year (Javier Glatt, who they are thinking of moving to outside LB) and have been busy paring down their payroll. I’m not saying it’s a certainty but it appears the wheels are in motion. And you know what they say, if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and smells like a duck… shoot it and serve it for dinner (and what that has to do with football, I have no idea).

Also, BC has made a 2 year contract extension offer to Stephan Logan. While this was a no brainer move by the Lions, Logan is taking his time in responding as he is hoping to catch on in the NFL. He’s already worked out with the Steelers and has a couple more workouts scheduled. Normally I would say his size would hinder his chances but given the emergence of Darren Sproles, teams are no longer so quick to dismiss the vertically challenged.

Did you know Darren Sproles was once on the Riders negotiation list? If only hey?

In: Jonte Buhl (re-signed)
Out: Kelly Campbell (signed with Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Jordan Younger, Tim Bakker (released)

So in ’07 Esks go out and acquire Omarr Morgan for top $ (at the time probably the top CB on the market), one year later they dump him after a bad season. In ’08 they trade for Jordan Younger (again one of the most coveted CBs at the time) only to also dump him a year later after a bad season. I wonder if Richie can end this cycle of acquiring, ruining and spitting out once great DBs… barring that I wonder if Richie would be interested in trading for his former Grey Cup MVP DB James Johnson. Come-on Richie… Please?

In: Jamel Richardson (signed 4 year extension), Josh Bourke (re-signed)
Richardson turned down a contract offer from the Minnesota Vikings (as well as interest form the Seahawks, 49ers and Buccaneers) and opted to stay in Montreal. At first glance this seems crazy given the $300K+ contract the NFL would have offered, but it boils down to job security. In Montreal Jamel is the star receiver and his roster spot is all but locked up. In Minnesota (or any NFL team for that matter) there are no guarantees and he would just be one of a number of guys competing for a spot.

In: Nick Setta (re-signed)
Wow first they sign a decent D-Coordinator and then ink one of the league’s best punters… that’s 2 good moves within a week. The Ti-cats should pull a George Costanza and leave on a high note before they do anything to ruin things.

In: Brian Ramsey, Scott Evans, Brandon Joyce (re-signed)
Oh Adam Rita… it’s this kind of logic that has gotten the Argos into the gong show in which they are currently entwined. Last year the Argo O-line was among the absolute worst in the League (just ask Kerry Joseph). So clearly the key to turning the once great Argos around is to keep as much of that terrible O-line together as possible… the gong show continues.


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