Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Roundup – Lots Going On

Here’s what been happening in a surprisingly busy week in the CFL…

The Riders have opted to swap 1st round picks with Winnipeg as part of that overly complex Bowman/Goodspeed/Rempel deal. It’s not clear whether the decision was one that Tillman made on his way out or that Taman made on his way in… but given that this involved trading away our first round pick, I think its safe to assume that it was a Taman decision.

Joe Womack has been offered a position as head of US Scouting for the Riders. On the surface this would seem like a sign that the Riders still consider Womack to be an important part of the team and want to retain him. Unfortunately it’s not really the case. Given that the US Scout position is to be based in the States, the Riders are basically saying, you can stay with the team but you have to leave the country. That’s kinda like a girl saying that she wants to date you but you’re not allowed to be in the same location as here and all communication is to be by phone or email. I really like Womack and hope he stays with us but I’m not thinking that’s going to happen.

Elsewhere in the CFL

- The Argos have narrowed their search for a head coach down to Doug Berry or George Cortez. I’m thinking if Cortez (who has repeatedly passed on Head Coaching opportunities) is interested he’ll be the guy. Though I’m curious as to what happened to Scott Milanovich, who up until now was the front runner (and an excellent choice to boot). It probably boiled down to logic… I’m just not sure whether it was the presence of logic on the part of Milanovich in deciding to pass or lack of logic on the part of the Argos which they have a long documented history of.

- Greg Marshall is still the front-runner in Winnipeg to be the new head coach (though Paul LaPolice is in the running). That’s not really news since I’ve been telling you that for weeks on this blog. But since I’m the guy that also wrote that the Riders would not win the ’07 cup, that Anton McKenzie has re-signed with the Riders and that I am bigger than Jesus I won’t fault you for taking what I write with a grain of salt.

- Speaking of the Bombers, they are expected to be over the cap (by how much remains unknown at this point). The good news is that even though they are likely to face penalties at least their salary expenditures we’re put to good use… such as the $80K they paid Dan Goodspeed to help the Ti-cats finish with a better record or $60K they paid Milt Stegal to make TSN appearances or the combined $115K they paid Joe Smith, Armstrong, Dinwiddie, O’Meara and Giles to sit at home. They investment clearly paid dividends so Bomber fans can take some solace.

- Rickey Foley will be trying out for the NY Jets as well as a couple other NFL teams in the coming days. If Foley bolts then BC will have lost the CFL Rookie of the Year, their top kick returner and the top sack getter/top Canadian in one season. Oh well, its nothing that one of Casey Printers’’ famous motivational speeches can’t overcome.

- Kent Austin is set to become the head coach at Cornell University. You might remember Cornell from last year’s Salute to Bad Team Names. They are the mighty Big Red… with the Brown Bear mascot. While Cornell is nowhere near as prestigious as Ole Miss, it’s a chance for Austin to get some experience as a head coach and pad his resume for a more prestigious head coaching opportunity in 2-3 years. I want to see a commercial that shows Kent Austin saying “I’m Kent Austin. If you don’t cheer for Big Red then **** you!”

CFL Ins and Outs

In: DB Omarr Morgan (contract extension)
Though I’m glad Morgan is staying here part of me was hoping he’d sign elsewhere only to watch as the Riders won another Grey Cup.


Out: DB Lawrence Gordon (released)
I got nothing.


In: DL Brent Johnson (contract extension)
Johnson had a noticeable slip in production when Wake left, now if Foley leaves too I wonder if he will continue his slide… Oh well, its nothing that one of Casey Printers’’ famous motivational speeches can’t overcome (yeah I copied and pasted this from above. So what? It’s Friday and I’m lazy, cut me some slack).

In: DB Ahmaad Smith (free agent signing)
Smith was a finalist in the reality show 4th And Long (where the winner got a spot in Dallas Cowboys training camp). Now he gets to appear in a reality series entitled (insert your own humourous ending here).

In: WR Vincent Marshall (free agent signing)
Out: WR Otis Amey (released)
I guess the Bombers are trying to capture some of the magic that the Bishop/Marshall connection showed in the ’08 Banjo Bowl… which is likely to deliver similar results as when they acquired James Johnson.

In: WR Eric Deslauriers, DE Jeff Robertshaw, OL Paul Lambert, LB Diamond Ferri (contract extension)
Either Ferri’s parents where trying to toughen him up (ala Boy Named Sue) or they assumed that he would grow up to be a drag queen or hair stylist… Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In: DL Miguel Robede, WR Arjei Franklin (contract extension), OL John Comiskey (free agent signing)
I wonder if Comiskey has finally comes to terms with the fact that the Stamps like Tsoumpas better than him? When they had a chance to draft Tsoumpas they quickly traded away Comiskey. Only now that Tsoumpas has jumped ship to the NFL do the Stamps welcome him back. Odds are good that if Tsoumpas comes back that Comiskey will either be traded or cut.

In: DB Willie Amos (contract extension)
Odd fact about Amos… he won the World Jump Rope Championship in 1999. Seriously check it out. After watching that I’m convinced that the Riders are in trouble next season. I mean how are we supposed to compete with a team that boasts one of the world’s best at skipping in a synchronized fashion. First Lumsden the bobsledder, now Amos the skipper… I wonder what obscure sport they will recruit from next… ice dancing perhaps?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: News A Plenty

Last week, the Riders search for a new GM dominated the news but there was a ton of other goings on so let’s get you caught up on things.

- Though I have been quite vocal about my distain for Taman, I would like to go on record as saying I am glad that we ended up hiring Taman in light of the fact that apparently Glen Suitor was also a candidate. Yes you heard me right… Glen freaking Suitor! It’s no wonder Taman seemed like such a strong candidate if he was only up against the likes of Suitor. Hell a half eaten danish would have looked like a strong candidate by comparison.

- Bob Wylie has left the Riders to accept a job with the Denver Broncos. Wylie is a good coach and I hate to see him go. My reaction to this news went something like this.

- On the free agent front, it appears we are close to finalizing new deals with Wes Cates and Omarr Morgan. Morgan re-signing was pretty much a guarantee. Given what a resounding success his last decision to sign elsewhere was, I can’t see Omarr making that mistake again.

- QB Graham Harrell has accepted a coaching job in the NCAA with Oklahoma State. Apparently it’s only an offseason job and Harrell should still be back here for training camp.

- Word is that the Riders will open the 2010 season at home against the Alouettes on July 1st. A franchise that originated in the US, is led by a Mexican, and represents a province that has repeatedly tried to separate from Canada… yup that seems like the perfect team to be prominently featured on Canada Day.

Elsewhere in the CFL…

- Joe Mack has been named the new VP of Football Operations in Winnipeg. Though Mack has previous experience with the Bombers as well as NFL experience, there are some concerns being raised over the fact that he hasn’t worked in the CFL since 1987 and hasn’t worked in any league since 2001. Mack was quick to put those concerns to rest by stating that he has “a number of friends up here still”… well that’s reassuring. I mean Bart Andrus said the same thing when he was hired and that turned out alright.

- Speaking of the Argos, it seems Lions’ owner David Braley is on the verge of taking over the team. The current owners can’t manage to secure a new partner (go figure… the Argos seem like such a good investment). While the optics of one man owning 25% of the teams in a league are suspect at best, Braley has proven repeatedly that he has the best interest of the league in mind. Besides, given that he would own the worst franchise in each division, even if he pooled all the good players into one team it’s not like they would be all that good anyway.

- Sandro DeAngeles has worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys in recent days. Given the quality of kickers in the NFL post season, you gotta think that DeAngeles will get a contract offer… about the only way he could screw it up would be to do one of his stupid celebration dances during his tryouts.

- Ben Cahoon has no plans to retire and wants to return for a 13th season. There’s just one snag… Cahoon is entering his option and wants new deal signed before he returns. I don’t get this. Cahoon is already among the top paid players on the team and obviously the Als will keep him as long as he can still play. I’m not sure what the push is for a new deal… does he have couple new wives to support or what?

- Casey Printers is releasing a book entitled From High School to the Pros: The Ultimate Guide for the Student Athlete. That’s right for the low price of $19.95 you can learn the secrets of how to go undrafted, spend a year as 3rd stringer in the CFL until you finally get your break, when you finally do get your break turn down a $1M multi-year extension with that team on 2 occasions to go to the NFL, fail miserably in the NFL and get cut, get signed to a huge CFL contract only to fail miserably and be cut, end up unemployed and only get back into football because your old team suffered injuries to all of their QBs and where absolutely desperate. Sounds like a soon to be bestseller to me.

CFL Ins and Out


In: DL John Bowman, OL Jeff Perrett (contract extension), DL Nuvraj Bassi, OL David Bouchard, OL Scott Burley, WR Daron Clark, LB Jerrell Guyton, DL Chris Parris, LB Sam Pope, LB Neil Puffer, DE Darrell Robertson, LB Tyrell Sales, DL Lorenzo Williams (free agent signing)

Out: DL Riall Johnson (released)

While I’m still a big fan of Bassi’s beard, I think it’s safe to assume that given that it’s been 5 years since he was drafted and he has yet develop into even a serviceable back-up that the beard may be all Bassi has going for him at this point.


In: RB Brad Lester, RB Yonus Davis (free agent signing)

Out: RB Martel Mallett (signed with Philadelphia Eagles)

Wally Buono has been very secretive about his reasons for releasing Mallett (the CFL Rookie of the Year) from his contractual obligations early (a questionable move at best). While Wally isn’t giving a reason, there are some theories out there. The leading one is that Wally’s heart grew 3 sizes that day.


In: LB Malik Jackson, RB Jon Cornish, WR Blaine Kruger, LB Justin Phillips (contract extension)


In: OL Matt Morencie, WR Scott Valberg (free agent signing) DB Raymond Wladichuk (2009 draft pick signing)

So follow if you can. Morencie was drafted last year by BC but they decided to send him back to school. On his way home, he was almost swooped by Eric Tillman for the Riders but Morencie decided against it at the last minute… and now Hamilton ends up swooping him… all this fuss over a 3rd round draft pick.


Out: WR Titus Ryan (signed with Dallas Cowboys)

Ryan becomes the 4th Bomber to sign an NFL contract, more than any other team in the league. When you factor in the fact that they had one of the league’s top RBs in Fred Reid and one of the league’s most dynamic players in Jovon Johnson it makes you wonder how they managed to do so bad. Then again they did have Mike Kelly and Michael Bishop to deal with which would more than compensate for numerous talented players.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Okay With New Structure… But Still Not A Taman Fan

I had resigned myself to the fact that whoever was chosen to replace Eric Tillman would likely be a downgrade at the GM position. But I was hoping for a small downgrade as opposed to a monumental step back. Seriously it’s not a good sign when on day 1 you are already less popular than the guy who had to resign because he pled guilty to sexual assault.

Tillman led this team to levels of success not seen in these parts in decades. In just 3 years he delivered 3 winning seasons; 3 home playoff games; 1 first place finish; an MOP, Rookie, Defensive Player and Coach of the Year, 2 Grey Cup appearances and 1 Championship. Obviously his philosophies on building a successful team worked extremely well. So you’d think the logical thing to do to ensure we continue our successful ways would be to hire a GM who had similar philosophies to Tillman. Instead the Riders have hired a GM who is essentially the polar opposite of ET.

ET’s philosophy involved hiring great coaches, placing a premium on Canadian talent, constantly replacing aging veterans with young up and comers that he scouts relentlessly, emphasis on depth at every position (especially QB) and using draft picks to actually draft quality players or trading them away for quality Canadians.

Taman’s philosophy involves hiring the likes of Jim Daley as a coach, placing absolutely zero emphasis on Canadians, keeping aging veterans well past their best before date and signing others teams aging vets as well as he’s too lazy to bother with much scouting, no emphasis on depth (especially at QB where he never had a viable back-up) and trading away any and all drafts picks for Americans of varying quality.

That said the Riders threw a curve ball and changed the structure so that Taman now reports to Ken Miller (the new VP of Football Operations). Though I’m decidedly anti-Taman, if we are stuck with him, this new structure at least a decent compromise and shows that, despite the fact that they hired Taman, Hopson and the Board still have some brains.

Basically Ken Miller is in charge but since he can’t do everything (what with his requirements for a daily nap, Matlock fix and early morning mall-walking), Taman will handle scouting, recruiting, contract negotiations and the salary cap... which I guess means he’ll have a lot of time to negotiated and manage the cap since he’s not big on scouting.

I, for one, welcome our new aged overlord. While I have big concerns with Taman’s abilities, I’m hoping that with Ken Miller calling the shots and Womack (hopefully) still scouting for us that most of that can be mitigated. I have every reason to trust in Ken Miller so I just have to hope that under his guidance Taman won’t revert back to his old habits.

I just hope is that Miller doesn’t awake from one of his naps to find that Taman has traded away both our 1st round picks for James Johnson and the neg rights to that guy from the movie Blindside. Actually given the likelihood of that actually happening I suggest that Miller lock all important documents, cell phones and writing utensils in his office while he naps, just to be safe.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Don't Like Taman

10 – Personal Appearance

Maybe it’s petty but I expect the man in charge of one of this country’s premiere sports franchises to look like he just came from a boardroom instead of a soup kitchen.

9 – Head Coaches

Taman’s past choices for Head Coach were that loveable loser (emphasis on loser) Jim Daley and that ball of rage who tends to lose the locker room, Doug Berry. With Ken Miller set to retire in the near future, the though of Taman picking his successor is concerning.

8 – Step Back

I'm sure Taman would have looked awesome compared to Al Ford, but unfortunately for him he doesn't get to replace Ford. First we had a guy that was pretty good at recruiting little known Americans, but he ended up over paying them in the long run and didn't put any value in Canadians. Then we replaced him with a guy that could find the obscure Americans, loved his Canadian talent, and refused to overpay for anyone. Now we've got Taman. Can't scout, hates Canadians, and pays his vets so much that I think Winnipeg is still paying Stegall for another 4 or 5 years.

7 – Signing Rejects

Taman did admittedly recruit a few future stars but for every success he had there were a string of terrible recruits. Most of them tended to be aging veterans that other teams no longer wanted (Nate Davis, Andrew Greene, Dwan Epps, Tyrone Williams, Fred Perry, Matt O’Meara etc…)

6 – QBs

Kevin Glenn represents Taman’s only success when it comes to recruiting the most important position in football. He auditioned and endless parade of losers including Timmy Chang, Ryan Leaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Brad Banks, Bryan Randall, and Spergeon Wynn. His inability to find a viable QB other than Glenn ended up costing him his one Grey Cup chance.

5 – Negotiation List

While most GMs fill their neg list with top young prospects from down south, Taman filled his with the likes of Brock Lesnar, Dante Culpepper, the guy who won the Wendy’s Kick For A Million and a horse that some guy is training to play offensive tackle.

4 – Scouting

Taman’s “scouting” consisted of scanning the CFL transaction list for players that other teams had cut and whatever he could get in return for a 1st round draft pick.

3 – Drafting

I’m not sure whether Taman has some sort of religious beliefs that prevent him from participating in the CFL draft but he seemed to avoid it like the plague. With Taman at the helm the Bombers made only 1 first and 2 second round picks in 5 years. Which placed them behind the defunct Ottawa Renegades in terms of number of early round picks.

2 – Canadians

With the exception of Doug Brown, Taman’s track record when it comes to Canadian talent is abysmal. Honestly I’m struggling to think of one other notable Canadian under Taman’s watch (with the exception of Brendan Labatte recently). He preferred filling his roster with 4th and 5th round draft picks and hoping his imports compensate for the crappy Canucks he was fielding.

1 – Track Record

In the end winning is all that matters. Problem is Taman doesn’t have a great track record in that department. In his 5 years as GM of the Bombers the team had only 1 winning season, missed the playoffs twice and were eliminated in the East Semi-final twice. Roy Shivers did better than that and we fired him, so I’m not sure why is Taman’s resume all of the sudden so attractive?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: When Crisitunity Knocks

Unlike previous offseasons where by this point I would by into a steady string of filler posts than get steadily less and less football-related, December and January have been filled with Rider and CFL news at unprecedented rates. Much as I did with my pumpkin investments, I assumed this boom would never end and accordingly did no contingency planning whatsoever. So imagine my shock when I went to write this post and found absolutely nothing to write about… and record low prices for pumkins.

Now many would see this as a crisis, but as I’m sure you’re well aware the Chinese have the same word for crisis as opportunity… crisitunity. So I decided to seize this crisitunity by coming up with a creative new post for today…but then I realized how much work and effort that would involve and opted instead to just fall back on my standard lazy response to a slow news day…

Random Quasi Coherent Thoughts

- Greg Marshall is still the front runner to take over in Winnipeg. Though I have no idea how there can be this much clarity on the head coaching position when the President and VP of Football Operations remains up in the air.

- Scott Milanovich appears to be the front runner to be the next head coach in Toronto. I for one am shocked… not because Milanovich is a bad choice. Quite the opposite. Milanovich is a fantastic choice for the struggling Argos. This uncharacteristic display of logic and sound reasoning has me wondering if Eric Tillman has already secretly assumed power in TO… there’s no way Adam Rita is smart enough to make this kind of decision.

- Speaking of uncharacteristic… Wally Buono has given Martel Mallett permission to work out for the St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles even though Mallett’s option year isn’t until next year. I’m fairly suspicious as to his motives for doing this. Buono does things out of the goodness of his heart about as often as Nate Kaeding makes playoff FG attempts.

- Free Agency opens in just over a month. Already 2 very high profile players have declared their intentions to test the free agent market: Kerry Watkins and Ricky Foley. While I would welcome the chance to add either to our team, I don’t expect us to be in the running for them or any other big name free agents for that matter. The Riders aren’t likely to offer big money to any free agent and historically don’t go after other teams players… and those odd times we do, we just end up trading the guy back to where he came from anyway.

- I was glad to see my Vikings embarrass the “Man In the Bush-endorsed” Cowboys. Given that the Man In the Bush endorsement also proved to be the kiss of death for the Cardinals and Ravens, he is under strict instructions to endorse the Saints in the conference championships.

- Did you the hit that Kurt Warner took on that interception return against the Saints?! Gotta love a sport where delivering a bone jarring hit to a borderline senior citizen is not only allowed but greatly encouraged.

- Are you still reading? Or can I stop here?

- Still reading hey? … ummm …. Uhhh… Woozle Wuzzle

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Roundup

Well the weekend is upon us once again and you’re probably off to go stock up on supplies for the weekend…liquor, smokes, prostitutes, fireworks, Victoria Secret catalogue, Sears catalogue, or whatever is it you need to have a good time (I don’t judge). But before you get to your weekend tomfoolery and chicanery allow me to get you up to speed on what’s been happening in the CFL this week.

- The Riders’ search for a new GM continues. Apparently John Murphy has added his name into the mix of potential candidates. Murphy is currently the Bombers’ Director of Player Personnel and has previously worked as a scout for the Stampeders. Though he’s young (37) and relatively inexperienced compared to other candidates, he has a pretty good track record when it comes to recruiting… plus he has that whole “not being Brendan Taman” thing going for him, which I see as a huge plus.

- On the player front, the team announced that they have re-signed Hugh Charles and Chris Getzlaf… though the Getzlaf extension has been public knowledge for close to a month now. I wonder if Charles did a celebratory flip when the contract was signed.

- It was a good week for Mike Kelly. He reached a financial settlement with the Bombers over his dismissal and had the assault charges he was facing dropped, provided he attends anger management training and stays away from his ex-girlfriend for 3 months. As good a week as Kelly had, I’d say the Bombers and his ex-girlfriend had even better weeks by virtue of not having to deal with Kelly again for the foreseeable future.

- Adrian McPherson is apparently sick of Anthony Calvillo’s Damon Allen impersonation. He is tired of being stuck behind Calvillo and has requested a trade from the Als in the hopes of getting a chance to compete for a starting job elsewhere. I can see McPherson’s concern. I mean at the rate AC is going, by the time he finally retires and gives McPherson his shot, all the talented Als will either be retired or dead… including McPherson.

- To be fair, McPherson may be younger and more athletic than AC but the aged Calvillo’s mental sharpness is still miles ahead of McPherson. You’d never see AC make this mistake…

- McPherson isn’t the only Alouette looking to get out of town. Damon Duval has a workout with the Atlanta Falcons in the hopes of catching on down south. While I’m sure an NFL contract would constitute a pay increase for Duval, I would be reluctant to give up what he has in Montreal. He’s playing the least physically demanding job in football, for one of the top teams in the league and just happens to be boinking the Team President’s daughter. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

CFL Ins and Out

In: Joffrey Reynolds (contract extension)
Reynolds is the best and most consistent RB in the league so it’s no surprise to see the Stamps lock him up before he hits free agency. That said I’ve always wanted to see the day were Reynolds finally flips and puts Burris through a table before walking out the door for good.

Out: LB Derrick Doggett (signed with Pittsburgh Steelers)
Much like Dudley Guice, I had to look up who this Doggett fellow was… I assume that if someone is good enough for the NFL I should at least have heard of them. Turns out he was 4th in the league in special teams tackles. Who knew? At first I was somewhat impressed then I realized that nobody punted more than the Bombers last season (no doubt completely unrelated to starting Bishop at QB) so his impressive stats are probably more just a product of having a ridiculous amount of chances than they are of Doggett’s talent.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Moving On

Moving On

Ladies and Gentlemen, Eric Tillman has left the building. I know it’s almost been a week since he resigned but the reality of him being gone is really only starting to settle in now for me… having almost nothing to do with the 5 day bender that the loss of Tillman and Chick within 24 hours sent me spiralling into.

The good news is that ET took every precaution to ensure that his successor could not screw things up for the upcoming season (guess he was just as worried about Taman taking over as I am). He has apparently reached verbal agreements with most of our free-agents, has ensured we are under the cap and used the excess money to extend a few contracts and he has apparently signed a bunch of Americans and filled our training camp roster to the point that there are no more spots left for imports. Basically it seems that ET saw the writing on the wall and decided to do an offseason’s worth of work in a few weeks to ensure one more good season for the Riders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he left instructions on who to draft over the next 3 years… with a big sticky note on top that says “Don’t Let Taman Trade Away Our Picks!”

According to Jim Hopson, Taman and Joe Womack are the leading contenders. Though apparently Tom Higgins has expressed his interest. Higgins must not be enjoying his job as Director of Officiating that much because any football related job that has come along in the past few weeks, he has made a point of letting people know that he’s interested. I’m waiting for the Argos to say they are looking for a new summer temp and Higgins to immediately declare his interest in the position.

The NFL is in the middle of a full fledged pillage of CFL rosters. Having already snagged Rolly Lumbala (Miami), Ryan Grice-Mullen (Miami), Larry Taylor (NYJ), Dudley Guice (Indy), Jonathan Hefney (Detroit), Walter Curry (Jacksonville) and John Chick (Indy… you bastards!) as you’ll see below, the list continues to grow. My concern is that if mediocre receivers like Grice-Mullen, Green and the unheard-of Guice are getting contracts, that can’t bode will for our chances of keeping Fantuz. Then again I haven’t heard that Fantuz has had any workouts yet and you’d have to think that if he gets snubbed this year while lesser receivers are getting signed that would pretty much have to bed his NFL aspirations.

This just in… Mark McGwire has admitted to using steroids throughout his career including the year he broke the home run record. I for one was completely caught off guard by this development. Never saw it coming. I mean what’s next? News that Wilt Chamberlain was promiscuous during his playing days? Or news that wrestling is fake? I just don’t know what to believe anymore.

The CFL released its list of potential free agents today. Among the most concerning potential Rider free agents are Scott Shultz (who retired many months ago), Andy Fantuz (who’s already agreed to an extension with us) and Dustin Cherniawski (can’t imagine how we would ever survive without him).

I’d also like to point out that James Johnson is a potential free agent. Let the bidding war begin… well okay I can’t even type that with a straight face. But seriously, I sincerely hope that Johnson is able secure another CFL contract… as long as it’s with anyone but us.

Winnipeg’s search to fill every position except their receptionist (who at this point is probably in charge of player signings… marking a dramatic improvement in that area compared to previous years) continues. The list of candidates for the head coaching positions has apparently been narrowed to Stamps OC George Cortez, Stamps DC Chris Jones, Ti-Cat DC Greg Marshall and Als DC Tim Burke. All speculation points to Marshall as the front-runner.

Among those said to be interested in the front office jobs are current Bombers personnel men John Murphy and Ross Hodgkinson, Brendan Taman, Tom Higgins and Mike McCarthy (the Als scout not the Green Bay coach). Please pick Taman, please pick Taman, please pick Taman.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: OL Tim O’Neil, OL Godfrey Ellis (re-signed)

Out: OL Dmitri Tsoumpas (signed with Miami Dolphins)


Out: WR SJ Green (signed with NY Jets)

As with most Alouette news I include this only to comply with constitutional requirements to maintain a certain level of French content. Tres bien!


In: DB Jovon Johnson (re-signed)

While I’m not surprised that Winnipeg wanted to re-sign Johnson (seeing as he is an elite cornerback and kick retruner), I’m somewhat surprised that Johnson would re-sign with a team with no GM, coach, QB or another element that is key to the success of a football team.


In: OL Peter Dyakowski, LB Yannick Carter, S Sandy Beveridge (re-signed)

Out: DB Bo Smith (signed with NY Jets)

Bo Smith got an NFL contract, Markeith Knowlton and Geoff Tisdale have worked out for NFL teams as well… for a team that spent the better part of decade with a roster filed with guys that probably wouldn’t make


In: OL Zachary Pollari, OL Gordon Sawler, DB Brad Crawford, DB Anthony Deslauriers (2009 draft pick signing); FB Peter Quinney, LB Tang Bacheyie (free agent signing)

Given that all 6 of these players are young Canadian players, it would seem on the surface that the Argos have finally realized the importance of recruiting quality Canadian players… but if you dig deeper you realize that all of them were drafted in the 4th round or later in last year’s draft so the “quality” part of things doesn’t really apply and that this is the same old Argos. By the way… who names their kid Tang?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Back To Football

After spending most of last week discussing legal proceedings, sexual assault and other serious matters that don’t lend themselves to the humour you’ve come to expect from this blog, I thought it would be refreshing to start the week with some actual football news and some actual humour (well at least feigned attempts at it). And if its humour we’re after there’s no better place to start than Toronto…

The Argos search for a head coach continues. Fortunately it seems they learned from their mistakes last time. Unlike last year when they pursued the likes of Jim Fassel, Tom Clement and attempted to resurrect Vince Lombardi… this year their candidates actually appear interested in the position. And unlike last year when the best thing that could be said about their leading candidate’s knowledge of the CFL is he’s “watched the game”… this year their candidate list includes people who not only have CFL coaching experience but also enjoyed success in their role. Now this would fly in the face of the longstanding Toronto tradition of making embarrassingly bad decisions when it comes to the operation of their sporting teams but fear not… there’s still plenty of time for them to screw things up before the season starts.

The Argos’ have narrowed their candidate list down to 4: Als OC - Scott Milanovich, Stamps DC - Chris Jones, Ti-Cat DC - Greg Marshall and the currently unemployed Doug Berry. Though all 4 would be good choices, I think the Argos would be wise to go with on offensive minded coach like Berry or Milanovich. Their D actually wasn’t that bad last year but their offense was abysmal. Having said that, look for the Argos to defy logic and go with either Jones or Marshall… or pass over these candidates altogether and hire Cito Gaston in an attempt to renew interest in the team.

The Bombers, not to be outdone in the biggest CFL gong show competition, are currently looking for a Head Coach, VP of Football Operations and President/CEO (seriously who is running this team!?!? The mascot? Steve from accounting?). Interest in these posts has been decidedly mixed. While some people (like former Commissioner Tom Wright) have (wisely) made it clear that they are not interested, some people (like Director of Officiating Tom Higgins) have said they are very interested. While I realize being the head of one of the most hated group of people in the league may not be a dream job, would being the head of the Bombers really be a step up?

The Lions have announced that they will play the 2010 season at a temporary stadium to be erected at the old Empire Stadium site while BC Place is having its roof replaced. Other than the fact that I just used the word “erected” I’m struggling to think of something funny to write about this.

CFL Ins and Outs


In: K Alexis Serna (contract extension)

Out: DB Jonathan Hefney (signed with Detroit Lions), WR Dudley Guice (signed with Indy Colts)

After spending a season on a team that was mired in a constant gong show/media circus and terrible on-field performance, Hefney will get to enjoy being on a team that focuses exclusively on the terrible on-field performance. As for Guice… he somehow managed a contract with one of the NFL’s elite offenses after catching only 6 passes and appearing in only 3 games this past season with the lowly Bombers… that’s nothing short of amazing.


In: LB Otis Floyd, DL Darrell Adams, QB Kevin Glenn, QB Quinton Porter (contract extension)

So I wonder if Hamilton has finally realized that Kevin Glenn gives them the best chance to win or if they plan to waste a few more games next season on the “Porter is due” theory.


In: RB Jeff Johnson, LB Jason Pottinger (contract extension)

Out: DL Walter Curry (signed with Jacksonville Jaguars)

I’m shocked that the Argos re-signed not 1 but 2 Canadians. Adam Rita must have mistakenly assumed they were Americans.


Out: FB Rolly Lumbala, WR Ryan Grice-Mullen (signed with Miami Dolphins)

Cam Wake must have made one hell of an impression on the Dolphins, for them to go out and sign 2 of his former team mates. I mean given Lumbala’s size I can see the interest in him but given that Grice-Mullen got turned inside out by our punter, I can’t see him lasting too long in the NFL.


Out: KR Larry Taylor (signed with New York Jets)

I hope Taylor puts his best skills on display because given his diminutive size, if he angers Coach Rex Ryan, I could see Ryan eating him as a mid-afternoon snack.

Also, Keron Williams had a workout with the Minnesota Vikings though no contract offer has been made yet. That’s just what the Vikings need another D-lineman named Williams. I wonder how long before they ask Jared Allen to change his last name.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

From Bad to Worse

John Chick has signed a 3 year deal with the Indy Colts including a 6 figure signing bonus. That means he's gone and won't be seen around here for a long time... if ever. This blows!

Seriously… my kingdom for some good Rider news. Then again maybe because “my kingdom” is limited to a robe, a non-profit blog and whatever money you can get by returning the empties in my basement I guess I’m not in that good of a bargaining position.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Fallout

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Eric Tillman will not be returning to the Riders . While I always hoped this day would never come, I knew from the day the story broke that this was likely what the end result would be. Short of a full exoneration it was pretty much inevitable that this would spell the end of Tillman’s time with the Riders. The Board obviously felt that it was not in the best interests of the team to go forward with someone who had committed sexual assault as the leader of the franchise. The court of public opinion is not as lenient as the courts of justice and in the end Tillman was let go not because of what he’s done but rather what people think of what he’s done.

Though I disagree with their decision, I understand why the team chose to go this route and accept their decision. They came to the conclusion that keeping Tillman on would be more trouble than its worth.

You’ll note that throughout the legal proceedings I have kept my opinions fairly quiet and I’m sure many are you are wondering where I stand on this issue. Well here goes…

I think it’s a shame that one of the most successful GMs in team history was sent packing because of such a minor incident… okay poor choice of words… let’s go with such a small indiscretion. By all account Tillman has been nothing but a stand-up guy both in his career and in his personal life for all but one brief moment in his 52 years on this earth. What he did in that brief moment was wrong and I will not make any attempt to excuse his actions or downplay their seriousness. That said I don’t feel as though this one incident was severe enough that it would inhibit his ability to continue to perform at a high level as our GM and ensure continued success for the franchise.

The idea that public perception left the Riders no choice but to part ways with Tillman is somewhat hypocritical and I’ll use a comparison to illustrate why.

When we look back on 2009 what will be the biggest black mark on this franchise? The infamous 13th man. And who was responsible for this black mark? Kavis Reed. He screwed up, plain and simple. There was public criticism and this will no doubt something that will be the source of a ton of media attention and public criticism in the coming season. Yet Reed was not let go. The team seemed to be willing to forgive one massive screw up in light of his performance throughout the season.

The same logic was no afforded to Tillman. He screwed up plain and simple as well but in this case the team was not willing to forgive. Now I’m not saying that a coaching error is as bad as inappropriately touching a minor (especially since one is illegal and one is not)… but I guarantee that it will be a bigger story in the coming season. So if the logic for parting ways with Tillman was that his actions were too damaging to the team’s image then it would be hypocritical to not also part ways with Reed has his actions were far more damaging to the franchise… Just a point to ponder.

In the grand scheme of things was what Tillman did all that bad? People still cheer for Canada’s Olympic hockey team even though their roster features someone (Dany Heatley) who killed a man while driving at excessive speeds. People still watch TSN even though one of their panellists (Craig MacTavish) killed a woman while driving drunk. People still listen to James Brown despite his multiple weapons and drug related offenses. Yet people are taking a “holier than thou” approach to one solitary, brief instance of inappropriate contact?

Tillman was quick to give second chances in his time with the team. He gave one to Jason Armstead despite a run in with the law. He gave one to Adarius Bowman despite his pot smoking. He offered one to Hakeem Hill (though Hill wasn’t smart enough to actually take advantage of the offer). But he wasn’t lucky enough to have one offered to him which is too bad.

As I said, though I disagree with the team’s decision, I accept it and respect it. I don’t imagine its one they came to lightly and maybe in the end this will be what’s best for everyone. Both parties can move on and leave this unfortunate incident in the past.

At this point I think ET would be best served to go lay low for awhile and after some time passes I imagine he will resurface in a scouting role or consultant role with a team (much like Roy Shivers did after he was fired) and in time we will see him back in charge of a football team. He’s too good at what he does to stay away for long.

And so it is with great remorse that I bid adieu to one of the great men in Rider history. Though is legacy will unfortunately be marred by the sexual assault charge, his contributions to the team and the heights of success he has led them to is what I will choose to remember.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tillman Granted Absolute Discharge

The courts have granted Tillman’s request for an absolute discharge after he plead guilty to a charge of sexual assault. It’s basically the legal equivalent of letting him off with a warning. He’s guilty as charged but no further punishment has been deemed necessary. As long as he doesn’t do it again in the next year he’ll have no criminal record.

While this is the end of his legal troubles, his status with the Roughriders is still very much up in the air. Tillman indicated that he would like to stay with the team but understands that the ultimate decision lies with the Board of Directors. They will be meeting tomorrow and won’t be making any further statement on the matter until they have reached their decision.

There are 2 highly polarized sides in this debate: those that firmly believe Tillman should be let go and those that firmly believe Tillman should be kept on and neither side is willing to listen to arguments of the other. The thing I find ironic is that the people that believe he should be dismissed do so not because of what he did but the fact that he did something bad. Those that believe he should be kept do so because of what he’s done with the team not what he’s done with his babysitter. I’ve heard very few arguments on either side that are based on the actual incident itself.

This is a very difficult decision for the Board to make. There will be hardship regardless of their decision. If Tillman stays then there will definitely be a flood of public criticism and negative media attention that will follow the team all season. If Tillman goes then we will be letting one of the most successful GMs in team history walk out the door and will likely face a flood of public criticism.

My gut instinct is that the team will ask Tillman to resign but I guess we will see tomorrow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tillman Pleads Guilty

Here’s a summary of what happened in court on Monday in the Eric Tillman trial…

- Tillman changed his plea to guilty and requested an absolute discharge. The crown was in agreement with the request.

- Tillman apologized saying he takes responsibility for his actions and that it was out of character for him… You can read the full apology here.

- He claims that he was on pain medication mixed with sleeping pills at the time and didn't remember the incident

- The judge reserved his decision until tomorrow

The Riders responded by issuing a statement saying they will be holding a special meeting of the Board of Directors to discuss what to do in light of this new development. They won’t be making any decisions until the judge hands down his verdict. Both parties have agreed that Tillman will no longer be involved in the day to day operations of the club until the matter is resolved.

What this all means in terms of Tillman’s future with the Riders remains to be seen. I guess we will find out more tomorrow.

Monday Morning Sentimonies: New Year, Same Bigotry

Happy New Year to all of you… unless of course you’re Chinese and still clinging to the misguided view that the lunar calendar is better than the solar calendar that the rest of the world has adopted… what has the moon ever done for us? There’s no such thing as “lunar power”, a “moontan” or a “moondae”. But I digress.

Hopefully you all had a good Christmas… unless of course you’re Ukrainian and think you are too good to celebrate Christmas with the rest of us and need your own special Christmas 2 weeks later because you follow the Julian calendar. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that a bunch of former Soviets adopted a Roman calendar that happens to allow them to benefit from Boxing Day sales. But I digress.

As we start a new year, let me get you caught up on what’s been going on in CFL...

The big news in Riderville is of course that the Eric Tillman trial starts today. In a true testament to the efficiency of our justice system, the charges were laid 11 months ago, for an incident that allegedly occurred 17 months ago. In the intervening time, 4 separate court appearances have occurred, totalling no more than 15 minutes and all we have to show for it is a plea of not guilty. At their current pace, by the time they get around to handing down a verdict I assume Tillman will be controlling team operations from his moon base will commute occasionally back to Regina in a trans-galactic space cruiser that is fuelled by Rider Prophetonium (a new element that I plan to discover sometime before I die).

While it will be nice to finally have so closure on the matter, I’m somewhat leery of what that closure may entail. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

The Blue Bombers have received permission from the Riders to speak with Brendan Taman about their vacant VP of Football Operations… the same post Taman resigned from before the season started. My first thought upon reading this was “Oh yeah, I forgot that Taman worked for the Riders”. I do find it ironic that Mike Kelly was brought in to clean up Taman’s mess and now, the Bombers’ answer to Kelly’s mess is to bring back Taman.

Dmitri Tsoumpas is trying out for the Miami Dolphins and NY Jets among other NFL teams. Kicker Justin Medlock is also working out for a few teams down south. Both would be huge loses for their respective teams. Tsoumpas one of the Stamps top linemen despite his young age and Medlock… well his really the Argos’ only offensive weapon.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: OL Taylor Robertson (re-signed through 2011)

Out: Barrin Simpson (released)
I’m half expecting the league to determine later this week that the Bombers weren’t able to cut Simpson and force them to re-instate him.