In case you are like me and currently watching the majority of your March Madness pool go down the toilet (damn Ohio and Murray St!!) you probably need some sort of diversion from your futility in college basketball. Besides it’s a forgone conclusion that the UC Santa Cruz Gauchos are going to go on an unprecedented miracle run and shock the nation by winning it all… at least that’s what my bracket predicts. Though that may be the kind of misguided betting that has led to the aforementioned “down the toilet" scenario.
Anywho, let’s turn our attention to the CFL where it seems the Riders are slowly and not so covertly morphing into the Blue Bombers. First they infiltrated our front office in the form of their old GM. Next they began infiltrating our coaching staff with the additions of Berry, Daley and Dyce. Then a little while later we started adding former Bombers to our offensive line. You see where this is going?
And this invasion is far from over. Word is we are in serious negotiations with Barrin Simpson (their former MLB). I personally am not sold on Simpson. 4 years ago he was arguably the best MLB in the league but to be fair 4 years ago the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers were the 2 best teams in the NHL so clearly a lot can change in 4 years. I suppose there’s no harm in bringing him into camp to see if he still has the talent that made him one of the best but you can list me among those who are extremely sceptical about him and not convinced that we need him.
If you think Simpson will be the end of our slow transformation into the western blue and gold you are likely mistaken. You can bet Taman is currently working the phones to see if Tom Canada can fill one of our DE vacancies. Or to see if Ryan Dinwiddie could be our 4th QB in camp. And if we run into some injuries at receiver don’t be at all surprised to see Milt Stegall answer the call. All we can really do to resist this metamorphosis is to ensure that we as fans don’t become bomber fans. Fortunately this is fairly preventable as long as you practice hygiene on a somewhat regular basis and continue dating outside your family tree.
In other non-Bomber related rider news… the team finalized their coaching staff with the additional of Tom Freeman as our O-line coach. Freeman brings a wealth of experience from the American college system. He is also a senior citizen so at least Ken Miller and Alex Smith will have someone new to join them on their morning mall walks and afternoon naps.
The team also hired Craig Smith as the Assistant GM. Smith has worked for both the Ti-Cats and Lions in the scouting and player personnel field previously and by all accounts has done real good work. I’m also encouraged that Taman (someone who is notoriously bad when it comes to scouting) hired an assistant with strengths that will complement his weaknesses. All we need now is a Director of Not Trading Away Draft Picks and we are set.
The Riders also announced the signings of Cole Bergquist, WR Cary Koch and Winnipeg’s cheaper American knockoff of Andy Fantuz…. WR Aaron Fairooz (you see know they have moved on to our receiving corps). It was a forgone conclusion that Bergquist would sign here but it still makes me happy. He is a QB that I really think will impress this season. He’s clearly an underdog compared to a QB of Harrell’s pedigree in the competition for #2 but I think Bergquist will surprise a lot of people.
CFL Ins and Outs
In: OL Kelly Butler, LB SaMario Houston, WR Will Franklin (free agent signing)
Out: DL Fred Perry (cut)
As if SaMario isn’t an awesome first name… It’s SaMario! It’s just fun to say. And the good news is that given that the Bombers sign him it won’t be long before he somehow ends up here.
In: DL Anthony Maddox (free agent signing)
Anthony is nowhere near as cool as SaMario. If you are trying to impress me Edmonton, you have failed.
In: LB Dennis Haley (trade with Hamilton)
In: DB Jerome Dennis (trade with BC)
This trade fills a need for both teams but it would be even better if SaMario was involved.
In: QB Cleo Lemon, QB Danny Brannagan (free agent signing)
The epic QB showdown in Toronto gets more epic by the day. Now not only will it feature the Riders 3rd stringer and the Bills 3rd stringer, you can add to that a guy who has bounced around 4 NFL teams over 8 years without any real success and a Canadian QB. Maybe we could trade Jason Armstead so they at least have one proven passer on the roster.