Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Offseason is Upon Us

I could tell the offseason had officially set in when I went looking for Rider news and the closest thing I found was an article on how much money Fantuz Flakes raised. Yes I’ve been reduced to reading about cereal to get my Rider fix. I wonder how long before I start charting the correlation between the barometric pressure and the Riders’ second down conversion rate?

While news is generally extremely hard to come by until after Christmas, there are still a few noteworthy things that are going on.

One is the news that Andy Fantuz will be working out for a number of NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings. After leading the league in receiving this year, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. I mean, hell, both Dominique Dorsey and Ryan Grice-Mullen managed to get NFL tryouts so it’s not like they set the bar overly high. Now Fantuz didn’t manage to catch on down south last year when he tried, but at that time he had yet to complete a full season as a pro. This year he’s proved that he can go the distance, which is a definite boost to is resume. Despite the fact that Fantuz is a tweener (to slow to be a WR, to small to be a TE), I think that he will generate some offers. But at this stage of his career he needs to see something in the form of a signing bonus before he’ll consider making the jump. Unlike the Jordan Sisco’s of the world (who can be wooed south by nothing more than a plane ticket), Fantuz makes good money in the CFL so he won’t give up the guaranteed money unless he is offered a serious shot. Jason Clermont went through this exact thing a few years back and once he did the math, decided that the CFL was the best choice for him at the time. Hopefully Fantuz has had a chat with Clermont.

As with all Riders auditioning for the NFL, I wish him the best of luck… but selfishly hope he doesn’t make it.

The other story is Riderville is of course the ongoing “search” for a head coach. It is basically down to 3 candidates Doug Berry, Richie Hall, and Greg Marshall. Here’s a quick rundown of what I see as the pros and cons to each candidate

Doug Berry

Pros: Previous HC experience. In just 2 years turned a 5-13 team into one that made it to the Grey Cup.

Cons: One year after almost winning the Grey Cup he had completely lost his locker room and was fired. Seems to be a disconnect between him and Durant

Richie Hall

Pros: He’s a nice guy. Players respect him. One of the more respected defensive minds in the league.

Cons: Was repeatedly passed over for HC jobs (with good reason) and when he finally got one he was fired after 2 disappointing years (highlighted by a losing record and zero success in the playoffs).

Greg Marshall

Pros: Umm… err… He worked here before? Taman likes him?… Seriously I got nothing.

Cons: The fact that he has no pros.

Honestly if you look purely at their resumes, Doug Berry should win in a landslide. The fact that Greg Marshall is even in contention is somewhat puzzling (unless it’s become a new league rule that Marshall has to be passed over for at least one HC opportunity per offseason). As for Richie Hall, I like and respect the guy but if you take the emotional attachment out of the equation, there is simply no football related reason to hire him as HC. Not one… unless you are in the faction that assume that his dreadful experience in Edmonton somehow taught him the skills he needs to magically become a winning head coach all of the sudden. Much like Rich Stubler, he is a guy that will always excel as a coordinator but is not cut out to run the show. He’s Danny Barrett 2.0 so if mediocrity is your goal, Hall is your guy.

I certainly have some concerns about Berry but he is head and shoulders above the other candidates in terms of qualifications (though given Richie Hall’s small stature that may be a poor choice of words). Let’s just say that if this were an alley fight, Berry has shown up with a handgun, Hall came armed with a pointy stick and Marshall brought a whistle so he can call for help.

Here’s a quick rundown of coaching moves on other teams

- As expected, Edmonton hired Kavis Reed as their new head coach. Reports are that Reed will make Rich Stubler his D Coordinator and Marcus Crandell his OC.

- Chris Jones and Dave Dickenson will be staying in Calgary as the DC and newly appointed OC respectively. I never got the obsession with Dave Dickenson as a HC candidate. Two years ago he was getting his head knocked around as a player. I don’t buy into the notion that he is suddenly the 2nd coming of Austin. In time I bet he will develop in a great coach but he’s a little green just yet.

- The Ti-Cats will make Khari Jones their new OC.

- Despite reports to the contrary over the weekend, Marc Trestman will not be taking a job with the University of Miami and will stay with Montreal.

When it looked like Trestman was on his way to the NCAA, it got me thinking about the churn among CFL head coaches. In the past 6 years there have been a minimum of 2 HC vacancies each offseson and a total of 18 openings. That’s pretty amazing for a league with only 8 teams.

CFL Ins and Outs

*** If a team is inking contract extensions before January it is a sign that they are under the salary cap for 2010 and have some extra $ left over.***


In: DL Odell Willis, LB Pierre Luc Labbe (contract extension)


In: LB Juwan Simpson, LB Keon Raymond, DB Brandon Smith (contract extension)


In: OL Jesse Newman, LS Doug McCullough (contract extension), DL Sean Ortiz, DB Doug Goldsby (free agent signings), DL Adam Baboulas (2010 Draft Pick signing), OL Nick Hennessey, DB Daylan Walker, WR Edward Britton, WR Nick Moore (practice roster players whose contract was picked up for 2011)


In: WR Steven Turner (2010 Draft Pick signing) OL Andre Barbour, WR DJ Boldin, QB Matt Grothe, OL Michael Warner (practice roster players whose contract was picked up for 2011)

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