Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Mosaic’s $14 Million Facelift

Usually by this point of the offseason the lack of actual player news leaves me commenting on curling, discussions on whether it was a pimple or a boil and pretty much anything just to fill this space... and by that I of course mean that I put tireless effort into each post regardless of the time of year to ensure a positive reading experience for my fans... any chance you are buying that? No? Didn’t think so. Well it was worth a shot.

Anywho, this offseason there have been enough big stories to so far tide me over. Last week it was the Lingerie Football League and this week it’s the announcement of a $14 million upgrade to Mosaic Stadium. The plan will see the installation of 5000 new fancy temporary seats in a bowl style in the endzones, add corporate boxes and add new jumbotrons. This will be phase 1 and look like this:

Then next year when the Grey Cup is here they will expand overall seating by adding second decks to the new temp seats pushing capacity to 50,000 for Labour Day through the Grey Cup. It will look like this:

Then in 2014 the 2nd deck will be removed and we will be back in the bowl style 33,000 capacity format until the new stadium is ready at which points the temp seats will be sent off the football fields around Saskatchewan to support amateur football.

Now this should have been nothing but positive news but it has unfortunately been sullied by a bunch of assuming and misinformation regarding the prospects of a new stadium. And when misinformation and stupidity in the football world abound, you know what that means... it’s time for another installment of Addressing Uninformed Opinions aka Everyone is Stupid But Me.

Uniformed Opinion #1 – This means we are not getting a new stadium.
Clearly you missed key parts of the announcement like “temporary seats” and “seats to be taken down and distributed across the province”. Or maybe you just assumed that this was bizzaro world and temporary meant permanent and “torn down” meant “left there forever while the kids of Swift Current cry that the stands Jim Hopson promised them are never coming”. This is a temporary thing that was needed for the Grey Cup and is only meant to tide us over until the stadium is ready.

The only way we are not getting a new stadium is if people vote for the hippie mayoral candidate who doesn’t support the stadium.

Uninformed Opinion #2 – It’s a waste to pump $14 Million if we are just going to demolish it in 4 years.
On the surface I will agree with you here (aren’t I a nice guy?) but you need to dig deeper to see the economic sense. Fact is we needed temp seating for Grey Cup. Believe it or not the CFL would not have awarded us the event if we didn’t promise to expand seating a ton. So given that we would have had to pay for that anyway the team wisely decided to try and make it a more profitable investment. So instead of just getting the increased capacity for Grey Cup we are now also getting an additional 5000 seats per game for 4 years, which should  mean more $$$. We are also getting more corporate boxes for 4 years which are a cash cow for sports teams hence more $$$. So the team is turning a necessary expense into what should be a money making venture. It’s actually smart business. After a year of witnessing countless stupid decisions on the field, we should feel somewhat reassured that the team is still making good decisions off the field... you know minus the giving Taman complete control thing.

Also it’s not like we are just going to throw out the new jumbotrons in 4 years, I’m sure they will move them to the new stadium so it’s not a wasted investment. Then again if they are planning to throw them out I may just have to go dumpster diving... my house could use a 60 foot TV.

So in conclusion, upgrades = good investment; temporary actually means temporary; and stadium still a go unless people of Regina vote like idiots.

The good news on that last point is given that voter turnout for municipal elections is embarrassingly low, given that me and Mrs Prophet plan on voting for a pro-stadium mayor that should pretty much make it a lock.   

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rider Prophet Trivia Challenge

Here's a new trivia challenge for you to kill sometime this weekend.

See if you can name all the players to dress for a regular season game for the Riders in 2009?

It was just a few years ago I guarantee you some of the names will surprise you and others you will never have heard of.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lingerie Football League Coming to Regina

Normally when “football” and “bra” are found in the same news headline we just assume that Henry Burris had another one of his infamous Birthday Bachelor Parties forCancer Research. But believe it or not there was actually a news story involving both football and lingerie that didn’t involve Henry (at least not yet).

The LFL, Lingerie Football League, announced that Regina had been awarded a franchise. Along with BC and Toronto, the Regina team will make up part of a new northern expansion conference.

At first I thought this had to be some sort of joke. I mean this province is so resistant to anything that didn’t exist in 1940 that we are vehemently opposed to daylight savings time and still think its wrong to allow alcohol to be served in places where women are taking there clothes off… like a gym change room (I’m kidding). Turns out this is no joke. We are actually getting an LFL team. Once I found that out I quickly began looking into where I can apply to be the team’s athletic trainer or equipment manager. Better yet, I want to be their Director of Scouting.

I really don’t see this concept working here in Regina and I’m not even talking about getting fans to the games (which will be its own struggle). The entire concept of the LFL is based on finding a dozen or so women who meet all 3 of the following criteria: 1- Attractive (in the words of the LFL commissioner “you can’t be 5’2 and 240”… he also added that “rounder women might be offended”…. Yeah he sounds like a real charmer) 2- Can actually play football (and not just football but contact football) and 3-  are willing to objectify themselves in front of a crowd. You could maybe find a bunch that meet 2 out of 3 but the supply of women who meet all 3 is going to be pretty limited. In a big city like LA or Tampa Bay I don’t doubt you can find enough of them but this is Saskatchewan. We so small that I’m pretty sure I’ve met 75% of the people that live here and none strike me as the LFL type. So that means we are either going to have to start importing some talent or settle for a team with a couple 8’s and some 4s and 5s filling out the roster.

I guess we will have to wait and see. In the mean time they are having a contest to name the team which we are all invited to participate in. Man I wish I could see some of the suggestions they are going to get.  As one of the foremost authorities on football in this province (self proclaimed of course) I figured I should provide some suggestions on team names.

Obviously we should shoot for a name that reflects our province and our heritage. Options there include the Regina Hoes (as a tribute to our agricultural heritage), the Regina Flatlands (in reference to our topography), or the Regina Dancers (after this city’s “finest” strip club). Or you could borrow the Cougars name from the U of R (though that would only make sense if the players were older). I suppose depending on what kind of women we recruit for our team Huskies would also be an option but something tells me that might hurt marketing efforts.
The best suggestion I’ve heard so far is to call them the Regina Monologues. (I just wish I could take credit for it… instead I just stole it, that’s the Prophet Way)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Morning Senitmonies: What’s Left?

After a flurry of activity last week, we are likely headed for a lull in terms of CFL news. There may be few signings here there but overall things will be pretty quiet until E-Camp in March and the Draft in May. When you combine that with the fact that NFL is over, NHL playoff haven’t started and March Madness is still a ways away, this is one of the worst stretches for sports fans. I like curling as much as the next guy but it’s kinda sad when the most exciting highlights on Sports Centre are essentially glorified housework.

So unfortunately for the next little while you will be stuck with my random commentary which will likely become less and less based in actual football matters with each passing day. Don’t be surprised when 3 weeks from now you are reading about what I ate for supper or the ridiculous things that people actually purchase such as pet strollers or curtains that don’t actually block any light (consider yourself warned).

For today though, we will stick to a couple football matters.

The first is the 2012 CFL Schedule. It came out last week and almost instantly people began complaining about it. Now I agree that the schedule is far from ideal from a fan’s perspective in terms of the Riders but we really have no one to blame but ourselves for this. You see, Rider fans have developed a reputation over the past few years. Any game, any time, if the Riders are playing we will be there. Hell we could probably sell out at 4am game in a rare and secluded Caribbean island on a Tuesday. The CFL has wisely caught onto this trend and decided that they don’t need to worry about giving the premium timeslots on the calendar to the Riders. Attendance and ratings will be solid regardless of when we play so it’s just plain smart business to give us the less desirable times and give the premium times to games and teams where it might actually boost attendance/ratings. Yes it’s like being punished for being too devoted to our team but that’s the way it goes.

Second thing I’d like to touch on is what the Riders still need to accomplish before the season starts. This was inspired by some reader comments. There has been much hype and excitement surrounding the Riders based on the coaching staff we assembled and the additions of Labatte and Picard to boost our O-line.

Don’t get me wrong I’m excited about our upcoming season and so far happy with the moves we have made but we still have a long long way to go. Looking at this objectively, we are a team with a completely unproven head coach and aside from the upgrades at OL have either new/unproven guys or status quo at every position. Given that our starting point was worst team in the CFL, we are still a far cry from being able to be cocky or start praising the virtues of Brendan Taman. 

O-line and coaching improvements are great but there are a number of things we still need to address:

D-Line – Essentially we still have the same craptastic D-line as last year. And yet again we are crossing our fingers on Hawkins’ being able to play. Unless you assume that David Veikune or Boooooooooooo Robinson are the second coming of Cam Wake, we still need a lot of work here.

Receivers – Again we are in the exact same point as last year: No Fantuz, crossing our fingers on Rob Bagg being able to play, and no established #2 receiver to take pressure of Dressler and keep Getzlaf where he can actually be useful. The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results so I would hope some changes are coming here.

Linebackers – We need a new starting 3. Granted that 2 of our 3 last year were awful so the bar for improvement is set low but still. As of right now I see us assuming that Kye Stewart and Chris Graham are the answer and doing lord knows what with Sean Lucas’ spot (which is essentially what we did even when Lucas was still manning the spot). I’m a big Stewart fan and like Graham’s potential but just handing them the roles without making them fend off some solid competitions in camp is foolish.

Canadians – This one is purely a numbers thing. So far we have lost Fantuz, Makowsky, Gauthier, Parenteau, Foord, Congi, Hudson, and Tamon George and not re-signed Bell and Mitchell. All we have added is Labatte, Picard, Woldu Newman, Bodnar and Solomon which equals a net loss of 4 Canadians from the roster (probably more when you consider that odds are 1 or 2 of the last 3 won’t make the team). Regardless of who they are or what position they play, we need more Canadian as we are seriously low on Canadian depth.

CFL Ins and Outs

In: QB Levi Brown (free agent signing)
Quick clarification, we signed the white QB who spent time with the Buffalo Bills  not the black 325 pound offensive tackle that was drafted 5th overall in 2005 by the Arizona Cardinals. Regardless of his talent level he’s currently penciled in at #3 on the depth chart purely by default. The fact that he wasn’t good enough for the lowly Bills is somewhat concerning.

In: DL Aaron Hunt, LB Mark Restilli (free agent signing)

In: P Burke Dales (free agent signing)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Trivia Challenge

Since you are likely sick of your family by this point of the Family Day weekend, here's a new trivia challenge to help distract you for a bit.

Today's challenge is Saskatchewan Roughriders who have won League Awards. It's a relatively easy since our despite our long and storied history, this franchise has an amazingly low number of trophies... our best award category, the Tom Pate Memorial Award is the only one that doesn't centre on onfield achievement.

Good Luck

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Sentimonies: Fantuz, Makowsky and Free Agency

I hope you understand how rare this situation is. Typically I avoid working on the weekends like the plague (just ask Mrs. Prophet) but given the flurry of big news I should probably make an attempt to provide my thoughts on the goings on beyond just a point form summary of transactions.

Please note that I’m just starting my second coffee of the day so blog quality may be worse than the low levels you’ve already become accustomed to.

Gene Makowsky
I think it’s fitting to start with the retirement of one of the all time great Riders in franchise history after 17 seasons. 5 time CFL All Star, 7 Time West All Star, Grey Cup Champion, 5 time team nominee for Top Lineman, 3 time West Nominee, 2 time Most Outstanding Lineman... and more games played in Green and White than anyone else. He will go down as arguably the top Lineman in franchise history and will be called to Hall of Fame some day.

IN this day and age it’s so rare to see someone play all their university and pro ball in the same place. Makowsky spend his football career and green and you could tell just by looking at him that he could not have been prouder to do so.

If there is one image of his storied career that I will always remember it is this moment.

Andy Fantuz
Months of furious speculation, rumours, freak outs hatred, and a whole other range of emotions finally came to an end when Andy Fantuz signed a 4 year deal with Hamilton. It sucks to lose a player of his calibre but I’m not mad and am not vowing to hate him with every fibre of my being. To me the contrast in Riderville are crazy: on one hand we are rejoicing that Bendon Labatte spurned many attempts by the team that drafted him to accept a lucrative offer from a team right close to home and on the other hand we are polishing our pitchforks and lighting our torches because Fantuz did the exact same thing. It just sucks to be on the losing end of that equation.

I think Fantuz was a once in a generation type talent and he will be missed but we will be able to make do without him. I will chose to remember all the great things he did as a Rider and thank him for it. While I won’t go as far to wish him luck (other than to say good luck putting up with Burris for a whole season)... I will say that I am a well wisher in that I don’t wish him any specific harm.

Acquisitions And Departure
Overall I think Taman did a decent job in free agency (if you know how much i hate Taman, you’ll know how much it took for me to type that). Our O-line was about to qualify as a historical landmark so swapping out Gauthier, Parenteau and Geno for Picard, Labatte and whoever the new tackle is should go a long way to improving our run game as well as giving Durant a better chance of not getting killed on every drop back. Investing in the big boys in the trenches is always a smart investment (especially when they aren’t all the wrong side of 40). Thumbs up Labatte who is one of the premiere young OL in the league and Dominic (Jean Luc) Picard who is a centre who can actually snap (novel concept).

We still need to address our D-line as well as find an impact receiver to compliment Dressler and keep Getzlaf as the #3 where he does his best work but so far i think the team is moving in a positive direction... At least on paper.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free Agency Rundown So Far

There has been a ridiculous amount of things going on over the past few days (as expected) so I’m going to do this post in 2 parts. The first part today will be just a rundown of all the goings on. Tomorrow I’ll be back with my thoughts and general smart ass remarks. There’s just been too many big stories to comment on all at once.

Sign OL Dominic Picard, OL Brendon Labatte and DB Paul Woldu
Re-signed Tristan Jackson
Gene Makowsky (that’s future hall of famer Gene Makowsky to you) retired
Signed WR Justin Harper

Re-signed DB Ryan Phillips and Dante Marsh
RB Jamal Lee retired
RB Stu Foord added
Signed DB Byron Parker. Rich Stubler loves Parker so he will be a natural fit in BC.

Extended LB Justin Conn and DE Charleston Hughes’ contract
Signed Australian punter named Scott Crough
Extended K Rene Paredes
DBs IMP Andre Clarke and IMPs Quincy Butler, Brent Vinson

Swooped DL Don Oramasionwu (the heir to Doug Brown) and WR Greg Carr (despite the fact that he had verbally agreed to re-sign) from the Bombers.
Lost Jerome Messam to the Miami Dolphins
Sign DL Kommoyan Quaye
Sign WR Cay Koch – Tillman recruited him. Made sense for him to go there since we apparently no longer care about him.

Can’t be very happy. In addition to losing Oramasionwu and Carr, as mentioned above, also lost Labatte.
Re-signed OL Steve Morley and Glenn January as well QB Alex Brink
Sign LS Jordan Matechuck (fresh of legal troubles due to steroid possession)

Signed OL Marc Parenteau
Sign QB Adam Tafralis, WR Dontrelle Inman
Signed Jason Barnes (now have an Edm connection with Ray, Mann and Barnes)
Re-signed LB Jason Pottinger and DB Willie Pile
Signed QB Jarious Jackson(BC), OL Andre Jones (BC)

Signed Andy Fantuz to a 4 year deal worth $190k per season with a 6 figure signing bonus
Signed OL Tim O’Neil (Cal) and DL Greg Peach (Edm)
Extended LB Ike Brown through 2014
Extended FB Darcy Brown through 2012
Signed Kevin Eiben

Signed LB Rod Davis. Huge boost to their defense. Davis was the premiere defensive player available.