Monday, November 28, 2022

Monday Morning Sentimonies: The Men Who Would Be OC

The offseason is officially upon and pre-Christmas the big push is to fill coaching vacancies. Montreal and Ottawa are working on Head Coaches, the Riders, of course are looking for an OC.

 As a side note, I find a hilarious bit of irony in the fact that Danny Maciocia (a man who inexplicably kept getting promoted despite sucking as his current role) is considering Jason Maas (a man who failed miserably as our OC) as his next head coach. There was an old article on Maciocia and Maas’ relationship back whenMaas was still a QB in Hamilton. Do yourself a favour and read it. Its a wild ride covering everything from Maas saving his per diem and just bringing random food on road trips with him, to him trying to sell homemade jerky to his teammates to this really… umm.. different quote by Maciocia about Maas. 

"I miss him. I care for him. I love him a lot. I try to talk to him only once a week. There's days where I think about him. I want to call and then I tell myself, 'No, I just talked to him yesterday. Just don't bother him."

I think I just digressed from my digression. Back to the Rider’s OC. 

I’ll go through the potential candidates in a second but first I need to remind you just how undesirable our OC job is right now. We have no QB, no O-line and our Head Coach is in the final year of his contract and may not see Labour Day with a slow start to 2023. So we probably won’t want to offer more than a 1 year contract. All goes to say we might not be picking from the cream of the crop if our candidates have other, less crappy job options. LaPo already wisely decided to sit on his couch getting paid by Ottawa rather then come work for us.

Khari Jones – The most experienced. Good offensive mind. Players love him. In 2021 as Head Coach of the Als, they were second in the league in points. Downside is a proven guy like him will want $$ and multi-year contract. Also, as good of a guy as Dickenson is, I really can’t see him hiring a guy who has the credentials to step in and replace him given his less than certain job security.

Marc Muller – The potential of the grandson of Ron Lancaster (and a decorated U of R alum) coming to coach for the Riders has some people salivating. Mueller is unproven as an OC but is viewed as a high potential up and comer who has been steadily climbing the coaching ranks. I like that he at least isn’t just recycling the same old coaches. But I honestly can’t see him leaving the stability and success of the Stamps for us right now. The day may come but I don’t see it now. I’m not leaving the Stamps without a 2 year deal and our Dickenson can’t offer that. 

Pete Costanza – Well respected veteran offensive assistant (with a killer last name to boot). Spent a decade in Calgary under Hufnagel and was on the staff of both of the last Grey Cup champs. He’s never been a CFL OC but has a resume worthy of the chance. He’s probably a good balance between a fully qualified guy like Khari and newbie like Mueller.

Marty Costello – 7 years in Winnipeg. 5 as their OL coach under O’Shea. Also, while I have done no research I assume he is a descendant of Lou Costello so that should make him hilarious. Costello is another guy not proven as an OC but respected enough that his chance is coming. I will just point out that while I think OL coaching is very important and a competent OL coach should have gotten something more out of our OL, assuming Costello will instantly make our OL as good as Winnipeg is laughable. Somewhat easier to coach the best OL in the league when you a roster loaded with all-stars and arguably the best tackle in the last decade. Let’s see you do it with literal garbage at your disposal. I don’t think Costello is high on our list and I don’t think he leaves Winnipeg either. 

Kelly Jeffrey – Based on how 2022 went, it should surprise no one that the least qualified candidate is current the odds on favourite. Not to disrespect Jeffrey (who does have a ton of college experience) but tough to sell Rider Nation on a guy with 2 years CFL experience as an RB coach as the guy to save our offense. Dickenson must see some crazy potential in him… that or we just like him because he’s already under contract so we don’t need to worry about offering him a 2 year deal. Hiring Kelly is swinging for the fences. If it works out, Dickenson looks like a genius. If it fails, then Jeffrey will have company in unemployment.

If I’m ranking my preference: Khari, Costanza, Mueller, Costello, Jeffrey

If I’m ranking my gut on who we actually hire: Jeffrey, Costanza, Khari, Mueller, Costello.

Monday, November 21, 2022

14th Annual Rider Prophet Awards

Bless you Argos. A lot went wrong this season but seeing the Bombers not win a Grey Cup in Regina certainly made for a happy ending for those of us in attendance. Though Toronto did try pretty much everything in their power to lose that game.

Each year at the end of the season, we pause to honour the best and worst in the CFL. Now these lack the professionalism and desirability of most mainstream awards.

This year’s award winners get a gift basket of fireworks donated by the Riders. They have used a record low number of them to celebrate scoring plays over the past 2 years and need to unload them before they expire. Winners assume all liability related to the used of their prize.

Let’s get to the awards.

Best Player Name

Generally this one goes to either a name that’s super hard to pronounce or is something I can make penis jokes about. This yeah I’m going in a different direction.

Riders’ draft pick Diego Allatore-Montoya. Fans of the Princess Bride (which should quite frankly be everyone) will understand when I say that all his name made me think was “My name is Diego Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”

Previous Winners: Luther Hakunavanhu, Guillermo Villabos, Armegedon Draughns, Rakeem Cox, Akawasi Owusu-Ansah, Lirim Hajrullahu, SirVincent Rogers, Drew Willy, Bear Woods, Solomon Elimimian, Craphonso Thorpe, Charleston Hughes, Chijioke Onyenegecha

Quote of the Year

I could pretty much give this award to any member of the Rider organization for any aspect related to their response to the Marino incident. I am not a PR guy by trade but can tell you that was pretty much a playbook of how not to handle a controversy. The shining example of this was Coach Dickenson’s response to allegations of racism on the part of Marino.

“He’s not a racist … He is engaged to a black woman, just so people know that. His best friend is an African-American.”

 A variation of this response has been used over the years “I don’t hate poor people, some of my best friends are poor”, “I’m not racist, my underpaid cleaning staff are all coloured”, etc… It has never worked. Ever. I don’t understand why people keep trying to use it. Dickenson later apologized for the comment. It was really fitting microcosm of the entire season.

Previous Winners: Tom Velessi, Cody Fajardo, Dave Dickenson, Kavis Reed/Jacques Chapdelaine, Greg Quick, Solomon Elimimian, Ed Hervey, Joe Mack, Henry Burris, Eddie Johnson, Jason Clermont, Mike Abou-Mechrek x2

Play of the Year

I have been watching the CFL a long time. While I know I haven’t seen everything, I have seen a lot of things spanning all the whacky things that can happen in the Canadian game. So for something to the be a first for me is quite and accomplishment.

We had one of the those this year on August 12 in a game between the Ti-Cats and Argonauts. The Argos took a delay of game penalty… on the opening kickoff!! How inept do you have to be to manage that? Sadly, that “inept team” won the Grey Cup and the Riders were many levels of awfulness below that.

Botched Call of the Year

This year we are going with a call off the field vs. on. Now it’s a widely known fact that CFL discipline is ridiculously soft and wildly inconsistent. That’s just the standard but I want to recognize one in particular that stood out from the rest.

Adarius Pickett was fined for two separate high hits in a game against Ottawa in October. He was actually also fined for violating the league’s media policy. That’s 3 separate infractions, 2 dangerous plays. So it was completely wrong (yet expected) that he only got a fine. But what raises this from normal CFL ridiculous to award worthy is that the very next week, in the first quarter of the game, Pickett did it again! So that’s 3 high hits in 2 weeks. Surely after a fine last week as suspension was in order?

Nope. Another fine!!! Apparently the only thing that makes dangerous hits suspendable is flexing, saying something about someone’s heritage and public uproar. Actual player safety is not a consideration unless it’s a convenient excuse.

Most Insulted Sports Figure

There was a lot to insult in 2022… a lot. So to rise to the top with so many insults out there takes a special level of futility.

Special level of futility accurately describes the Riders O-line. The only thing that outnumbered the sacks they allowed was the curse words I uttered in their direction.  This is a continuation of last year when the Offensive Tackles specifically were the most insulted. This year was a real team effort.

Previous Winners: Riders Offensive Tackles, John Ryan, Brandon Bridge, Steve McAdoo, The Riders Secondary, Any Rider QB not named Durant, Pat Neufeld, Chris Getzlaf, Ryan Dinwiddie, Jim Daley, Michael Bishop x 2, Marcel Bellefeuille

Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year

This award winner should come as no surprise to anyone.

With 47% of the votes, you the fans have named Garett Marino as the Douchebag of the Year. It actually marks only the second time ever where a current Rider has won the voting. We are blindly loyal to our team most times so when even we admit someone is a douche it’s a pretty scathing indictment.

Previous Winners: Andrew Harris, Simoni Lawrence, Jason Maas x2, Cory Chamblin, Chris Jones, Jon Cornish x2, Henry Burris, Dwight Anderson, Mike Kelly, Jason Jimenez, Rob Murphy

Monday, November 14, 2022

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Grey Cup Week

Raise you hands if you thought that 2022 would end with Andrew Harris entering Mosaic Stadium as a fan favourite. You’re a liar if you put your hand up but here were are. It should surprise no one that I am firmly on team “anyone but Winnipeg” and I hope many of you will be joining me on that team. While I have nothing but respect for guys like Demski, Collaros and Jefferson as people… I’m a jaded bitter Rider fan and if I can’t be happy then I want others to share in my misery.

I don’t love that my hopes in that regard rest with McLeod Bethel-Thompson but beggars can’t be chooser. Besides, I fondly remember that in 2016 and 2017 the team that won the Grey Cup was decidedly not the best team overall but just happened to be the best team that day.

Honestly I am excited about the Grey Cup festivities. Now let’s keep in mind that present-day Prophet cannot party quite as hard as Prophet circa 2003 or 2013. Back then Grey Cup meant a multi-day bender. In 2009, I ended up at a downtown Asian karaoke bar and then got lost trying to find my way back to my friends. Good times.  

Pacing with be the word of the week now though. Which will be a lot easier with the Riders in it. I say that now but don’t be surprised if a headline come Friday is about some drunk dude in a beard and robe blowing out his hip on the tube slide trying to outrace and group of children. 

I will be out and about taking in the festivities and if any readers will be there as well, hit me up (in the comments or on Twitter). I’d love to meet up and have a drink. One of my favourite things is finding out how people end up reading the barely coherent football ramblings of a guy who plays dress-up. Though I am aware that by Regina media standards that ranks easily in the top 5 in terms of credibility.

 We may not always play great football, but dammit people in the province know how to party so let’s show the country one hell of a time. I’ll be the guy in the #23 Prophet jersey repeatedly requesting the DJ (or live band) play Hall and Oates.

Also, one last plug to vote in the Fan's Choice Douchebag of the Year Award. (go to RiderProphet on Twitter). 

Friday, November 11, 2022

2022 Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year – Vote Now

Each year we allow you the reader to vote on who deserves special recognition for their outstanding achievements in the field of douchebaggery. While an online poll may not be the most statistically valid method, I have never had to rescind a Douchebag award hours after it was announced so I’m still miles ahead of certain unnamed sports leagues.

I am assuming that this year’s vote is a formality but that is up you the fans to decide who will join the likes of Jon Cornish, Henry Burris, Jason Maas and Simoni Lawrence and be forever etched in history as a Douchebag.

This year’s nominees:

Garett Marino – If I have to explain the reasons he is a nominee then you have clearly mistakenly clicked on the wrong blog. Let’s just say I’m sure his brother Dan is very disappointed.

Duke Williams – He hit a guy with his helmet in warmups. He was alleged (again) to spit on people (let’s be serious be probably did) and he took a penalty in a game he didn’t even dress in. This is what his massive contract bought us as opposed to the onfield success we expected.

Andrew Harris – Did nothing particularly douchy this year but he is the defending champion and I feel deserves the right to defend his title. He is more nominated for generally giving off vibes of being a douchy guy.

Andrew Pickett – Got fined for two separate high hits in the same game and then the very next game went out and delivered another dirty hit.

Jason Maas – Let’s be honest, you hate him. And if he wins this year, he would become the only 3 time Douchebag of the Year ever… and we all know how much Maas loves 3s.

Other – comment below to do a write in vote.

Vote here: or on my Twitter (but do it quick before the company implodes)

This award along with all the other illustrious Rider Prophet Awards will be handed out after the Grey Cup.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Monday Morning Sentimonies: What a week

Tuesday we finally found out who would take the fall for the debacle that was 2022. Normally that would have been the biggest news story of the week. But the CFL did the Riders a solid and just kept doing things so dumb that come Friday, firing a couple coaches seemed down right boring by comparison. There was the all-star fiasco. Schaefer-Baker will always have those 2 hours where he was an all-star. Even the revised all-star list is somewhat suspect as Mario Alford has good odds of being named the Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in the entire CFL yet somehow is not an all-star.

Then there was the long, long, long awaited half time show announcement. You knew it had to be good because all the really good news is announced Friday at the end of the day. My honest reaction was… who? And like not even sarcastically, actually had no clue who these people were. Once it was explained to me, its not awful (not great, but not awful). But having to take time to explain who they are kinda takes some of the excitement out of the announcement much like having to explain a punchline does to a joke.

But I’m sure you all want to know my thoughts on our firings… and if you don’t then I question what exactly brought you to read this. Looking for some culinary tips perhaps?

I was not at all surprised that O’Day stayed. We can’t afford to fire him and generally a GM gets two head coaches before they become the fall guy. Also, if you exclude the O-Line one could argue O’Day has done well. Back to back West final appearances. Good recruiting (Hickson, Milligan, Lanier, Robertson, Clark). Brought in guys like Sankey, Moncrief and Duke (which failed miserably in retrospect but was a big move at the time). He has built a solid team… that happens to be shackled with the worst O-line in football. Now I will give him a partial pass for the OL sucking in 2021. We unexpectedly lost LaBatte and Cofield and Vaughn blew his shoulder all right before the season. He had a decent OL in 2019 and had bad luck. But the 2022 mess is all on him. Rogers was a trainwreck, Evan Johnson can’t pass block, he paid close to $150K for Jamal Campbell to be not good enough to start on the worst OL in the document history of the CFL and we recruited exactly zero competent OL prospects.

I was a bit surprised Dickenson stayed. I have no knowledge of the goings on inside that locker room but it just seemed like he lost the group. Couldn’t control Marino, couldn’t control Duke, insisted on playing a crippled QB and then gave him a “vet day” when he did finally bench him. Weird stuff for the supposed leader of the team. Also, he fired McAdoo and brought in Maas. Year 1 of that gave us a QB and OC who were clearly not on the same page and the 7th best offense. So we gave him a two year extension!  This year the offense and lack of being on the same page didn’t magically fix itself (which seems to have been our plan), they got worse. So we are going to let Dickeson hire a 3rd OC in his 4th season and assume this time he knows what he’s doing this time? Also, as others have pointed out, both Dickenson and O’Day are precariously in the final year of their contract. Is a competent OC candidate really going to come here knowing that the whole regime might be blown up by Labour Day? Can we give an OC a 2 year contract with a HC on a year 1 deal? Very problematic situation. If Mark Mueller is as smart as we give him credit for is he really going to just happily leave Calgary for this shit show?

Maas was a massive failure. I thought he could be a good OC when we hired him. He has never produced more than the 7th best offense while here. Admittedly its not his fault his OL had all the blocking skills of cattle who are missing 3 of their 4 legs but his coaching did not improve anything. I think Steven Sorrells should be ecstatic that someone actually paid him to coach an OL that set a record for being the worst ever. A ham sandwich would have been just as effective.

One last thing I want to comment on was something Craig Reynolds said. He was asked about a perceived disconnect with the fans. He downplayed it but I can tell you its very really. Obviously winning helps the connection but the word I would use for the Riders and have for a while now is arrogance. **Caveat here, the players still do tremendous work in the community. Darnell Sankey was a living saint for what he did here. Dan Clark is as committed to good work in this province as anyone. Morrow and Schaefer-Baker made a devoted for life out of my son just by simply taking a moment to connect with him while signing his jersey. I’m not talking about the player, I’m talking about the highest levels of the organization.**

Its not entirely their fault, this organization is a product of the 2004-2013 run where you could literally put a Rider logo on a dog turd and people would push their grandma out of the way to pay money for it. You simply didn't have to try to make money. You could do whatever you want and people would happily go along with it. But the times have changed and the Riders have not. Where you see teams like BC and Edmonton actively trying to engage fans and improve their product the Riders haven’t been trying for years.

Here a just a few visible symptoms of the arrogance I am talking about:

-        Charging $5 per ticket to print paper copies of tickets. A move that disproportionately negatively impacts old people. Old people who have probably supported this organization through some pretty rough times spanning many decades. Thanks for your support gramps now pay up.

-        Remember when one of the options for Season ticket holder refunds during Covid was “just give us your money”? Literally they just asked us to hand over money to them and thought that was normal.

-        Their “new and innovative” theme nights this season were: country night, Canada Day and pink day… the same thing we have done every year for a decade.

-        The magnets they gave away at one of the home games. Its insulting to me as a fan that someone who the Riders pay money to do marketing actually looked at those magnets and said this is something that will improve our fans’ experience.

-        Roy Shivers is not in the Paza of Honour. Not because he is not deserving (he’s in the freakin’ Hall of Fame for pete sake) but because certain board members don’t like him and would be butt-hurt if he was recognized.

That’s the arrogance I see driving the disconnect. All the market research in world won't fix that.

One final note: Stay tuned as voting opens tomorrow for the Annual Fans’ Choice Douchebag of the Year Award. It might be the biggest foregone conclusion ever this year but it’s a fan voting award and dammit if we aren’t going to do it anyway.