Friday, 30 April 2010

As the Draft Nears

We are less than 48 hours from the 2010 CFL Draft (which can be seen live on TSN beginning at 12:00PM EST), and with that comes a lot of chatter about what teams might do.

One team in a very advantageous spot is Saskatchewan. They have the 2nd and 4th overall picks and could use them on two very talented Canadian prospects, or they could flip one or both of those picks in a trade. This is where things get interesting.

According to Roughriders GM Brenden Taman, the Riders have been offered trades for those picks, offers that the team is "seriously considering." I wonder who has contacted the Green Riders about their picks? Perhaps it was the Tiger-Cats.

Obviously, this is simply speculation on my part, but I would be shocked to find out that one of those trade offers hasn't come from Tiger-Cat GM Bob O'Billovich. The Tabbies don't have a 1st-round pick – and don't make their first pick until 12th overall – so the team should definitely be exploring any options that could have them move back into the 1st round. I don't want the team to sell the farm to move up, but moving is something the team should at least be looking at.

The issues are: what are they offering to move up, and who do they want to take? Many are saying that it could be Guelph Place Kicker/Punter Rob Maver. I'd love to see Maver in the Black & Gold, but I don't see how the team can justify parting with any player on its roster to draft a kicker. Maver is great, but he's not worth a Defensive Linemen or Defensive Back.

Of course, there is always the chance that another player has caught the eye of the Tiger-Cats GM, and he may be willing to part with a current player to acquire whoever it may be. I trust that Bob O'Billovich will make the right call. I just wonder if that call will be for the 12th overall pick or for one much earlier.

All the excitement begins at 12:00PM. I'll be watching and waiting to see what Obie will do.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

CFL Expansion: The Dream and the Realities

CFL expansion is always a hot-button topic among fans. A consensus is hardly ever reached on what cities would make the best candidates for expansion. While some cities seem unlikely (London, Windsor), others seem realistic (Quebec City, Moncton/Halifax), and still others seem all but guaranteed (Ottawa), the topic of expansion seems to bring about more opinions than there are people. This year's Touchdown Atlantic game in Moncton between the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos has revitalized discussion among fans on possible expansion.

Being a huge fan of the CFL, I also have a very detailed opinion of how I hope the CFL will look one day in the not-so-distant future. I put extra emphasis on hope. I fully believe that my scenario is possible, but unlikely. First, I'll propose my dream scenario, and then I will submit for you the more realistic one. Don't worry, my dear reader, there are no U.S.-based teams to be found in either proposal. No one is silly enough to want to revisit that nightmare... I hope.

The Dream Scenario

I would one day love to see a 12-team, 3-division Canadian Football League. The divisions would be (expansion teams in bold):

West: BC, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan
Central: Hamilton, London, Toronto, Winnipeg
East: Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City

As you can see, the CFL would expand to four new locales: London, Ontario; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Ottawa, Ontario; and Quebec City, Quebec.

This to me would be the perfect size for the CFL. Existing rivalries (Hamilton-Toronto, Edmonton-Calgary) could continue, and new ones could be created. Imagine the heat between Montreal and Quebec City. It could easily build on the bitter feelings brought out during the heyday of the Canadiens and Nordiques in the NHL. Hamilton and London could build up a nice rivalry as well.

In this plan every major region in Canada is represented. The CFL would truly be a Canadian league, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The playoff format could allow for 8 teams to advance: the top two teams in each division, as well as two "wild card" teams being selected by record. This would rid the CFL of a bye week in the playoffs, as well as pave the way for Grey Cups that we haven't been able to see because of the current East-West playoff structure. Could you imagine a Hamilton-Toronto or Edmonton-Calgary Grey Cup? How cool would that be?

A CFL that has 12 teams, broken down into 3 divisions, would be great. I realize that this is not likely to occur any time in the near future, but this is my dream scenario.

The Realistic Scenario

Most likely, if the CFL was to expand, we'd see a 10-team, 2-division league, without any major changes to the playoff format. In this (more likely) proposal, the CFL would be configured as such (expansion teams in bold):

West: BC, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg
East: Halifax/Moncton, Hamilton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto

I put Halifax/Moncton because the Touchdown Atlantic game this season is being played in Moncton, but Halifax has a much larger population, so they would be a good candidate to house a team. I can't choose which one would be better, so I just put both, mostly to hedge my bets. Ottawa, once again, springs up. It seems highly likely that we will see another 9-team CFL in the next 2 or 3 years, with Ottawa already being conditionally awarded a franchise in 2008.

The playoff format, which I drastically changed in my previous scenario, would stay the same way that it is currently constituted. Three teams from each division would make the playoffs, with the top seed in each division receiving a bye.

This scenario seems the most likely for a number of reasons. One, Ottawa is getting another team. That is happening sooner rather than later. Depending on the success of the Touchdown Atlantic game in September, Moncton or Halifax could have a team within the next 5-10 years.

But this option is more likely based on what is unlikely in my scenario, namely London getting a team. As much as it pains me to say it, the weak link, at least financially, in the CFL is Southern Ontario. The Argos and Tiger-Cats have trouble attracting fans and are consistently losing money. There are two reason I can think of as to why this occurs. First, the teams haven't been very good. The Argos have the worst combined record the past two seasons (winning a total of 7 games), and the Cats have been one of the worst teams in the CFL for the past decade. The 2009 season showed that the Cats might be back to being competitive, but how long that will last is anyone's guess. Second, and this strictly deals with Toronto, the CFL is seen as "small time" compared to the NFL. People in Toronto harbour delusions of grandeur that they will one day have an NFL franchise. It's a pipe dream, but one that the people in Toronto won't give up. These are the factors that make me believe that putting another team in Southern Ontario is unlikely. Why split an already small audience even further?

With all that said, it looks like the best we can all hope for is a 10-team league, which would be great, just not perfect.

The one wild card in all this Quebec City. The province of Quebec is a hotbed for football right now. Laval University and the University of Montreal have great football programs. The Alouettes, who play at Percival Molson Stadium on the campus of McGill University, consistently sell it out. Striking while the iron is hot and getting a team in the provincial capital of Quebec seems like a no-brainer. I wouldn't be surprised if one day a team is playing in Quebec City.

Would moving to an 11-team league force the CFL to consider expanding to one other location to even out the numbers? For years the CFL had 9 teams, so 11 wouldn't be weird by CFL standards, but I hope that looking for another possible place to play, to get the teams to an even 12, would be in the cards. Maybe, just maybe, my dream scenario will play out one day.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the 8-team league? Are you opposed to any expansion? Do you have a place in Canada that you think would be better than the places I have proposed? Let me hear what you think.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Ticatfans.com

As I have said before, I spend an awful lot of time on the Ti-Cat forum, as I find it a cool place to interact with Tiger-Cat fans, even if some of them can be a bit obnoxious. If you would rather not deal with the abrasive personalities that try to dominate the discussion over there, then I suggest checking out another forum that also caters to our Tiger-Cat obsession (because face it, if you're reading this you're a tad obsessed):

ticatfans.com

It's a pretty cool place to connect with fans of the Tiger-Cats and discuss the various goings-on of the team. They were even kind enough to give your humble scribe a little shout out, for which I am thankful. Hopefully some of their users will come over here and enjoy what I have to offer, and I implore my readers to venture over there to check out what they have to offer.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

In Praise of Duane Forde

With the 2010 CFL Draft less than a week away, I feel like I need to give a shout out to the guy who has been invaluable in getting me ready for the draft. I'm talking, of course, about Duane Forde.

Forde played 12 years in the CFL with four different teams (his final stop was Hamilton) before retiring following the 2002 season. Since his retirement, Forde has gone into broadcasting, and now contributes to the CFL on TSN.

His main area of expertise is the draft, and this is where his knowledge has been invaluable to me. I know what I know because Duane Forde knows what he knows. I'm not going to assess his ability to judge talent, but he seems to know precisely what he is talking about, and does so with conviction. I have the utmost faith when it comes to Canadian players and the draft.

Forde, himself a Canadian, having been born into Toronto, and having went to the University of Western Ontario, is without a doubt one of the most knowledgeable people on the topic of CIS football. Before going to TSN, Forde worked as a commentator for CIS games on The Score.

Forde's knowledge of football at the university level is second to none, and I trust pretty much everything he has to say on the subject. I would like to thank Duane Forde for his tireless work in educating many, including myself, on upcoming Canadian players from the CIS.

PREVIOUS: Ti-Cats Draft Needs

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The American Perception

We as Canadians are always very mindful of our neighbours to the south. We are influenced daily by American culture. We scarf down American literature, television and movies, as well as American sports. One area that we have been able to forge our own identity is in football.

The Canadian Football League is uniquely Canadian. We play on a larger field, we ensure employment for Canadian-born or -raised talent, and we have a different set of rules that govern our game. It is this set of rules that has made it hard for American-trained players to come up and dominate in the CFL. It takes years of practice and learning to excel at Canada's brand of football.

It's why I get angry when I see quotes like this:
"If I go to the CFL, I'll have the opportunity to go up there and play a lot of football and do what I did in college."
And this:
"Matt can take over the CFL."
Those two quotes, one by former USF Bulls star QB Matt Grothe and the other by his agent, John Phillips, come from an article on Grothe's professional football future. Grothe is on the Tiger-Cats negotiation list and is being touted as a possible prospect to land on the Ti-Cats practice roster for 2010.

Grothe was a great player for the Bulls during his collegiate career. He combined for more total yards than anyone in the history of the Big East Conference and will go down as one of the greatest QBs in USF history. Grothe has immense talent, and as a friend of Doug Flutie, who is arguably the greatest player in CFL history, Grothe might have some insight into how to successfully transition from the NCAA to the CFL.

Then you read the quotes above and wonder if he sees the CFL as some bush league that any American-bred player can immediately conquer. It's that arrogance that has sent many a player back to the good ol' US of A with his tail between his legs.

Just last season former Rice star Chase Clement came to Hamilton thinking he could walk into the starter's role and left less than two days later. Some say it was because he didn't like Canada, while others say he left to preserve his status as a legend in his hometown. Either way, he didn't make it in Canada after being told he'd be a star just by showing up.

For every Doug Flutie (Boston College), Danny McManus (Florida State) or Warren Moon (Washington) who made his mark in the CFL after coming from big-time NCAA programs, there is a slew of guys who just couldn't make it. Probably the highest-profile "bust" was Ricky Williams. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 at Texas, had a very productive career (and still continues to) in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins, and yet failed to produce anything significant during his one-year stint in Toronto.

Not only does history show that it's not that easy, but it's not like the Tiger-Cats don't have any QBs on the roster. I'm sure Kevin Glenn, Quinton Porter, Adam Tafralis and Jason Boltus must just love hearing that Grothe will come up here and simply take over. Glenn has nearly 10 years of experience behind him and was once nominated for Most Outstanding Player. Porter, Tafralis and Boltus haven't been here nearly as long, but they still have more experience than Grothe. Remember how well it turned out for the last QB to come to Steeltown thinking he would be the saviour? At least he had experience behind him (and an MOP award to his credit).

The battlefield is littered with the bodies of great American players who couldn't pass muster in the CFL. It's time for the American perception of the Canadian Football League to change, and change drastically. It looks like Grothe will find out the hard way that it's not as easy to become a star in Canada as his people have made it seem.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The Fickle Nature of Tiger-Cat Fans

It has been a long time since I posted anything, and I apologize for those who have been looking for content and have found nothing. The CFL has slow periods every now and then, and it seems as if we are in the midst of one. The draft is almost here, training camp is just around the corner, and before we realize it, the season will be in full swing. With that, I now bring you my first piece of writing in a week. I'll try my best not to have such a long dry spell in the future, but if there's no news, there's no news.

So to pass the time I have been spending more and more time on the Ti-Cat and CFL forums talking about various topics, none of which I thought required a post by yours truly. People talking about the new stadium, our burgeoning rivalry with the Blue Bombers, and just general chatter about the goings-on in the Canadian Football League have been topics that have tended to dominate the forum as of late.

One topic, however, sparked a bit of anger in me (and actually got me reprimanded by Ti-Cat owner Bob Young), and that topic was Quinton Porter.

I'm not going to spend an entire post discussing Quinton Porter, but the debate that raged on the Tiger-Cat forum got me thinking about the nature of Tiger-Cat fans. This one poster is steadfast in their belief that Porter is, has been and always will be a terrible Quarterback. That Porter will never develop and that the Cats would be better off in trading him for a bag of balls or cutting him outright. I'd even hazard to say that this poster would be fine with the Cats just receiving the bag and making the Cats supply their own balls. I spent the better part of my week trying to show this poster the error of their ways. I wasn't trying to change their opinion, just show them that their opinion wasn't fact and that they could be wrong. After trading insults back and forth (which resulted in the aforementioned reprimand) I decided I had had enough and stopped participating in the discussion.

I understand and accept that most, if not all, sports fans are fickle to a certain degree. Tiger-Cat fans are no different. After years of... what's worse than mediocrity? Anyway, Ti-Cat fans are understandably frustrated after dealing with losing season after losing season. It seems that that frustration has turned Hamilton fans into the Canadian equivalent of Philadelphia fans. Harsh? Perhaps, but here me out.

I have noticed that Ti-Cat fans have been very quick to anoint a player, usually a Quarterback, as the next saviour (see Printers, Casey; Maas, Jason), and when that player doesn't immediately become the second coming of Danny McManus the fans turn on him almost as quickly as they crowned him. Of course I'm talking about early Danny McManus, not the guy that was mercilessly booed out of Ivor Wynne Stadium during the latter years of his tenure in Steeltown because, clearly, that guy sucked. (Please note my sarcasm.)

This is the type of attitude that I am talking about. It seems as if a guy can go from hero to goat faster in Hamilton than in any other city. It's this fickleness that makes us all look bad as fans. It seems as if the Ti-Cat faithful lack a little thing called patience. It may be hard to practice patience when the team is mired in a slump so bad it requires serious, long-term psychotherapy, but we should at least be able to allow for longer than a season.

This is why the topic of Porter's skills (or lack thereof, according to one Ti-Cat forum poster) sets off the response in me that it does. Do I know for sure that Quinton Porter will become the next great Tiger-Cat Quarterback? No! Does anyone know that? No! But does anyone know that Porter is destined to join the many other forgotten players who journeyed north of the 49th parallel? No!

And that's the point I'm trying to make. We, as fans, need to be vocal and opinionated, but we also need to be rational. We can all be a bit quick to judge, but it is the irrational few who have turned it into an art form, and they are also the ones that make us more moderate fans look like lunatics as well. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is what got us stuck in this cycle of atrociousness, which finally looks to be ending. We need to give players time to acclimate themselves and see what they can do. A little patience goes a long way. A wise man once said, "Patience is a virtue." It seems as if it is a virtue that some Tiger-Cat fans do not possess.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Bombers Release Shabazz

Your hype doesn't last long in the CFL (unless, of course, you're Jesse Lumsden). At the beginning of last season Siddeeq Shabazz was one of the most talked-about defensive players; yesterday he was released.

This is just the most recent in a long line of changes on the defense. First, it was Defensive Coordinator Mark Nelson being replaced by Kavis Reed (uh-oh), then it was Jonathan Hefney, then Gavin Walls, then Barrin Simpson, and now Siddeeq Shabazz.

That is a lot of turnover for a defensive unit that actually wasn't half bad last season. The defense was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable season that saw the Bombers finish 7-11 and miss the playoffs.

Back to Shabazz. The guy is talented, can deliver one heck of a hit and could have been a good player for the Bombers in the future. I really don't understand why he was released. Unless the team is trying to get rid of the players that defined, and I use this term loosely, the "Mike Kelly Era," I don't get why a team would release a player that it just acquired in a trade just over a year ago.

I now begin to wonder, like I do with every good player who gets released, whether or not he'd be a good fit for the Tiger-Cats. While he is talented, I just don't see a spot for him on our roster. He couldn't play Linebacker because those positions are filled by Markeith Knowlton, Jamall Johnson and Otis Floyd. He can't play safety because we got that spot locked up with Dylan Barker and, to a lesser extent, Sandy Beveridge. There really is no role that Shabazz could fill on the Ti-Cat defense.

Obie has a saying, "Better is better," but while I think very highly of Shabazz, I don't think he is better than anyone we currently have at the positions that he plays. I trust if he were added the team would find a place for him, but I will be surprised if he's donning the Black & Gold in 2010.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009: #1

The countdown ends today. I've run down the four best games of the 2009 Hamilton Tiger-Cats' season. Today I unveil #1. Before I do that I'll recap the first four entries on the list:

#5 (Week 2): at BC
#4 (Week 6): vs. Edmonton
#3 (Week 10): vs. Toronto
#2 (Week 19): vs. Winnipeg

And finally, the #1 Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009 is.....

#1 (Week 18): 24-6 WIN vs. Saskatchewan

This was the best game the Cats played all year. They absolutely dominated all three phases of the game and did so for the full 60 minutes. Not only that, but they achieved this against a team that would go on to play in the Grey Cup. Never once did the team relent, or take their foot off the gas. It was full throttle for the entire game. The defense played its best game up to that point. Cobb was a beast, running wild on the Riders' defense. The wind hurt the passing game a bit, but it didn't matter. Making it even more sweet was that this was the final home game of the 2009 regular season, and everyone was sent home happy. When all was said and done on that chilly Halloween afternoon in Hamilton, the Tiger-Cats had played their best game of the 2009 season.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Stadium Fight

I have been wary of actually discussing what is quickly turning into one of the most divisive issues currently being debated amongst Hamiltonians. That issue, of course, is the Pan Am Stadium.

Pan Am Stadium

It's not the stadium itself, but where the stadium should be located that has caused so much consternation. The city has voted on a site in the west harbour, near Bay Street and Barton Street. The Tiger-Cats are not as bullish about this area. The team believes that moving to that location would not satisfy the needs of the team and would be a lateral move from their current home, Ivor Wynne Stadium. Moving from Ivor Wynne to the west harbour would just be going from one money-losing site to another, according to the team.

The city is more concerned with revitalizing the downtown core than making sure the Tiger-Cats are a financially successful business. The city believes that putting the Pan Am Stadium in the west-harbour area would be a step in accomplishing that goal.

I understand the city's reasoning. It's not up to them to make sure that Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young makes money. The city needs to look at the bigger picture, not simply one business.

However, that does not mean that the Tiger-Cats should be forced to move to an area that isn't financially viable for them. When Bob Young bought the team in 2003, he did so with the desire to see a new stadium built for the Tiger-Cats, one that could ensure that he made some money on this venture. If the team believes that moving to the location that the city has chosen doesn't make good financial sense, then why should they move? The team needs to start making money or Bob Young might consider selling or *gasp* moving the team. At the end of the day he's a businessman, and a successful one at that. He will only accept losing money for so long before he decides it's time to move on. As of right now, the Ti-Cats and their partners do not think that they could make enough off additional revenue sources, like naming rights and parking, to make the move to the west harbour work.

While the city wants to take care of the interests of the many, the Tiger-Cats are, and should be, interested in only their own financial well-being. As much as it is not up to the city to make sure the Ti-Cats are successful, it is not up to the Ti-Cats to ensure that businesses around them are successful. Downtown revitalization is key for the city, but means nothing to the team. The team needs as many added revenue streams as they can find in order to make the team financially successful. All the secondary and tertiary off-shoots from a west-harbour stadium do not provide the Tiger-Cats with the additional revenue sources they need to become a profitable business.

Another point of contention, at least among some, seems to be the heavy-handed approach that Hamilton City Council, namely Mayor Fred Eisenberger, seems to be taking in negotiations with the Tiger-Cats regarding the location of the new stadium.

Mayor Eisenberger was quoted as saying that the Tiger-Cats should have little say in the matter because "it's a minority partnership when it comes to the Tiger-Cats." While the mayor is technically correct, for the stadium to have any sort of long-term financial viability, it would need a permanent tenant; that tenant would undoubtedly be the Ti-Cats. I think it is more than a little short-sighted for the major to be calling the Tiger-Cats' participation in the new stadium minor. It also comes off a little smug and arrogant. Not exactly the type of attitude that the mayor of the city should be showing, especially in regards to one of the city's more cherished institutions.

As I said, this is a very heated debate, especially among Tiger-Cat fans. There is currently an 80+ page thread on the Ti-Cat Fan Forum on this topic. You will find, if you decide to check out the thread, that there is a myriad of opinions. There are those that support the west-harbour site, there are those that oppose it, and there are those still who haven't quite decided what they think would be best.

This brings up the question of where I stand. I freely admit that I am part of that third group. I don't think I have enough knowledge of the situation to make an informed decision, nor do I think I am arrogant enough to make such a proclamation. The team and the city employ much more capable people than I to deal with this subject. I will leave it to them to decide the fate of the Pan Am stadium.

That's not to say I don't have opinions on the matter. While I don't like the dictatorial tactics of our city council in attempting to force the west-harbour location on the Tiger-Cats, I understand their need to look at the larger picture of a revitalized downtown core. I also understand team's need to ensure that whichever location the team goes to helps to make the team a profitable venture for owner Bob Young.

For myself, it really doesn't matter where they build a new stadium. Wherever they decide to put it matters little to me. I will make my way to that location to watch the Tabbies play. Where that location will be is currently unknown, but I would hazard a guess that it won't remain that way for much longer.

So that's my take on the whole matter. I'm sure some people will be angry about what I wrote, and some will like it. I'm not claiming to be an expert; I don't have all the information about what is best for all involved. I just went with what I found. If anyone feels the need to blast me or praise me, well, that's what the comment section is for.

Armstead Released (UPDATED)

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that they have released WR/KR Jason Armstead. Armstead played for the Riders in 13 games last season, including the playoffs.

Now I know this will probably get me some hate from Ti-Cat fans, but should Obie make a play? I know Armstead didn't exactly light it up the last time he donned the Black & Gold, but he's still a helluva KR, and that's the one area that we still need to address prior to the start of the 2010 season.

I'm not suggesting that the team will sign Armstead, just floating the idea out there that maybe they should at least think about it. If it comes to be, it comes to be. While I'll admit that it is highly unlikely that Armstead will play for the Cats again, the idea isn't that ridiculous, is it?

UPDATE: OK, yes it is ridiculous. I had no idea that Armstead is facing charges for auto burglary, possession of a stolen gun and felony evading police in Mississippi. Apparently these charges were laid in February, but I never heard anything about it. Forget everything I just wrote. He'll be lucky to avoid jail time, let alone be able to play in the CFL any time soon.

The 2010 Hall of Fame Weekend

It was announced today that Saskatchewan will host the 2010 Canadian Football Hall of Fame weekend in August. It is the Riders' 100th Anniversary, and with former Saskatchewan great Don Narcisse entering the Hall, it seems fitting that the game would be played in Regina.

This marks the third time that Hamilton, which is home to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, will not be hosting the event. Last year the event was held in Winnipeg, and in 2003 the event was held in Calgary.

I understand the league's motivation for taking the Hall of Fame ceremony to different places, but at the same time, it seems odd. The Hall of Fame is in Hamilton, so it only makes sense for the game and ceremony to be held here.

I also don't understand the timing of the event. The NFL makes a big deal out of their Hall of Fame Weekend (granted they make a big deal about everything), and they do so during the pre-season. It helps to maximize coverage, and allows for the inductees and the ceremony to be the centrepiece. The game itself is secondary. The CFL would be wise to adopt this method. Pre-season games are sparsely attended, but if the Tiger-Cats' lone pre-season home game was to also be the Hall of Fame Game, I think attendance would spike, and the game and ceremony could be televised. This would be a great way for the league and the team to add another revenue stream. By having the game during the regular season, fans tend to be more concerned with their team's performance than with honouring the greats of the past.

I think the league is missing out on a great opportunity by holding the ceremony during the regular season. A pre-season, televised Hall of Fame Game and the accompanying ceremony could be another boon, both in terms of finances and in terms of visibility, for the league.

PREVIOUS: Canadian Football Hall of Fame Adds Four New Players

Bellefeuille Extended

First it was the General Manager and now it's the Head Coach. Just days after the Ti-Cats signed GM Bob O'Billovich to a contract extension, the team has announced that they have signed Head Coach Marcel Bellefeuille to one as well.

Just like the Obie signing, I can't praise this enough. I'll admit that I was initially skeptical about Bellefeuille's credentials when he was named Head Coach in 2008, but I have since gotten on board.

The 2009 season helped establish Bellefeuille as one of the best coaches in the CFL. He was nominated for Coach of the Year (an award I believe he should have won) and helped lead the Tiger-Cats back to the playoffs.

I don't want to go overboard here. I felt the same way about former Head Coach Greg Marshall after he did the same thing in 2004 (except he won Coach of the Year), and it wasn't too long before he was fired.

I think the one key difference is O'Billovich. It seems that he and Bellefeuille trust each other completely, and it is that relationship that I think has the Cats poised for success in 2010 and beyond.

This off-season has produced nothing but great news for the Tabbies. I understand after last year expectations are running high, but I think with the way the team is currently assembled, from ownership on down to the ball boys, allows for our collective faith to be justified.

RELATED: In Obie We Trust

Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009: #2

#2 (Week 19) 39-17 WIN at Winnipeg

The only game more important than Labour Day is the Grey Cup. The only way to get to the Grey Cup is to get into the playoffs. The Cats hadn't been to the playoffs since 2004. This win against Winnipeg not only secured the Cats a playoff game, but a home playoff game, which was something the Cats hadn't had since 2001. This game is also famous for the "Boat Celebration." The game started out close, but ended in a rout.

This clinched the Tabbies a playoff spot, and because of that, this game lands at #2 on my list. Only one game from 2009 do I consider better, which will be unveiled tomorrow.

PREVIOUS: #3 (Week 1) vs. Toronto

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The CFL Is Not Immune

While it's not the same doomsday scenario we are all hearing being talked about south of the border, labour unrest has hit the Canadian Football League.

Dave Naylor of TSN and the Globe and Mail wrote an excellent article this morning detailing the likelihood of a work stoppage halting the beginning of the 2010 CFL season. Naylor says that a work stoppage, be it an owners-imposed lockout or player-imposed strike, is possible; it is also highly unlikely. With the huge gains in popularity the CFL has made in the past couple of years it would be completely devastating for the league if it were to shut down, even for a little time.

The league right now is experiencing unprecedented success. TV viewership is up, attendance is up, there is renewed talk of expansion, new stadiums are being discussed in multiple cities (one of them being Hamilton, which is a rather contentious issue that I will be posting about in the near future), and revenues are up. Now is not the time for the CFL to have a work stoppage.

It would seem as if the league and the players understand this. The last time the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expired, the league played that season (2005) under the terms of the expired agreement and agreed to a new one the following off-season. If a deal cannot be reached by the time the current deal expires – which is June 5th – I expect a repeat of 2005.

It seems that the sticking point in negotiations revolves around, what else, player salaries. Currently, players receive 56% of defined revenue that the league generates. The league would like to lower that number. The CFLPA would like for the salary cap to rise from the current $4.2 million per team to $4.7 million. These don't seem like huge hurdles to overcome.

There are obviously other issues that will arise, or have arisen, during the negotiations, but neither the league nor the Players' Association is commenting publicly. It seems as if both sides have taken on an agreement not to negotiate through the media. To them I say, "Bravo." All anyone who follows the NFL has heard the past year and a half is posturing from both the NFLPA and the league. It's a nice change to have these negotiations not take place in the public arena. I must also note that everything we do know is through leaks and the acquisition of confidential information by members of the media.

The recent history of labour unrest is not pretty in North American sports. Major League Baseball took almost 4 years to recover after the 1994 players' strike, and the National Hockey League still hasn't recovered in the United States since the lockout that cost the league, and its dwindling fan base, the 2004-2005 season. Both of them recovered easily in the places that they are most revered – baseball in the USA, hockey in Canada – but as someone who used to schedule his Saturday nights around Hockey Night in Canada, I have probably watched a combined 10 periods of NHL hockey since the lockout ended, and don't even get me started on my lack of interest in baseball since 1994.

The only difference, for myself, in this scenario is that my first love has always been football. I would come back to the CFL and the Tiger-Cats should a season be lost. Heck, I started this blog because I love the CFL so much. I would be upset, but I would come back.

That said, losing a season, or even part of a season, would cripple the CFL. I would like to think that both the CFL and the CFLPA understand this situation and will do whatever it takes to avoid a work stoppage. There is too much to be lost by both sides, and I think at the end of the day each side will understand this and a deal will be signed.

CFL Rule Changes

The CFL announced today that they have made four rule changes for the 2010 season:
  • Two-point converts on all scores in overtime
  • Allowing a team to scrimmage from the 35-yard line after field goals
  • No pass interference on throws deemed "uncatchable"
  • Balls hitting the ground on punts and touched by the kicking team will be penalized only 5 yards instead of 15
Let's look at these one by one, shall we?

The two-point convert rule, to me, does nothing. I outlined previously what I thought the league should do to change overtime so that ties would no longer exist. That may not have been the stated goal of changing the OT procedures, but if it wasn't, I ask, why make any change? If the CFL really wanted to be proactive they would've gone one step further and found a way to stop ties. The league didn't do that, so this rule, to me, means very little. I won't go into detail about this, but if you want to read my thoughts on OT changes you can click the link.

The rule that allows for teams to scrimmage at the 35-yard line after a field goal is just a reversion back to an old rule, which, I believe, was changed only in the last season or two. I'm neither here nor there on this change, but I think I'm more against the rule than I am for it. Growing up playing and watching football it was always preached to me that there were three aspects to the game: offense, defense, special teams. Taking out one aspect, as this rule does, takes away a part of the game. One of the areas I always thought the CFL had up on the NFL was kick returns. The larger field giving players more room to move allowed for some exciting plays. Rocket Ismail, Henry "Gizmo" Williams and Bashir Levingston (just to name a few) were dynamic and exciting kick returners. They added to the game, and depriving fans of one of the most exciting aspects of the game doesn't sit well with me.

No pass interference on uncatchable balls is a good change. This probably wouldn't have stopped guys like Bo Smith from being turned into a human turnstile, but at least the change will stop unnecessary PA penalties from being called. The only downside to this change is that it adds another layer of judgment for the referees. Refs have it tough at the best of times; now they'll get the endless barrage of critique on whether a pass was catchable or not.

The final rule instituted is the one for punts. All I'll say about this is: ABOUT DAMN TIME. I like the 5-yard rule to allow for punt returns, but I hated that an awkward kick could penalize a team so drastically. Now, if the league would only change it so that teams could recover kicks that hit an opposing player regardless of the 5-yard zone, then we'll have a close-to-perfect rule.

All in all I'd say the rules changes don't change much. None of them are too negative or positive, and for the most part I doubt many fans will notice. The one thing I have liked about the recent changes is the league's consultation process with the fans. Even if we don't have a say, it's nice to know that we have a forum that allows us to express our pleasure or displeasure with the product the CFL puts out.

Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009: #3

#3 (Week 10): 34-15 WIN vs. Toronto

The one game that means anything to Ti-Cat fans, regardless of how bad or good the team is, is Labour Day. The team seems to recognize this, as they tend to turn up the heat during the annual September clash. In 2009, the Cats just pounded the Argos. The game wasn't pretty; it wasn't a clinic; it wasn't a back-and-forth affair. It was a beating, pure and simple. It is that beating that puts the 2009 Labour Day Classic at #3 on my list.

PREVIOUS: #4 (Week 6) vs. Edmonton

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009: #4

#4 (Week 6): 28-21 WIN vs. Edmonton

This game had everything that makes football great. Inclement weather? Check! It was pouring rain the entire game. It was coming down like Cats and Eskim-- I mean, dogs. Back-and-forth action? Check! The Esks ran out to a 12-point first-quarter lead, and the Cats stormed back. Fantastic plays? Check! The Chris Thompson-Geoff Tisdale interception-lateral TD return was one of the wildest plays I saw all season. Great ending? CHECK! With 46 seconds left Quinton Porter scored on a QB sneak to take the lead for good. All of that adds up to one helluva game.

Also, and not so inconsequentially, was the feeling this win, which took the Cats to 4-2, gave to the fans. This was the game, I believe, that made the fans actually think that this season would be different. This was the true beginning of the great 2009 Hamilton Tiger-Cats campaign.

It is for those reasons that this game lands at #4 on my list.

PREVIOUS: #5 (Week 2) at BC

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Buck Stops....

In the 'Peg. The Blue Bombers announced today that they have signed QB Buck Pierce to a contract.

The Cats had expressed interest in Pierce, but one has to wonder how serious they were about signing him. With Kevin Glenn, Quinton Porter and Adam Tafralis already in the fold, there wasn't really any room for Pierce.

In Winnipeg, however, he has found a situation where he becomes the odds-on favourite to start. His history of injuries, namely concussions, is problematic, but if Pierce is healthy he has the ability to be one of the most dominant QBs in the CFL. But staying healthy has been a problem for Pierce. At the very least his signing makes the Bombers a little more competitive, and perhaps more of a threat to the Cats' perch as the undisputed 2nd-best team in the East Division.

With the season less than 3 months away, things seem to be heating up once again.

RELATED: A Call to Arms

In Obie We Trust

Better news could not have been delivered today. Tiger-Cats' General Manager Bob O'Billovich is staying a little longer in Steeltown after signing a contract extension that will keep him here until 2012.

The title of this post basically sums up my feelings for the man we call Obie. Every move he has made since joining the Tiger-Cats has been the right one. He has brought in:
  • DeAndra' Cobb
  • Dave Stala
  • Alexandra Gauthier
  • Quinton Porter
  • Kevin Glenn
  • Marquay McDaniel
  • Otis Floyd
  • Markeith Knowlton
  • Jamall Johnson
That's to name a few. So far Obie has come up aces every time. It has gotten to the point where people don't even question his moves. Like the title says, In Obie We Trust.

When O'Billovich came to Hamilton in December of 2007 he had very little to work with, and in just two short seasons he has taken a team that couldn't beat anyone and turned them into a bona fide Grey Cup contender.

His track record is almost unmatched, but the work he has done in Hamilton earns him extra kudos because this team was in complete disarray. After surprisingly making the playoffs in 2004, the team went into a tailspin that ended only last season. The team's record from 2005-2008 was an atrocious 15-57. Yikes! In 2009 the team went 9-9 and made the playoffs.

Big things are expected in 2010. Excitement is in the air in Steeltown, and a lot of that excitement is because of the moves that Bob O'Billovich has made to improve this once moribund franchise.

Once again, like the title says, In Obie We Trust

Best Ti-Cat Game of 2009: #5

#5 (Week 2): 31-28 WIN at BC

This was the game that started it all. After a Week 1 loss to the Argonauts that made many fans go, "Well, looks like another long season," the Cats went to BC, a place they hadn't won at in five years, starting a fourth-string Running Back named DeAndra' Cobb, and proceeded to shock the CFL. At the time this was an upset. Cobb accumulated 175 total yards and a TD, and it was long-time-Lion-turned-Tiger-Cat Otis Floyd who sealed the game with an interception. The Cats won the game and started turning the 2009 season into one I will never forget. Since this was the game that began the Cats' return to prominence, it ranks as the 5th Best Game of 2009.

PREVIOUS: The 5 Best Ti-Cat Games of 2009 (Intro, Criteria and Honourable Mentions)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The 5 Best Ti-Cat Games of 2009

The list thing seems to be a big hit, with both the Top 10 Greatest and Top 5 Most Hated being very popular amongst the readership. With that said, I've decided to tackle a new, more recent list. This one will be about the 5 Best Ti-Cat games of the 2009 season.

2009 was a rebirth year in Steeltown. After nearly a decade of futility, the Tabbies were able to rekindle the passion of Hamiltonians everywhere with a season for the ages. While the year ended in bitter defeat at the hands of the BC Lions, the season, for all intents and purposes, was a huge success. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect 2009 to go down the way it did. It wasn't perfect by any means, but it had more than its fair share of spectacular moments.

It is those moments that I will rank. Unlike the previous two lists, I won't need to go into detail about why certain games were chosen. There is no long list of criteria. The games took place in 2009, and the Ti-Cats played in them. That's all.

At 12PM every day this week I will unveil a new game, culminating with the #1 game being posted on Friday.

Before that, and like the other lists, I have some Honourable Mentions that need to be given attention.

Week 9: 31-30 LOSS at Edmonton

Yes, a loss. Just because the Cats didn't win doesn't mean the game wasn't great. The Tabbies came flying out of the gate. After that it was a back-and-forth affair that ended with a Noel Prefontaine FG with less than a minute remaining. Even in defeat the Tabbies looked strong and very well could have won this contest. Sometimes you can find victory in defeat.

Week 16: 41-38 LOSS at Montreal

Yes, another loss. This was probably the only time I will ever use the term "moral victory." The Cats could've, and maybe should've, won this game. Just like the Edmonton game, this was a back-and-forth contest that went down to the very end. A couple of bounces go the Cats' way and Kevin Glenn's 500-yard game doesn't go to waste. This was just a damn entertaining game.

East Division Semi-Final: 34-27 LOSS vs. BC

Third entry, third defeat. This was a great game which saw a great comeback from the Tabbies and, let's face it, was just awesome because of the atmosphere. This was the first time in EIGHT YEARS that a playoff game was played in Hamilton. The loss ended the Cats' season, but it ended a ride that I wouldn't give up for the world. While the season continuing wasn't meant to be, the journey the Cats took everyone on in 2009 was still fantastic.

A Call to Arms

It's another slow weekend as far as CFL news is concerned. Perhaps with the draft a mere three weeks away, teams are no longer solely focusing on the players that remain unsigned. This brings me to three former starting QBs who still do not have a home for 2010.

We've heard as recently as this week that the Blue Bombers and Buck Pierce have been talking contract. The Bombers made an offer, and Pierce's agent allegedly made a counter offer. That was Wednesday. It's Sunday and no deal has been reached. Maybe Pierce is headed to Winnipeg and maybe he's not, but this got me thinking about two other QBs who are still on the market: Kerry Joseph and Michael Bishop.

I know both players are no longer spring chickens (Joseph is 36; Bishop is 33), and neither player looked particularly effective the last time they were on the field (Joseph was mired in an unwinnable situation in Toronto, Bishop was throwing TDs to Ti-Cat defenders), but how, in a league that needs strong-armed QBs, do guys with laser arms like Joseph and Bishop remain unsigned? Not three years ago I watched both these players put on a display at the 2007 Damon Allen Quarterback Challenge that still makes me shake my head. Joseph launched a ball over 80 yards. That feat still boggles my mind. Here are Joseph's highlights from that day in Hamilton. I couldn't find any videos of Michael Bishop, unfortunately.



These guys have cannons for arms, and in a league that prides itself on the passing game, players with skills like these should be able to find work. I understand that skills competitions are not what make or break players' careers, but with raw talent like that, and proven track records, these guys should both be employed by some CFL team. Now, perhaps both players are asking for too much money, or they are making other unreasonable demands. Perhaps teams just see older QBs with nothing left in the tank. Perhaps it's just supply and demand. With really only two teams needing QBs (Toronto, which was Joseph's last team, and Winnipeg, which was Bishop's last team) perhaps the market just isn't there for either player's services.

So what could be the possible outcome for these two guys? Maybe, like Bishop and Casey Printers last season, both will be parachuted in when teams inevitably get injuries or have ineffective play at the QB position.

One thing is for sure, unless something catastrophic occurs, neither player will be wearing the Black & Gold in 2010. That said, someone's going to take in one of these two guys, no? One is a former MOP (Joseph), and the other led his team (Toronto) to an East Division Final (Bishop). Maybe they won't be in any team's training camp, but one has to think they will be on a team's roster at some point in 2010.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Ti-Cats Draft Needs

The CFL just released a list of the top 15 prospects for the 2010 CFL Canadian Draft. So with that being released, and the draft just around the corner, I figured it would be a good time to discuss some of the draft needs for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

On the surface the team doesn't need much of anything. The team has solid QBs, top-notch RBs, a stellar group of WRs, great LBs, and a vastly improved Secondary thanks to free agency. The O- and D-Lines could use some fortification, but that is the case every year. You can never have enough good linemen. That leaves one key area that needs to be addressed, an area that most people don't think about: Special Teams. More specifically, Punter and Kick Returner.

Every since Marquay McDaniel was injured last season, the Cats have had a rough time finding a player that can be a difference-maker at the KR position.

Say hello to Steven Turner.

Turner, a WR from Bishop's, was the breakout star of the CFL's 2010 E-Camp in March. He ran a blazing 4.31-second 40-yard dash time, which helped his stock skyrocket. While Turner is still a raw WR prospect, he could help on Special Teams in the return game with such speed. He is currently the 14th-ranked prospect according to the Scouting Bureau. He is a player that could be there when the Cats first pick in the draft (12th overall) comes up in the 2nd round.

The other position that the Tabbies need to fill is Punter. When the team released Nick Setta in January, they said goodbye to their versatile Kicker/Punter. When the team signed Sandro DeAngelis in February, they addressed Place Kicker but not Punter. The team is still searching for a Punter, and a Canadian is most likely to be used to avoid messing with the Import Ratio.

Enter Rob Maver.

Maver, a former Guelph Gryphon, is the top-rated Special Teams prospect, coming in at #6 on the Scouting Bureau's list. Getting Maver in Black & Gold will be a bit of a problem. The Ti-Cats do not have a pick in the 1st round, and Maver is assured of being selected in the first 7 picks (possibly by Calgary at #5). So if the Cats want to get Maver they are going to have to trade up into the 1st round to select him. The Cats have a plethora of young, Canadian WRs that they could peddle to another team, but will any team in the top half of the 1st round want to take, say, Chris Bauman for their pick? That's hard to say. A team like Saskatchewan is likely not a suitor for Canadian WRs because they already have their fill. Maybe the Argos at 1st overall or the Lions at 3rd overall would be interested, but who knows. Landing Maver is probably a pipe dream at this point, but GM Bob O'Billovich has pulled off some miracles in his day so I wouldn't put it past him to make the move to land the talented Guelph product.

It is probably wishful thinking that the Cats will land both Maver and Turner, thereby filling the only two real holes the teams has yet to fill. Who knows, maybe the team isn't interested in either player, or they have their sights set on guys they think are better suited for the roles that still need to be filled. While I know we need players to fill these positions – that is undeniable – whether we need these players, or the team thinks we need these players, is unknown by this scribe. But, hey, you come here for opinions, and this is my opinion. In any event, May 2nd will be a big day.

PREVIOUS: Blogskee Wee Wee's 2010 CFL Draft Coverage
RELATED: E-Camp and the 2010 CFL Draft

The Countdown is On

If you are anything like me you can't wait until the start of the 2010 CFL season. I've pretty much been counting down the days since last season ended, and I am brimming with anticipation over the start of the new season.

With that said I have decided to add a "Game Day Countdown" to the sidebar. Right now, as you can see, the clock is counting down until the day of the first pre-season game against Toronto at the Rogers Centre SkyDome.

I will update the clock after every game to reflect the new time until the next game. Here's hoping this gives all you Ti-Cat fans a little something to look forward to. At the very least counting down the days should be fun.

The Countdown is On!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Salary Cap

News came out today that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers exceeded the CFL salary cap (officially called the Salary Management System or SMS) in 2009, so I figured now would be as good a time as any to discuss the complex issue of the salary cap in the CFL.

The Canadian Football League's SMS isn't the most difficult thing to understand, and the summary of it on their website does a good job of giving the fans the basics of what the SMS is. Unlike in the NFL or NHL, this isn't a "hard cap," meaning teams can go over it, but will incur a penalty for doing so. In the CFL, teams risk fines and the loss of draft picks depending on the amount by which they go over the cap, which is currently set at $4.2 million/team.

CFL teams employ 46 players on game day, 42 players and 4 reserves. That comes out to about $85,000/player on average. With star players (mostly QBs) making upwards of $300,000-400,000/year, that significantly shrinks the amount that the other 45 players earn and artificially inflates the average. That's not to say that the best players shouldn't be making the most money; I'm just pointing out that not every player makes $85,000/year and that the average is slightly misleading.

I think on the whole the SMS has been good for the CFL. Gone are the days when teams would circumvent the cap (like when the Argos reportedly signed Doug Flutie to a $2 million/year contract in 1996) and not have to worry because there were no ramifications for doing so. Now teams have to take finances into account should they attempt to pursue a player.

The SMS has also brought parity to the CFL. Almost every fan of every team at the start of every season thinks that their team has a chance to win it all. Before, when teams could parachute the best players in, that wasn't always the case. The richest clubs signed the best players, like what currently occurs in Major League Baseball with the New York Yankees. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm glad that is now not the case.

With all the teams playing by the same rules, and with ramifications for those that don't, the CFL has become a better league. But that's not to say the system is perfect. While taking away draft picks for violators is a good thing, teams do tend to stock their team with American free agents who are not CFL Draft eligible. Maybe taking away some of the team's negotiation-list slots would also prevent teams from going over the cap.

Once again I think the CFL has struck the right balance between fair and stern, showing once again that it may be the best pro sports league in North America.

Tiger on the Loose?

If you are like me you constantly go to the Tiger-Cats website (which I have linked to on the sidebar) during your Internet rounds. If, like me, you went on there today, you saw an interesting link. It was a link to the website for the Public Health and Safety Board about a tiger being on the loose in downtown Hamilton. They have a picture of the tiger that seems to be skulking around Gore Park and a video of the gentleman who snapped the photo of said tiger.

This seems like an odd article to see on the homepage of a professional football team. Sure, the team is the Tiger-Cats and this is a tiger, but there aren't any other connections other than that and the fact that the tiger was in Hamilton. Many people on the Ti-Cat forum have been sleuthing their butts off trying to figure out just what this means, and it seems like this is a publicity stunt by the team. Here are some of the suspect items that people have found:
  • The "Public Heath and Safety Board" does not exist as an entity at the federal, provincial or municipal level
  • There is no Channel 13 in Hamilton
  • Jason Riley, the name of the person who allegedly took the photo, was also the name of a former Tiger-Cat Offensive Lineman
  • The parking lot that "Jason Riley" stopped in front of leads to 1 Jarvis St., which is the location of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats offices and the Tigertown Store
  • The domain name phsb.ca is registered to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club.
If all of this is true it begs the question: just what does the team have planned? They wouldn't go to all this trouble for nothing, so they must have something big in the works. I wonder what it is. Anyone care to offer any opinions?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Blogskee Wee Wee's 2010 CFL Draft Coverage


I covered the topic of the CFL Draft and the CFL E-Camp last month, so I figured now was as good a time as any to tell everyone how I'll be conducting my 2010 CFL Draft coverage.

Since this is, mostly, a Hamilton Tiger-Cats-dedicated site, I will concentrate on them. That doesn't mean that I will neglect the other teams; far from it, in fact.

When the 2010 CFL Draft kicks off at 12:00PM EST on May 2, 2010, I will post who gets selected where after each round has commenced. I will focus on, and hopefully provide insight into, who the Tiger-Cats select, as well as giving particular attention to the players selected in the 1st Round of the Draft. Currently the Tabbies do not have a 1st-round selection and don't pick until the 5th selection in the 2nd Round, 12th overall. In fact, the Cats own only three total picks in the six-round draft (#12, #28, #36), mainly due to trades completed in the past couple of seasons. The Cats don't have a 1st-round selection because they forfeited it when they selected Zac Carlson in last season's Supplemental Draft, and they don't have a 3rd-round selection because of the trade last season that netted the Tabbies Arland Bruce.

This is the first time I will be covering the Canadian Football League Draft, but in an ongoing effort to give you the best coverage on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the CFL, I will do my best to be well-read on the draft-eligible players.

Look for a lot of activity on Blogskee Wee Wee on May 2nd.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Greatest Game in CFL History

Sometimes boredom and laziness can pay off for everyone, and today is one of those days.

I was sitting around this morning trying to find something to do. Watch a movie? Too early. Play video games? Not in the mood. Screw around on the Internet? OK, that's the ticket. So in my search I decided to go on YouTube, a.k.a. God's gift to time wasting. I decided to look up the Tiger-Cats, and what do I find? The entire broadcast of the 77th Grey Cup. Read that again.

77th GREY CUP

That is the game from 1989, between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, that I consider to be the greatest football game of all time. When I did my post on Tony Champion (naming him the 8th Greatest Ti-Cat of My Lifetime) I mentioned that I tried to find a good video of his catch in the 77th Grey Cup. Well, now I've found something even better, THE ENTIRE GAME! This is the complete rebroadcast of the 77th Grey Cup between Hamilton and Saskatchewan. Yes, the WHOLE GAME! I apologize, but the person who uploaded it did so in 10 separate videos, so I too must post them as 10 separate videos. Anyway, enjoy the game I consider to be the greatest in the history of the CFL.

Part 1


Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6


Part 7


Part 8


Part 9


Part 10

Retro Week

Just like last season, the CFL will be doing a Retro Week. Last season it was a great success when the league celebrated the 1960s. The league came up with a logo to commemorate the event, the TSN announcers dressed in stereotypical 1960s garb, and all the teams wore their 1960s uniforms in Week 3.

While Week 3 was the official Retro Week, the league had other Retro games throughout the 2009 season, of which the Ti-Cats participated in two: Week 10 (Labour Day) and Week 11 in their back-to-back games against the Toronto Argonauts.

The Ti-Cats finished 2-1 in their Retro uniforms. They won the Week 3 contest against the Blue Bombers and the Labour Day game against the Argos, but lost the rematch in Toronto in Week 11.

The Cats also wore two slightly different uniforms. In Week 3 against the Bombers the team wore a black helmet, but in Weeks 10 and 11 a gold helmet was worn. I personally preferred the gold helmet, but I thought the Retro unis were cool in all regards.

I love the idea of celebrating the past. It allows for new fans and young fans to learn the history of their favourite teams and of the entire CFL. Celebrating thee great players of the 1960s and remembering them for their contributions on the field is an important part of growing the Canadian Football League.

With the success of the 2009 Retro Week, the CFL has decided to once again "Go Retro" in the 2010 season. This year the theme will be the 1970s. In Weeks 6 and 7, teams will sport Retro uniforms that celebrate the 1970s. The league has yet to release the details on the 1970s theme, so I don't want to speculate on what the Ti-Cat uniforms and helmet will look like. The Cats sported a couple of different looks in the 1970s, and it would be foolish of me to proclaim which uniform and helmet combination they will use to commemorate the 1970s in 2010.

Last season Retro Week was a blast; it was nice for older fans to relive their past and for younger fans to experience the past for the first time. The CFL has done nothing but great things the past few years, and Retro Week is one of them. Keep up the great work CFL, and hopefully we get more Retro Weeks in the future.

Another New Addition

I decided to add a link on the sidebar to the Ti-Cats Fan Forum. I regularly post on there, and I find that it's a fun way to interact with fellow Ti-Cat fans. Like all anonymous Internet-based forums, you will find some interesting characters, but for the most part these are knowledgeable fans who just love the Cats.

Even if you don't feel like signing up, you can just check it out. Initially, that's what I did. It was when I read something that someone posted that caused me to sign up so I could debate them. (It may have been about Bo Smith; man I hate that guy.) Now I go on there almost every day hoping to interact with my fellow Cat fans. It's a fun way to kill time until the season starts.

Speaking of which, I am currently in the process of adding another new feature in the coming days. Once I have finalized the details I will post about it. Check back in the coming days for another new addition to Blogskee Wee Wee.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Most Hated Tiger-Cats: #1

The moment you have all been waiting for, the naming of my #1 Most Hated Tiger-Cat. Before I unveil my top villain, the man who wore the Black & Gold jersey and inspires anger in almost every Ti-Cat fan, I'll recap the first four entries on my list:

#5: Brock Ralph
#4: Jesse Lumsden
#3: Mike O'Shea
#2: Adriano Belli

All those guys are more than deserving of being placed on this list, especially O'Shea and Belli, but there can only be one person at the top. Now without further ado, my #1 Most Hated Tiger-Cat is...

#1: Anthony Calvillo
Numero uno on the list, and it's not even close. Anthony Calvillo is easily the most hated player ever to wear a Tiger-Cats uniform. If you wonder why, we shall just look at the stats.

Calvillo was selected #1 overall by the Ti-Cats in the CFL Dispersal Draft that occurred after the U.S.-based teams ceased operations in 1995. He was expected to be the future at the QB position for the Cats. What he did here in his three seasons hardly qualifies. In 1995, Calvillo threw for 2831 yards, 19 TDs and 21 INTs. In 1996, he threw for 2571 yards, 13 TDs and 13 INTs. In his final season, Calvillo managed only 2177 yards, 12 TDs and 11 INTs. As you can see, each year Calvillo regressed from the season before.

In 1998, he signed as a free agent with the Montreal Alouettes, where initially he backed up Tracy Ham. Once Calvillo took the reins of the team, a legend was born. The same guy who couldn't win a football game if his life depended on it in Hamilton – the team went a combined 18-36 from 1995-1997 – suddenly turned into one of the greatest QBs in CFL history.

Since going to Montreal, Calvillo's achievements mark him as one of the best ever:
  • Two-time Grey Cup champion (2002, 2009)
  • Three-time Most Outstanding Player (2003, 2008, 2009)
  • Four-time CFL All Star (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009)
Calvillo also ranks second in almost every significant statistical category for QBs. He is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer, and when all is said and done, he might be considered the greatest QB to ever play in the Canadian Football League.

WHERE THE HELL WAS THIS WHEN HE WAS IN HAMILTON!?!?

Calvillo was a bum when he played for the Tabbies, and miraculously morphed into who we see today as soon as he left. It is for that reason that I have selected Anthony Calvillo as my #1 Most Hated Tiger-Cat.

Just like I did with the "Greatest Tiger-Cats of My Lifetime" list, I turn to you, my readers. Do you agree with Calvillo as #1? Is there someone on this list that shouldn't be or someone who isn't that should be? Sound off in the comment section below. If you have a Top 3 or 5 or 10, feel free to share it. I stand by my list, but I am not above hearing from my loyal readers on if they agree or disagree. Let 'er rip.

PREVIOUS: Adriano Belli (#2)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Pierce in Demand

And the news just keeps on a-comin'.

Looks like Buck Pierce is one hot commodity. Not only are CFL teams interested (the Bombers, Cats and Als have or will work him out), but he is also being courted by NFL teams. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers have all expressed interest in the former BC Lion signal caller.

No offense to Pierce, who I do think is a great QB and one of the toughest SOBs in the CFL, but I don't want to see him in Hamilton. Adding him in no way improves the team. Kevin Glenn and Quinton Porter are more than capable of leading this team, and adding Pierce would mean getting rid of one of them. Both signed extensions this off-season, and if Pierce is added one of them will have to go.

We also have Adam Tafralis, who is a great short-yardage QB and has shown some flashes of skill in limited playing time. It would be a shame if he has to be let go to make room for Pierce.

The one thing I do find interesting is that one team that isn't working out Pierce is a team that could really use him: the Toronto Argonauts. But mystifying decisions are nothing new when it comes to the Double Blue. I still can't wrap my head around their decision to sign Cleo Lemon...or Gibran Hamdan... or trade Arland Bruce... well, you get the point.

It looks like he'll likely end up in Winnipeg if, as the article states, they are ready to make him an offer. That is probably the best place for him because it will allow him an opportunity to start, since only the recently signed Steven Jyles stands in his way. If he was to go to Hamilton or Montreal, he would probably just be a backup.

Buono Signs Extension

Head Coach Wally Buono will be staying with the BC Lions for a little longer. Buono signed a contract extension that will keep him BC until 2013.

Buono has led the Lions to the playoffs every year he's been their Head Coach, and the team won the Grey Cup in 2006. Buono is also sits atop the list of wins by a coach, with 235.

It was Buono's unorthodox decision in the 2004 Grey Cup that brought Casey Printers to Hamilton. Printers had just won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player award that weekend, yet he was inexplicably benched in favour of Dave Dickenson for the championship game. Printers grew frustrated, went down to the NFL, failed there, came to Hamilton, and we all know how that story ended. Printers is now back in BC, and the Lions are once again a playoff contender.

Buono is clearly a great coach, but he has made some odd decisions. But he has had enormous success, so you can't question him that much. No one has won more games than Buono as a Head Coach, and that speaks volumes.

Now if we could just get some revenge for last season's East Division Semi-Final loss, that would be great.