Wednesday 22 December 2010

No Words

I am speechless.

Hamilton is the only city that would take a $100-million gift and piss in the face of the persons giving it to them.

No stadium is getting built here for the 2015 Pan Am Games. That's not official, but with the deadline about five weeks away, there simply isn't time to find an alternative.

Confederation Park is out. The East Mountain land has been sold. Longwood and Aberdeen is too expensive. And don't get me started on the west harbour.

This was a gimme, a layup that anyone could have hit. But I forgot that in Hamilton, there is no such thing as a gimme.

New city council, same idiotic results. The short-sightedness of it all could very well push the Tiger-Cats out of Hamilton. My hope is, if they do go somewhere else, that they at least stay close. Burlington or London would be fine.

Dave Naylor said on TSN that it is possible they could be headed to Moncton, Quebec City or Ottawa. It is entirely possible that Hamilton City Council has just killed an entity that has operated in Hamilton for over 140 years.

This is a sad turn of affairs. Who knows what the future holds, but at this point it looks like the future does not have a Hamilton Tiger-Cats in it.

Surprise! Porter Thinks He Should be the Starter

I said earlier in the week that I would have an opinion on who the Hamilton Tiger-Cats should get to be the backup Quarterback to Kevin Glenn in 2011 – and that is still coming – but after Quinton Porter, the current backup to Kevin Glenn, decided to speak to The Portland (Maine) Press Herald, my focus changed.

The article implies that Porter believes he could play in the NFL, but he also seems to think that he should be the starting Quarterback for the Tiger-Cats. On both points I disagree.

I will not delve into the NFL stuff, since I think it is foolish to even consider the notion that Porter could be an NFL signal caller. But I will touch on his not-so-subtle suggestion that he should be the starter for the Tiger-Cats.

Now, before I go into this, I will say that Porter did not say categorically that he should be the starter in Hamilton; he did say that he "need[s] more chances to start." Since he is still a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, I believe that quote implies that he believes that he should be starting for Hamilton. Am I wrong in drawing that conclusion?

What has Quinton Porter shown in his three years in Hamilton that makes him believe that he deserves to start for the Tiger-Cats, or any other CFL team for that matter? People still cling to that one game he had against Montreal... three seasons ago! Yes, he looked tremendous in that game, and was then handed the reins in 2009. He then proceeded to s**t the bed and was replaced by Kevin Glenn. He barely got on the field in 2010 because Glenn had what amounted to one of the best seasons a Tiger-Cat Quarterback has ever had. It's looking more and more like that 2008 game against the Alouettes was an aberration.

I was always a fan of Quinton Porter because I thought with his mix of height and speed he could be a dangerous weapon at Quarterback. But when he was handed the starting job in 2009, he did nothing with it. Since being replaced by Glenn, all Glenn has done is guide the Tiger-Cats to back-to-back playoff seasons and, in 2010, put together one of the best seasons a Hamilton Tiger-Cat Quarterback ever has.

I don't want to bash Porter, but it seems as if he has a belief in himself that does not match his output so far in his young professional career. I'm not saying he can't develop into something special, but he hasn't shown any growth from Year One to Year Two to Year Three. I have no idea what he thinks he has done to believe that he should be on the field and Glenn should be on the bench.

Quinton Porter seems to be the only one that thinks Quinton Porter should be a starting Quarterback.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Stamps (and Thompson) Not Going Anywhere

So much for Fred Stamps becoming a Tiger-Cat. The Edmonton Eskimos have signed Stamps, as well as Chris Thompson and Walter Curry, to contract extensions.

Rumours had been floating that the Eskimos were going to move their All-Star Receiver, and I figured Hamilton should make a play for him.

Now, just because he signed an extension does not mean he cannot be dealt. I just don't see why the Eskimos would sign him only to trade him a couple of days/weeks/months later. I'd be surprised if Stamps wasn't wearing his familiar Green & Gold come Canada Day.

Chris Thompson staying in Edmonton is significant as well because the Cats need Secondary help, and Thompson was one of Hamilton's best DBs until his trade last off-season to Edmonton for Maurice Mann.

I didn't like the trade then, and after this season, I still don't like the trade. Mann was very inconsistent in 2010, but he did show flashes at the end of the season. Hopefully, with Mann being in his second year in Hamilton, he can become that complementary threat to Arland Bruce.

With Thompson off the market, the Cats are now going to have to turn elsewhere to help fix their inconsistent Secondary. Lin-J Shell, anyone? (Now that I have said that, Shell will be re-signed by Toronto in about 16 hours.)

Stamps of Approval

I don't know why this story is being so underreported, but there are rumours that the Edmonton Eskimos are seriously considering trading Receiver Fred Stamps.

I'm going to say it: how great would Stamps look in Black & Gold?

Unless the asking price is exorbitant, the Cats should have already traded for Stamps. I'm salivating at the thought of Fred Stamps and Arland Bruce sharing a field. A potent offense would get downright lethal. Add in Dave Stala, Maurice Mann and Marquay McDaniel, and opposing defenses would soil themselves worrying about who to cover.

I'm sure many of the six other teams will make offers for Stamps, so the Cats should move fast to grab him. As much as I am against picking guys up to keep them from other teams (unlike some who, for example, want the Cats to bring in Ricky Ray to keep him from the Bombers or Argos), getting Stamps to keep him away from Toronto is a fabulous idea. As much as I would love to see Stamps in Hamilton, I would equally hate seeing him in that disgusting Double Blue Toronto.

If the mantra of "better is better" is to be believed, then Stamps needs to be in a Hamilton Tiger-Cats uniform in 2011.

Monday 20 December 2010

Some of This, Some of That

Today was a fairly busy day. We had a team get a Head Coach... but then not. We had some news about the Pan Am Stadium, and the news was not good.

It was thought that the Roughriders had a Head Coach... then they didn't. Earlier today, it was reported by CFL Daily that Montreal Offensive Coordinator Scott Milanovich would be named the new Head Coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Then the brown stuff hit the proverbial oscillator and Milanovich was not hired. It seems as if the Riders have not made a decision. No one is perfect, but in the rush to be the first to report, accuracy was sacrificed.

I said I was shunning all talk about the stadium until there were shovels in the ground, but when news happens, news happens. Aberdeen and Longwood is dead. It would cost upwards of $70 to $90 million just to buy the land. Newly elected mayor Bob Bratina now wants Confederation Park looked at. It's looking more and more likely that the stadium will not be built in Hamilton. I'm going to refrain from editorializing too much. All I'm going to say is:

Fred Eisenberger, you're a f**king idiot! Thanks for nothing, jackass. Your legacy is assured. You're the moron who pissed away $100 million in government funds. Nice job, dickhead.

I'll get back to some football-related stuff later in the week, including an interesting rumour that nearly no one seems to be reporting or even talking about, and who I think should be the backup Quarterback of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Thursday 16 December 2010

One Step Closer

News has just dropped that Richie Hall is no longer believed to be in the running for the Head Coach position with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (The pertinent quote from the story: "Former Edmonton head coach Richie Hall, who was with the Riders as defensive co-ordinator, is not believed to be in the mix.")

This paves the way for Hall to join the Tiger-Cats as their new Defensive Coordinator. It has been speculated for some time that Greg Marshall will not be brought back, and Hall is the presumed replacement because of his relationship with Tiger-Cat Head Coach Marcel Bellefeuille.

With Bellefeuille, Hall and Jones, the Cats could have the calmest coaching staff in football history. Some fans complain about coaches who don't show emotion, but Marc Trestman is as calm as they come and it hasn't hurt him any.

Nothing is set in stone, but I would be stunned if Hall is not hired as Hamilton's Defensive Coordinator. I'll get a jump start and say, "Welcome to Tigertown, Coach Hall."

Wednesday 15 December 2010

CFL Free Agents

After all the hand wringing we finally have a list of all the potential free agents for 2011. I know it is way too early to even think about which of these guys will be free to take their talents to South Beach elsewhere, but there isn't much else going on, so why not have a little fun.

BC Lions
Tad Crawford (S)
Jarious Jackson (QB)

My Take: No reason to pick either guy up.

Dwight Anderson (DB)
Brandon Browner (DB)
Wes Lysack (S)
Tom Johnson (DT)
Terrarius George (DL)
DeVone Claybrooks (DT)
Ben Archibald (OL)
Romby Bryant (R)
Rob Cote (SB)
Randy Chevrier (LS)
Ryan Thelwell (R)
Milton Collins (DB)

My Take: Anderson, Browner, Claybrooks, Archibald, Bryant and Collins would all look pretty good in Black & Gold. While I'm not a fan personally of Anderson or Browner, the Cats need help in the Secondary and these two guys were All-Stars in 2010. One of those two, if available, would be who I would target.

Kelly Campbell (R)
Walter Curry (DL)
Skyler Green (R)
Jason Nugent (S)
Tim St. Pierre (LB)
Chris Thompson (DB)
Justin Medlock (K)

My Take: One player the Cats should move heaven and Earth to get is Chris Thompson. Hamilton traded him to Edmonton last season for Maurice Mann. It would be quite the coup for the Cats to get him back. Obie, don't hesitate. If Thompson is free, GO GET HIM! Justin Medlock might be an option should the Cats decide to part ways with Sandro DeAngelis, and Kelly Campbell might be worth a look.

Mike McCullough (LB)
Kitwana Jones (DL)
Lance Frazier (DB)
Chris McKenzie (DB)
Sean Lucas (LB)
Neal Hughes (RB)
Joel Bell (OL)
Jeremy O'Day (OL)
Gene Makowsky (OL)
Wayne Smith (OL)
Daniel Francis (DB)

My Take: Another team, another DB. This time, it's Lance Frazier. I think adding him to the Defensive backfield would be a tremendous signing by the Cats.

Yvenson Bernard (RB)
Ibrahim Khan (C)
Jonathan Hefney (DB)
Dorian Smith (DL)
Joe Lobendahn (LB)
Jon Oosterhuis (FB)
Daryl Stephenson (RB)
Shawn Gallant (S)
Keyou Craver (DB)

My Take: A lot of people will say target Jonathan Hefney, but I'm not sold on him. He's a good player, but I don't know if he's much better than what the Cats already have. Yvenson Bernard could be the competition to push DeAndra' Cobb. He looked very good for the Bombers in 2009, but did not get very many opportunities in 2010. I don't recall him being hurt, so it seems as if he's just fallen out of favour with the Winnipeg coaching staff. Hamilton would be a nice landing spot for the former Oregon State star.

Adriano Belli (DL)
Shannon Boatman (OL)
Chad Rempel (R)
Jeff Keeping (OL)
Bryan Crawford (ST)
Kevin Huntley (DT)
Ronald Flemons (DL)
Eric Taylor (DL)
Jeremaine Copeland (R)
Lin-J Shell (DB)

My Take: None. Hamilton should never take Argo scraps. I kid, of course. Lin-J Shell would be nice to have on the Cats. He has been a very good DB for the Boatmen, and I don't think this would be a repeat of the Jason Shivers-Will Poole debacle last season. Bringing Bryan Crawford home would be good too. The Hamilton-born Special Teams ace would look good in his hometown colours. Also, wishful thinking would hope that Jeremaine Copeland would move on down the QEW, but I doubt he's leaving Toronto.

Anthony Calvillo (QB)
Ben Cahoon (R)
Avon Cobourne (RB)
S.J. Green (R)
Jerald Brown (DB)
Damon Duval (K)
Chip Cox (LB)
Andrew Hawkins (ST)
Danny Desriveaux (R)
J.P. Bekasiak (DL)
Chris Leak (QB)
Martin Bedard (LS)
Shawn Mayne (DE)
Larry Taylor (KR)

My Take: Well, let's grab Calvillo, Green, Brown, Cox and Taylor. Now, back to reality. I can't see many of these guys leaving unless they aren't wanted. Cobourne may be available, and Taylor is available; both would look decent in Tiger-Cat uniforms. Just, please, do not sign Damon Duval. Living through DeAngelis in 2010 was hard enough; Duval would be an unmitigated disaster.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Top Prospects of the 2011 CFL Draft

The CFL Scouting Bureau has published its list of the top prospects for the 2011 CFL Draft.

The list consists of the fifteen top prospects as of today. It should be noted, in case anyone did not know, that this is strictly Canadian players. They can play in the NCAA or CIS, but they must be Non-Imports to qualify for the CFL Draft.

There are a total of five (5) NCAA players and ten (10) CIS players, if you count Vaughn Martin (who plays in the NFL, but went to Western). The top prospect is Baylor Offensive Lineman Phillip Blake, and the top CIS prospect is Calgary Slotback Anthony Parker.
  1. Phillip Blake, Offensive Line, Baylor
  2. Scott Mitchell, Offensive Line, Rice
  3. Anthony Parker, Slotback, Calgary
  4. Vaughn Martin, Defensive Tackle, Western (he currently plays for the San Diego Chargers)
  5. Tyler Holmes, Offensive Line, Tulsa
  6. Moe Petrus, Offensive Line, UConn
  7. Nathan Coehoorn, Wide Receiver, Calgary
  8. Matt O'Donnell, Offensive Line, Queen's
  9. Renaldo Sagesse, Defensive Line, Michigan
  10. Henoc Muamba, Linebacker, St. FX
  11. Hugh O'Neill, Punter/Kicker, Alberta
  12. Pascal Baillargeon, Offensive Line, Laval
  13. Anthony Barrette, Offensive Line, Concordia
  14. Matt Walter, Running Back, Calgary
  15. Jade Etienne, Wide Receiver, Saskatchewan
The Tiger-Cats hold the fifth pick in the first round, much better than last year when they did not have a first-round pick after using it in the supplementary draft in 2009 on Zac Carlson (who was released back in June). It's not too early to be thinking about the draft, is it?

Sunday 12 December 2010

Things Just Got A Lot More Interesting Stay the Same (UPDATE)

Anyone want to coach the two-time defending Grey Cup champions? It looks like the job will be open as it is being reported that Marc Trestman will be named the new Head Coach of the Miami Hurricanes.

Let the speculation begin as to who will replace Trestman. I don't even have a guess because I thought it unfathomable that he would leave Montreal. The Als job is easily the most coveted and prestigious in the CFL right now. Whoever gets the job has a ready-made championship team.

However, I wonder what Trestman's departure will mean for some of the veteran players, namely Anthony Calvillo. Might Calvillo, who we all know is undergoing thyroid surgery, decide that with Trestman leaving, now might be the time to hang 'em up?

And here I thought December was a dull month in the CFL.

EDIT: Scratch that. Looks like Temple Head Coach Al Golden will become the new Head Coach at the University of Miami.

Three Questions: Canadian Football League

The off-season is underway and it is not just the teams that face questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Canadian Football League.

Will there be a Touchdown Atlantic II?
I would stunned if there wasn't. Rumours have been out there for a while that the 2011 Touchdown Atlantic game will be between the Tiger-Cats and Stampeders. I can't see a reason why the league won't play a game in Moncton in 2011.

What do record TV numbers mean?
The CFL is in the midst of a popularity surge not seen since Russ Jackson was slinging passes and winning MOPs. While attendance was down, TV numbers were way up. More people watched the CFL on TSN than any other sport, including hockey. The league's deal with TSN does not expire for another couple of years, but I can imagine that if this upward trend continues, a television windfall – the likes of which the CFL has never seen – could be in the offing. Like the wrestling boom of the late 1990s, it's now cool to like the CFL.

What effect will a possible NFL lockout have?
The most important question facing the CFL in 2011 might actually have nothing to do with the CFL. Anyone who watches the NFL knows that there is a very real possibility that they are headed for a work stoppage – likely a lockout – in 2011. I doubt we'll see a glut of NFL players head to Canada to try and ply their trade; the latest CFL CBA all but guarantees that. But what will Americans do to get their football fix? Yes, they will still have college football, but the other pro leagues that operate in the US (Arena Football, UFL) hardly do big numbers. Fans have not gravitated towards those leagues. I also find it intriguing that NFL Network aired CFL games this past season. Could another deal be struck to play CFL games on NFL Network? Could NFL Network look at airing every CFL game to fill the hours of programming they'll need to fill with no NFL? It wouldn't surprise me in the least. An NFL work stoppage might do for the CFL what American expansion never could.

And the New Tiger-Cats Offensive Coordinator is...

Khari Jones.

To say that I am psyched is an understatement. I have been pushing for Jones since before it was announced that Mike Gibson would not be returning to the Cats. I said before that I thought some new blood would be a good thing, and to hire a retread would just be taking a sideways step. The Cats needed the new blood that Jones provides.

We have all seen the meteoric rise of Dave Dickenson in Calgary, and I truly believe that Jones can be Hamilton's version. He's got his shot; now I only hope that he rewards the Cats with a great infusion of fresh ideas or else I am going to look like quite the idiot.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Three Questions: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Who will be the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators in 2011?
We know that Mike Gibson is gone; we suspect that Greg Marshall will be as well. For Offensive Coordinator, I have said numerous times that I hope that Khari Jones gets it. Call me crazy, but I think he could be the Tiger-Cats' version of Dave Dickenson. Jones was a smart player and has apprenticed as the Tiger-Cats QB Coach for the past two seasons. I see no reason why Jones wouldn't be a good choice. Depending on how the dominoes fall league wide, I hope that Richie Hall is brought in to replace Marshall. Hall's tenure as Edmonton's Head Coach was disastrous, but he was a skilled Defensive Coordinator for Saskatchewan before taking the Edmonton job. Another possible replacement is Rich Stubler. He's in BC right now as Defensive Line Coach, and he and Marshall share a similar philosophy, so the change wouldn't be too drastic. As someone who has grown sick of the Marshall philosophy, I can't say I'd love to see Stubler in Hamilton.

Will there be a Running Back competition in Training Camp?
There has to be. I like DeAndra' Cobb, but he was ineffective for much of the 2010 season and he needs to be pushed. Marcus Thigpen is already on the roster, but he doesn't seem to be the type of guy that can take a 15-to-20-carry-a-game load. Looking outside Hamilton, what about one of the Edmonton Running Backs: Arkee Whitlock and Daniel Porter? I'm sure Edmonton will want to keep both of them, but either one wold look really nice in Black & Gold. And is it wishful thinking to think that Jon Cornish might come to Hamilton? Yeah, it probably is, but a guy can dream, can't he?

What to do at backup Quarterback?
With the starting Quarterback position being sewn up for the immediate future, I won't go on about how the Cats shouldn't try and get Ricky Ray from Edmonton. Personally, I'd rather have Kevin Glenn. That's not to say that I don't like Ricky Ray, but Kevin Glenn was not the reason that this team didn't win in 2010. Also, the idea of getting Ray just so the Argos don't is ridiculous. I've heard some people say that and I've never believed in that philosophy. You bring in guys because they will make your team better, not because your arch rival might get them. (OK, I guess I did go on about why the Cats shouldn't get Ricky Ray.)

The backup Quarterback spot is what I am most interested in. It's time for Hamilton to decide if Quinton Porter or Adam Tafralis is the guy for the future. If not, bring in some new blood. Porter looked bad for most of the season, but put up a pretty decent quarter of football when Kevin Glenn was hurt in the East Division Semi-Final. Everyone seems to love Tafralis, but I'm not sold, simply because he's never really been given a chance. I don't think anyone can accurately judge how good a player is based on a handful of garbage-time minutes and a couple of QB sneaks. These guys have been here long enough that it's time to decide whether these are the guys that should sit behind Kevin Glenn.

Friday 10 December 2010

Three Questions: Montreal Alouettes

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Montreal Alouettes.

Will Marc Trestman be back?
I think he will be. Trestmen has been linked to multiple jobs – most notably the University of Minnesota – but I suspect that Trestmen will stay and fulfill his contract. He doesn't seem like the type of guy that would leave just for money. For a new challenge, absolutely, but not just for more money. I would be surprised if Trestman isn't patrolling the sidelines for the Alouettes when the 2011 season begins.

Will Anthony Calvillo be back?
We all heard Calvillo's revelation following his Grey Cup win that he needed surgery on his thyroid. We all know that Calvillo is going to undergo surgery to remove half of said thyroid. We all heard him say that he should be ready to return in 2011. I believe him. Unless things go horribly wrong – and I truly hope that does not happen – Cavillo will be taking snaps for the Als for at least one more season. (Side note: I do expect the 2011 season to be Calvillo's last. He'll have at least three Grey Cup rings and every significant all-time passing record. No better way to go out than on top.)

Is this the end of their run?
No, I think the Als still have one more year left in them with this group. As long as Anthony Calvillo is still slinging the ball, this team has a shot to win it all. I won't say they will win a third-straight Grey Cup, but I wouldn't bet against them either.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Tiger-Cat Free Agents and My Beef With CFL GMs

First things first, the Tiger-Cats have released the list of players that will be unrestricted free agents come February 16, 2011.
  • Chris Bauman (WR)
  • Alexandre Gauthier (OL)
  • George Hudson (OL)
  • Adam Nicolson (WR)
  • Brian Ramsey (OL)
  • Jermaine Reid (DL)
  • Steve Schmidt (WR/TE/FB)
  • Geoff Tisdale (DB)
All but Tisdale are Non-Imports, but looking at them I don't think any one player is irreplaceable.

I'd like for the team to try to retain Bauman after his stellar play in the final few weeks of the season, but might he be a player that saw the contract coming and put together some solid performances to drive up his value? Might he go back to being the player Ti-Cat fans have loathed the past four seasons?

Gauthier would be nice to retain as well, but he is aging and if a cheaper alternative is out there, perhaps the team lets Gauthier seek greener pastures elsewhere.

When put in the right position, Geoff Tisdale can be a playmaker in the defensive backfield. He was one of the lone bright spots in the much-maligned Tiger-Cats Secondary.

Now for the second part: my beef with CFL GMs. For a number of absolutely ridiculous reasons, free-agents lists in the CFL are kept secret. In a report by the National Post's Mark Masters, many of the league's General Managers gave a bunch of ludicrous reasons why they prefer the lists to be kept private. The only GM interviewed who said he didn't care about the list being public or private: Hamilton's Bob O'Billovich.

Why is it that every other major sports league – NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, European Soccer – can have their free agents known well in advance, but the CFL has to hide theirs? There is no good reason not to release the names of potential free agents, and the reasons that the GMs gave were lame. We demand transparency in regards to everything else; we should demand transparency in this too. There is way too much secrecy for my liking, and this needs to change.

Three Questions: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Who to start: Buck Pierce or Steven Jyles?
It's no secret that I am a big fan of Jyles. I think he has the makings of a great CFL Quarterback. I like Buck Pierce too, don't get me wrong, but he just can't stay healthy. If he could, he would still be in BC. When Pierce plays, he's as good as anyone. He just can't stay on the field. That, sadly, will be Pierce's legacy. Jyles should be given the reins to the team in 2011.

Can the Defense repeat their 2010 accomplishments?
One of the best Defenses in NFL history was the famed "Gritz Blitz" of the Atlanta Falcons in 1977. Not many people know who they are because that Falcons team finished 7-7 despite allowing an NFL-record 9.2 points per game. The 2010 Winnipeg Blue Bombers might go down as the CFL's version of the "Gritz Blitz" (sans cool nickname). The year that the Bombers Defense had is one that does not come along too often. Even if they can't match the feats of 2010, they should still be a very good Defense in 2011.

Will their luck turn around?
I cannot recall a team with worse luck than the 2010 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Ten – count 'em, ten – losses by a touchdown or less, nine of which were by four points or less. Turn half of those losses into wins and Winnipeg makes the playoffs with a 9-9 record. There is no way that the team will have luck that bad in 2011.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Three Questions: Toronto Argonauts

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Toronto Argonauts.

Will competition be brought in for Cleo Lemon?
The Argos had arguably the best Running Back in football in Cory Boyd and unarguably the best Kick Returner in football in Chad Owens. Equally true is that they had, by far, the worst starting Quarterback in the CFL in Cleo Lemon. I don't know if Barker was trying to prove that you can win in the CFL without a quality QB, but by sticking with Lemon all season he sure tried to accomplish that feat. Cleo Lemon was terrible: more turnovers than touchdowns, fewer yards than six other QBs. The two teams' pivots behind Lemon? BC (who started two different QBs) and Winnipeg (who started four different QBs). Had BC and Winnipeg had one guy start 17 games like Lemon did, they'd have thrown for more yards than Lemon. The Argos need to bring someone – anyone – in to compete with Lemon for the starting job. I suspect that Barker will bring someone in; he must. The Argos cannot and will not win 10+ games in 2011 with Cleo Lemon as their starting Quarterback.

Can Jim Barker work his magic in 2011?
I always thought that Jim Barker got a raw deal in Toronto in 1999. He led the Boatmen to a 9-9 record and a playoff berth. He was then fired following the season. Well, not fired exactly, because he didn't know he was let go until he showed up to work and the locks to his office were changed. When Barker came back in 2010 not much was expected. He then led the Argos to a 9-9 season, except the locks won't be changed on him this time around. As much as I hate the Argos, I always respected Barker. He is a smart football coach and he makes the Argos better. I don't think any other coach could have got the Argos to nine wins. This was a four- or five-win team with another Head Coach. Let's see what Barker does with the areas that need improvement and see if he has that magic touch again in 2011.

Will Danny Brannigan be given a chance?
Short answer: No, I don't think he will. Longer answer: I think he'll get a shot, but I don't think he'll actually make the team as the #3 QB barring the trade or release of Cleo Lemon or Dalton Bell. Both of them will be back for the Argos next season, but competition must be brought in, so that makes Brannigan no better than fourth. He will be hard pressed to make the 46-man roster after Training Camp, but he might get another year on the Practice Roster.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Three Questions: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Will there be a Grey Cup Hangover?
Losing the Grey Cup two years in a row has to have taken a toll on this team. There is something called the "Super Bowl Hangover" that tends to affect the team that loses the Super Bowl. Over the last decade only two teams (the 2006 Seattle Seahawks and the 2009 Arizona Cardinals) made the playoffs the year following their Super Bowl losses. The Riders obviously didn't fall victim to any hangover by getting back to the Grey Cup in 2010, but two straight defeats must weigh heavily on the minds of the players. Lucky for them Calgary could be forced to rebuild with so many free agents, Edmonton is rebuilding under the stewardship of Eric Tillman, and BC looks to be about a year away from joining the elite (though with the Grey Cup being in Vancouver in 2011, perhaps some moves will be made to up the talent level of the Lions). I think it's safe to say that there will be no hangover in Regina, except for the ones the fans have because of too much consolation Pilsner.

Who replaces Ken Miller as Head Coach?
The front runners appear to be Offensive Coordinator Doug Berry and former Edmonton Head Coach Richie Hall. The Tiger-Cat fan in me hopes the Riders hire Berry so that Hall can come to Hamilton as Defensive Coordinator. However, my gut says that since the Cats have yet to axe Greg Marshall officially, that means Hall has not been willing to commit to the Cats. The only possible reason for that would be a return to Regina. While Berry or someone else could still very much get the job, I think this is Hall's to lose.

Has this team achieved all it can?
Much like question one, this comes down to their competition. Normally, getting to two straight Grey Cups means that little change is needed. But losing two straight Grey Cups means that there is something missing. For one, Darian Durant needs to turn the ball over less. He is way too reckless with the football, and the Riders will never win it all with their star player making that many mistakes. I also think that the change at Head Coach (depending on who gets brought in) could help to change the attitude in the locker room. Not that there is a bad attitude, but perhaps there is a complacent one. I think this team deserves one more chance to win the whole shebang, and if they don't, then the team should look to make changes.

Monday 6 December 2010

Three Questions: Calgary Stampeders

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Calgary Stampeders.

Has Henry Burris peaked?
Burris has done it all. He's won a Grey Cup, he's won an MOP and he's going to go down as one of the greatest QBs in CFL history. Burris is at, or near, the top of the list of players I most enjoy watching. But Burris will be 36 when the season starts and he is admittedly at the tail end of his career. So with his MOP win last year, what else does he have to motivate him? With the Stamps giving a contract extension to Drew Tate, they clearly see the end with Burris being sooner rather than later.

What will happen at Running Back?
The Calgary Stampeders have one of the best problems to have: too many good Running Backs. Both Joffrey Reynolds and Jon Cornish are ├╝ber-talented players who could start for any team in the league. The Stamps used both phenomenally in 2010. They would use Reynolds for two series and then Cornish for one. It kept both men fresh all season. But sooner or later Cornish is going to want to be the bell-cow back that he is capable of being, and Calgary will need to make a decision soon on what direction they want to go in. Reynolds showed this year that he can still play at a high level, but Running Backs have a notoriously short life span, and Reynolds will be entering his eighth season in 2011. It might be time to cut ties with the team's all-time leading rusher and go with the younger Canadian.

Who won't be back?
While free-agent lists haven't been released – something that has seemingly angered TSN's Dave Naylor – it is well known that many of Calgary's big-name players are headed for free agency: the All-Star Defensive Back duo of Brandon Browner and Dwight Anderson, along with the CFL's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman for 2010 Ben Archibald and Receiver Romby Bryant, just to name a few. If Calgary loses a few of their core players, they will be hard pressed to finish in first place in 2011.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Three Questions: Edmonton Eskimos

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the Edmonton Eskimos.

Who will be the Head Coach?
The consensus seems to be that Kavis Reed will be the man that leads the Eskimos out of the tunnel for their first game of the 2011 season. Maybe this is true, maybe it's not. If this is true then 'Kavis Reed' will soon become a synonym for 'failing upward.'

Who will be the starting Quarterback?
Ricky Ray? Jared Zabransky? Someone else? Quarterback is the most important position in football, especially Canadian football. The Eskimos need to make a decision: do they stick with the two-time Grey Cup-winning Ricky Ray or do they give the ball to former Boise St. star Jared Zabransky? Ray gives them their best chance to win now. If they go with Zabransky, however, that means Ray has to be moved. He is too talented, even with all the punishment he's taken, to ride the bench. I think Ray will stay one more season and then the team will move on to the Jared Zabransky era in 2012.

What will Eric Tillman's impact be?
The Eskimos played their tails off at the end of the 2010 season after Tillman took over. Whether that was a sign of things to come or just players playing for their jobs is debatable. One thing is for sure, Eric Tillman has a tremendous track record and he will turn the Eskimos around. It might not be this year, but before too long people who hate the Eskimos will have to put up with some good Edmonton teams.

Saturday 4 December 2010

Three Questions: BC Lions

The off-season is underway and every team faces questions. Today, I look at the questions facing the BC Lions.

Will Travis Lulay take that next step now that he is the undisputed starter?
Lulay had two cracks at the starting spot: at the beginning of the season when Casey Printers was injured, and at the end of the season when Casey Printers was released. The earlier stint wasn't great, but the second stint was successful. He guided the Lions into the playoffs and had two great games against the Tiger-Cats in Week 19 and Saskatchewan in the West Division Semi-Final. The future looks bright for Lulay.

Is this Wally Buono's final season as Head Coach?
Only Wally Buono knows for sure, but my gut says that this is his last season as Head Coach of the BC Lions. Buono will be 61 in February, and the 2011 season will be his 22nd consecutive season patrolling the sidelines. Following the 2011 season, Buono might want to call it quits. While this is likely to be a discussion for the 2012 season, I'd say that Jacques Chapdelaine is the leading candidate to take over for Buono. Buono will still likely be the GM for the Leos, and I wouldn't be surprised if he elevated Chapdelaine.

What happens with some BC veterans?
BC has not been known to be overly sentimental when it comes to veteran players. Guys like Otis Floyd, Dave Dickenson and Jason Clermont have been let go or allowed to leave when the team deemed them expendable. Some players who have contributed greatly to the Lions in the past – Paris Jackson has openly wondered whether he'll return in 2011; Paul McCallum has been asked to take a pay cut – might be sporting new threads in 2011.

Friday 3 December 2010

Ken Miller's Decision and Its Raminfications in Hamilton

As everyone knows, Ken Miller has stepped down as the Head Coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and the decision has some interesting ramifications for the Tiger-Cats.

With Miller moving upstairs, that leaves the Saskatchewan job vacant. Two candidates, at least according to TSN's Dave Naylor, are Richie Hall and Greg Marshall. Now, rumours have been floating around that Marshall has been let go by the Tiger-Cats; whether that is true or not is unknown at this time. The rumoured replacement for Marshall has been one Richie Hall.

If Marshall gets the job, good for him. He's a good football coach and deserves the opportunity to lead a team. Marshall moving to Saskatchewan would also open the door for Hall to come to Hamilton.

Now, what happens if Hall gets the Saskatchewan job? Does that mean that Marshall will remain with the Tiger-Cats? Could the Cats whiff on getting Hall and lose Marshall? Who would the team then hire as Defensive Coordinator? Have the Tiger-Cats acted too quickly in (allegedly) getting rid of Marshall? It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the Tiger-Cats.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Bruce, Hage Named CFLPA All-Stars

Earlier today, Arland Bruce and Marwan Hage were named CFLPA All-Stars.

Both are very deserving as they had great seasons. Congratulations to both of them.

That said, any All-Star nomination that doesn't include Markeith Knowlton and Andy Fantuz doesn't carry much weight with me.

Everyone always talks about how the CFLPA nominations are more prestigious because they are voted on by the players. When two of the best at what they do aren't on the team, there is a flaw in the system. There is some weird formula where the players that players play against vote (e.g. Defensive Linemen vote for Offensive Linemen) and a player cannot vote for players on their own team, but that's no excuse as to how both of them get left off the list.

Fantuz and Knowlton were two of the best players at their position in 2010, and not being named All-Stars by their peers is ridiculous. I don't take All-Star selections very seriously, but the CFLPA selections just took a big hit in the credibility department with me.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Is it really over? Has July 1st to November 28th already come and gone? As hard as it is to believe, the 2010 CFL season has come to an end.

I still recall picking up my season tickets for the first time. I still remember watching the home opener against Calgary. And I still agonize over the heartbreaking loss in the playoffs. It was a wonderful season filled with many ups and many downs. While it didn't end how I, or probably 99.9% of the readers of this blog, had hoped, it was still an amazing and fun ride.

It wasn't too long ago that winning four games was an accomplishment. Now, getting a home playoff game is considered the norm; losing in the first round is considered unacceptable and a gigantic disappointment. This team has come a long way in two years, and I expect even better things in 2011.

These, I'm sure, are sentiments that are felt by every team and every fan base across Canada, save one. The Roughriders reached the Grey Cup for the second year in a row, but they lost for the second year in a row. Edmonton and Winnipeg failed to make the playoffs, the Lions lost in their Semi-Final and Toronto and Calgary fell one game short. I'm sure everyone will be expecting better results in 2011.

Obviously with the season now at an end, I won't be posting as much. Since the season started, I have averaged more than one post a day, and while I love writing, there just aren't that many topics to discuss, especially early in the off-season. When anything happens, I'll be sure to give my spin on it, and if the trend of the past couple of days is any indication, I might be busier than I think.

Lastly, I'd just like to say that I hope everyone has enjoyed reading what I have written during the course of the 2010 CFL season. Whether you agreed or disagreed with what I had to say, I thank you for taking the time to read and/or comment. I hope I can be better in 2011 than I was in 2010.