Last night at the Power of Humanity Gala, put on by the Canadian Red Cross of Regina, Jim Hopson and I had a brief chance to talk ball while crossing paths at the reception.
It’s always good to run into the former President of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and as we went back and forth about certain aspects of the team our conversation turned out to be incredibly positive.
Imagine that…Two football guys talking optimistically about the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015!
Don’t get me wrong, the positivity regarding the Green and White didn’t have anything to do with the Montreal game or anything else that has gone on in the organization as of late. “Hoppy” and I are actually pretty excited about the very near future here in Riderville; and I don’t think we’re alone.
The minute the final whistle blows in Montreal on Sunday, two things will happen. First, there will be a huge sigh of relief throughout the entire province; the suffering will finally be over. Second. The fun begins! The Saskatchewan Roughriders pursuit of a Grey Cup in 2016 will begin on the bus ride to the airport!
Now I say pursuit of a Grey Cup because that’s ALWAYS the goal. Whomever Craig Reynolds hires as GM, Head Coach, whatever…that person(s) needs to come in with all intents of winning a Grey Cup, and using that language. If the smoke clears, and the man left standing is someone who speaks of “rebuilding” over the next couple of years; this organization will have made the wrong choice.
It’s all in the attitude. You have to be about the BUSINESS OF WINNING. The Saskatchewan Roughriders can push towards a model of “SUSTAINED SUCCESS” without sacrificing the pursuit of a Championship! This isn’t a case of sacrificing one for the other, it’s been done before.
I know that last paragraph may scare some of you. Many think the previous GM and Head Coach sacrificed too much to win at all costs, but I’m not suggesting that the new leadership needs to adhere to that path. I’m stating the fact that no matter what path is taken, this team cannot submit to having “we’re rebuilding” attitude.
This team has ALL the resources that it needs to jump back into the thick of things. The Riders are the only team in the league that can safely make that claim. If you’ve taken in any of our OFFSIDES Podcasts lately, you’ll recognize the fact that most of these CFL teams haven’t made any huge leaps and bounds, so despite this ABYSMAL record, the pathway back may not be as arduous as we think.
This is going to be great to watch. It’s a GMs dream; take a team that’s had all its weaknesses exposed and fill them with players that fit the mold and schemes of the new coaching staff.
Once again, THIS TEAM HAS ALL THE RESOURCES.
Speaking of resources. Let’s go back to the last thought…a new coaching staff! How could there not be change? Right now the Green and White coaches are a group that was hand-picked by Corey Chamblin himself; hires and fires. Now this doesn’t mean that every one of these coaches should be jettisoned immediately. There should ALWAYS be a place on a staff for good people like Bobby Dyce, however in this day and age the hiring should be done primarily by the newly appointed HC. Another move this organization cannot make is hiring a Head Coach and then proceeding to not give him a say when it comes to his staff. It rarely happens that way, but one never knows in this biz.
What fun to be had! New ideas, fresh concepts, new players, and an entire off season to meticulously sort everything out; It’s not a race! *Although GM and Coaching staff should be done far before February’s Free Agency period.
So there it is. Finally. We can all start looking towards a brighter future. As long as the Saskatchewan Roughriders doesn’t resign itself to the “we won’t be good this year, but we’re building towards the future” jargon, we’ll be ok. Rebuilding mentalities don’t work out. All they do is foster a losing environment and re-set the bar as low as possible. *See the Toronto Maple Leafs #RebuildingForever
This team should expect to win. There should be a sense of urgency to get back on top. Saskatchewan is the Crown Jewel of the CFL and with only 4 Championships in its history, the Roughriders need to make the pursuit of a Championship part of its CULTURE.
I’m excited about the next step here. I don’t have illusions of grandeur where a situation like the Ottawa RedBlacks will happen in 2016; the main reason for their success has been cohesion and consistency from year one to year two, and that is something that cannot be forged from the situation in Ridernation. I simply believe that Craig Reynolds has a stacked deck in terms of what he has to work with and how he will be able to acquire talent.
As much as we talk here about the BUSINESS of football, we don’t necessarily embrace it as part of the process. This off season, the business side of the game will be our friend. Sadly that means some tough decisions on some of your favourite players, but at least things will get done in an effort to get back to where we belong vs. salary dumping to maintain. Embrace the business this year folks.
Change is finally here. All the forecasting and chatter surrounding the Riders will be replaced by concrete decisions. Hopefully they’re the right ones. Only time will tell.
The resources are there. The fan base is there. And the need to develop sustained success is now at the forefront. All there is to do now is wait on the final whistle of the Montreal game on Sunday.
Cups up to the boys in their final game together as brothers. The future is uncertain, but it’s going to be a great time watching it take shape.
Prepare yourself for change Ridernation. Can’t wait!