This has been one fun summer!
The highlight of the heatwave came this past Saturday at Mosaic Stadium where, just before the Roughriders' first-place showdown with the BC Lions, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced the new stadium in Regina is a 'go'. The Riders expect to move into their new home at Evraz Place, about 300 yards to the west of the current stadium, in 2017.
Then the Riders went out and knocked off the defending Grey Cup champions 23-20 to become the only undefeated team in the CFL at 3-0. The highlight of the game was a 129-yard missed field goal return by Tristan Jackson, a Rider franchise record, which provided the winning points in the fourth quarter.
To me leadership is saying something positive is going to happen, then going out and doing it. Earlier in the week Rider coach Corey Chamblin mentioned there hasn't been a return touchdown for this team since 2007 and felt it was time that changed. Then it happened. Jackson smiled on our post-game show when he said "I wasn't even touched!"
Jackson also admitted that he was very upset earlier in the week when informed by Chamblin that he won't be allowed to return kicks AND patrol the corner like he did in 2011. Chamblin's reasoning is that he wants to keep "T-Jack" fresh, and use all 42 guys on the bench. Then, the very next game, Jackson enters the record book and wins the game.
Leadership. Vision. Confidence.
It reminds me of Bob Poley's legendary story about their game-winning drive in the 1989 Grey Cup. In the huddle Kent Austin said "guys we're gonna march it down the field, Ridge is gonna kick a field goal to win this thing and we're gonna get out of here with the Grey Cup". It happened exactly the way Austin said it would.
So far the similarities between the young coaching careers of Chamblin and Austin are eerily similar. They're so obvious I don't even need to point them out, but as each week goes by we're starting to see a difference in their methods.
Austin, on his way to a Grey Cup win in his rookie season on the Rider sidelines and Coach of the Year honours in 2007, never really relied on gimmicks. His pregame speeches were legendary and held the team in the palm of his hand each time he spoke.
Chamblin goes a little deeper. He's been showing his team videos of past Grey Cup wins and playoff losses. Last week he printed over-sized game tickets for each coach and player called it "the Big Ticket" against BC. The next day he trash talked the Lions by calling them a "mouthy bunch".
Then they silenced the cats on game day.
Austin was 2-1 at this point while Chamblin is 3-0.