So I had expected this week’s column would be all about the efforts by the Canadian Football League to open the doors to international talent.
While I will circle around to that I am sure, the resignation of Chris Jones, general manager and coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has definitely hijacked my thoughts.
So no one can fault a coach or player for heading south to the NFL to make more money. Championships are a rare thing in sport, the Cleveland Browns where Jones is headed has never even been in a Super Bowl, so take the money and be happy.
As for Jones legacy in Saskatchewan, for me it is very much a Jekyll and Hyde scenario.
To the good, the Riders were a win away from a Grey Cup berth in 2017, then regressed by bowing out in the first round in 2018. To Jones’ credit the team won its share of games.
Those wins in 2018 came largely from a strong defence, Jones’ forte. But the defence was one largely predicated on big plays resulting in points for the Roughriders. If those big plays did not transpire the defence was much more ordinary.
The offence was a mystery box because of huge question marks at quarterback, and those questions loom ever-larger headed to the 2019 season.
Zach Collaros was not particularly good when fully healthy, and health was an ongoing issue to boot. He certainly is not worth the money paid him in 2019, and if he is your best option in the new season, it’s not good news offensively.
Part of Jones’ legacy will be his inability to trade for, sign a free agent, or find a talent to develop at the key spot on a football team.
The ‘Riders also became largely unlikeable under Jones, wins notwithstanding.
Jones was not community-friendly, and it seemed to permeate the team. The defence was big play but the swagger they deserved to show often edged into arrogance which is less likeable.
The offence just never excelled to the point of having a star to cheer for.
Fans were left wondering whose name to put on a jersey they purchased.
But no coach is bigger than a team, so we move on, and Jones becomes a somewhat tarnished memory.
The issue for the ‘Riders now is naming someone quickly as free agency and the season loom quickly ahead.
Assistants Stephen McAdoo and Craig Dickenson get mentioned as possible replacements. McAdoo is the offensive coordinator and the offense was largely uninventive when it needed to be creative, so he is not on my list.
Marc Trestman gets a lot of mention, and is the best option unless you risk trusting an unknown.
Paul LaPolice is another name mentioned based on experience.
Whoever it is, they need to be hired quickly.
And now for a quick word on what has been termed CFL 2.0. I am a fan of anything that grows the CFL brand, and opening the door to additional talent pools makes sense.
The National Football League with its gobs of money is talking expanding rosters because they like paying players to carry clip boards or watch from a skybox. As I said go for the money, so some talent that would look good on a CFL field will be paid well to never play a serious down of football if the NFL roster continues to grow.
Looking to Mexico, Germany and other countries playing football, is a logical one with a huge potential upside and very little downside.