Saturday, January 26, 2013

Superman swoops into Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Roughriders served notice that perhaps an aerial attack is going to be one of the key parts of their offensive game plan in the 2013 CFL Season.

The Riders made a deal with the BC Lions this week that will bring one of the CFL's most talented and popular players to Saskatchewan for the 2013 (and maybe 2014) season, as Geroy Simon, feeling that he still has something to contribute in a premier role moved on to the Riders.


The move appears rather one sided for the Riders, one of the league's most storied players for a  talent unproven (reportedly Justin Harper ex of the Baltimore Ravens practice roster) and a third round pick in the 2014 Canadian college draft, but in the cold world of professional football it was a business decision for the most part for the Lions.

Not an easy one we imagine, what with Wally Buono attending the press conference wake for the departing Simon, indicative of the respect that the two have for each other, even if they couldn't come to an agreement on dollar figures for a final contract.

For Buono, it fits a pattern, he is constantly seeking ways to replenish the talent banks, bringing in young players, easing them into the line up and giving them a shot when the time arrives. Sometimes that means bidding farewell to the hard working and the popular.

Football after all is a business, and in the CFL one where the bottom line is a most important benchmark and a business that sometimes leaves the emotions on the field when it comes time to ease a player into a lesser role.

Though, in the case of Geroy Simon, probably that has never been a harder football decision to make. Not so much on the football side of the equation, but on the attachment part of it that fans invest in their players.

Simon has been the face, heart and soul of the Lions for twelve years, even as he heads for Saskatchewan he still to a fashion identifies himself as a BC Lion, such was the impact he had on the province and it on him.

In the farewell tour part of his career, rather than take on a reduced role (and reduced salary) in BC, he instead will showcase the Superman move at Mosaic Field, joining a team that has designs on not only hosting the 2013 Grey Cup, but clearly making a case of late that they intend to try to win the thing at home.

Simon will, if he remains healthy (another concern that Buono may have had moving into 2013) provide the Riders with yet another offensive threat, providing for a range of options for the new offensive coordinator George Cortez to fit together as he takes the helm of the Riders offence.

Geroy joins the already talented Rider receiving corps of Dressler, Bagg and Getzlaf, making 2013 a challenging year we imagine for defensive backs.

It is going to be very strange for Lions fans to see Geroy in Green, he has been in Lions Brown and Orange for so long, that he became part of the background of BC Place and British Columbia for that matter, as familiar and reliable as a player and community face as a player could be.

Time as they say marches on, though, as it does, when the clock finally strikes midnight and Geroy calls it a day, we suspect he'll be back in BC quickly, a place in the ring of honour awaits him and when he goes into the CFL Hall of Fame, as he surely will one day, it will be for his days as a BC Lion. As it should be.

In a perfect world, a player retires to the accolades of the team he excelled with, a celebration of shared time and achievement, that celebration in Vancouver will have to be deferred a few years it seems.

Until then, Superman's cape hangs in Saskatchewan, where some of the league's most passionate fans will quickly learn just how special Simon is to a team, a league and a community.

Vancouver Province-- Geroy Simon traded to Roughriders 
Vancouver Province-- Geroy Simon's departure wrenching but it may be for the best
Vancouver Province-- Emotionally, I'm still a B. C. Lion ...
Vancouver Sun-- Geroy Simon,  Lions' 'Superman,' traded to Roughriders
Vancouver Sun-- Dan Dorazio has seen most of Geroy Simon's moves
Vancouver Sun-- It was time for Geroy Simon to move on
Vancouver Sun-- Lions GM Wally Buono insists he 'got something' for Geroy Simon
Regina Leader Post-- Geroy Simon deal welcomed by Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Simon swap was simply super
Regina Leader Post-- Lions trade Geroy Simon to Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Taman, Chamblin talk about Simon trade
Winnipeg Free Press-- Lions ship aging Simon to Roughriders
Canoe Sports-- Roughriders acquire Geroy Simon from Lions
Canoe Sports-- Geroy Simon and Brendan Taman together again on Roughriders
TSN-- Lions trade Simon to Roughriders for Harper, Third round pick
CBC-- Lions send veteran Geroy Simon to Roughriders Riders pass-catchers will look for full season together

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bonjour, Je M'appelle ...

With the departure of Marc Trestman to the Windy City and the chance to take the Chicago Bears on to NFL glory, the Alouettes are considering all of their options when it comes to the next chef de mission de Montreal.

And in this job search, the Als are giving strong consideration to a francophone coach for Quebec's football squad and if ever there was a time for a homegrown coach from Quebec, this could be it.

There are no shortage of possibilities for the position that just opened, with Danny Maciocia, Glen Constantin and Jacques Chapdelaine the most likely candidates. Indicative as it is, of the strength and popularity of football in Quebec these days, that the depth chart is so large when it comes to qualified candidates for the job.

The success of the Laval University Rouge et Or (where Constantine has built a dynasty) is perhaps the best example of just how far football has come in the last two decades.  Where once it was mainly a game between Bishops and McGill, it now regularly offers up highly entertaining contests from the U of M, Laval,  and Sherbrooke, as all three schools have come to dominate the RSEQ in recent years.

That success has more than a few followers of the CFL wondering if perhaps the next expansion phase for the league should not be considering Quebec City, where football has become a rather fierce passion with the Rouge et Or.

In addition to the Laval coach, Danny Maciocia won't be too hard to find, the former Edmonton Eskimos coach now runs the football program at the University of Montreal, moving the Carabins forward and building up that university's presence on the football fields of Quebec.

And then there's Jacques Chapdelaine, the man running the explosive BC Lions offence and always at the top of any list when coaching opportunities seem to pop up.

As the Als weigh their options, the names mentioned all make a fair amount of sense, having rebuilt the game from pretty well the roots up in the province, the next step of a Quebec born member of the coaching staff is perhaps the next logical step for a leading franchise of the CFL.

Montreal Gazette-- No CFL experience required
Montreal Gazette-- Search for Als coach neither simple nor clear-cut
CBC-- Next Alouettes head coach could be bilingual
Winnipeg Free Press-- Francophone coach a possibility as Alouettes owner, GM set to interview candidates

Cortez sets course for Saskatchewan

George Cortez didn't spend much time on the unemployment rolls, the recently dispatched head coach of the Hamilton Tiger Cats will be heading west, set to take on assistant's duties with Cory Chamblin's Saskatchewan Roughriders.

 Cortez was announced as the Riders new offensive coordinator this week and said all the right things about making the shift to Regina, a place where we gather the traffic is a little less daunting than what he had to deal with in the Hammer.

He of course comes about his knowledge of Regina's traffic flow honestly, having previously been the teams Offensive Coordinator back in 2006. Though we imagine that things have picked up a tad in the traffic department in the last seven years.

As for the football aspect of things, Cortez would appear to be a good fit for the Riders, he has a comfort zone there and appears to be firmly on the same page as his boss, in fact it was Chamblin who first brought the name to the table for Rider management to consider.

It's a wise head coach that doesn't feel threatened, that he isn't afraid to find the right peg for the right hole and with the arrival of Cortez in Saskatchewan, the Rider offence which has always been a high octane kind of thing, will be finding new ways to make use of their many options.

And the Riders will find that the vast knowledge of the CFL that Cortez brings with him (he's been a fixture on CFL coaching staffs since1984) will make the Riders a most formidable foe in this upcoming season.

The only downside to the signing, is that a rising star in the coaching ranks will have to shuffle sideways to make room (if he wishes to) as Bob Dyce surrenders the offensive coordinator role.

While there is no doubt disappointment at how things turned out in Hamilton, a team that really should have done much better in 2012 than their record provided for, still you have to think that perhaps more than one season would have been required to get a feeling for what the Ti Cats had to offer.

With Saskatchewan he joins a team that seems poised to once again become a major factor in the highly competitive CFL West. A team, which is hosting the Grey Cup this season and would like nothing better than to be the main attraction for that last weekend of November.

There are still a few months to go before the Riders head to camp, a bit more time for Cortez and the family to sort out the best driving routes around Regina, Rider fans are surely hoping that he's driving to Mosaic Field right up until Grey Cup Sunday.

Regina Leader Post--  Taman pleased with addition of Cortez
Regina Leader Post-- Cortez hiring is a coup for the Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Torn between two columns
Canoe-- George Cortez joins Roughriders
TSN-- Roughriders agree to Terms with Cortez as new OC
CBC-- Ex Tiger Cat coach heading to Riderville

Correction: As a sharp eye reader has discovered, we in error placed Cortez in the position of offensive co-ordinator in 2006, in fact he was the Offensive line coach, many thanks for the proof reading!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lulay and the Leos, it's all about commitment

In a week where one high profile CFLer made his much discussed move to the NFL, another was taking a different path, throwing his future in with the league where he has found some impressive success in a very short time.

On Thursday, the BC Lions announced that they will have Travis Lulay in their future until the 2015 season, as the Lions QB signed on for a two year contract extension to remain in Leos Orange.

(See Lions video here)

It's a contract that will pay him more than 450,000 a season and places him at the top of the CFL pay grid along with Ricky Ray and Anthony Calvillo in the marquee quarterback category.

It is also a contract term that would seem to suggest that the lure of the NFL while always there for CFL players, didn't overshadow what is best for the QB, his family, the Lions and even the CFL.

Lulay's offensive skills have been on display for a number of years now for the Leos, slowed only by injury in the last season, which ended in a disappointment for British Columbia when they lost the CFL Western final to perennial rival the Calgary Stampeders.

That's a season ending disappointment that you get the feeling that Lulay and the Lions are anxious to address in 2013.

With the QB extended in the fold for the next three years, the prospect of more high flying offence from the Lions is secure, Lulay along with a stable of some of the best of offensive weapons available over the last few years, has provided for some of the most entertaining football that Lions fans have seen in years.

Wally Buono has made a habit of it over the years of ensuring that his offence is built around a strong quarterback, someone who can direct the offence and offer the kind of on field leadership that lifts a team around them.

In Lulay, the Lions have that and much more, a strong presence in the community for the Leos, who will do as much off the field as he does on it to help build the Lions brand in a crowded marketplace.

The QB spot as many a CFL team can tell you (hello Winnipeg) is the key decision that any GM and coach have to make.

Once again, Wally Buono has found the right guy for the job, at the right time.

Vancouver Sun-- Lions, Travis Lulay committed to each other, to winning another championship
Vancouver Sun-- Travis Lulay's ship safely secure in Lions' harbour
Vancouver Province-- Lions lock up Lulay with two-year contract extension Lions go long with Travis Lulay, sign star QB to contract extension
CBC-- Lions give QB Travis Lulay contract extension

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Top Bird takes flight south

CFL fans no doubt will feel a little bit of pride from yesterday's announcement that Marc Trestman will be taking the helm of one of the storied franchises of the NFL, the Chicago Bears.

It is and always will be the team that Halas built  and through its storied history it has had a strong stable of head coaches, 14 in total and some of them icons of the game really.

And now, into those giant shoes, will arrive the unassuming Mr. Trestman, by the account of anyone it seems who has ever dealt with  him, one of the nicest men to ever blow a whistle on a football field..

His success in the CFL speaks for itself, Grey Cup Championships, Eastern Division Championships the key member of a Montreal team that has been a dynasty for so many years in the CFL. The measure of his impact on the league and its players, the unanimous flood of good wishes from present and past players, some who spent years with him; others, but a few snaps on a practice roster.

He leaves the CFL a much better place, his Alouette teams over the years were among the elite of our game, entertaining, disciplined and formidable for all that faced them, a pretty good resume to bring to Chicago, a city that worships football and everything about Da Bears.

A city that is still very split and justifiably so, over the firing of Lovie Smith, who actually had a winning record in the Windy City. Though, as has been reviewed and over this year, at the helm of a team that missed the playoffs, a rather cardinal sin in Illinois.

It's into that overwhelming twelve month a year coverage that Trestman will now tread, a media tornado that we suspect he has never quite seen before, nor we imagine, once he has become established in the NFL he will have to face again.

Not to mention the pressure, oh the pressure, Chicago wants to dance (see above) and now it's up to Trestman to bust some moves.

For Montreal the hole will be huge to fill, but considering that teams stable ownership and management we imagine that they have always had a back up plan in place, the time it seems has come to take it off the back shelf, dust it off and start making the phone calls.

Some of the reviews of Marc Trestman's answer to the call of the NFL can be found below.

Chicago Tribune-- Trestman to unveil vision for Bears
Chicago Tribune-- Trestman hire a 'leap of faith'
Chicago Tribune-- Bears put trust in Trestman
Chicago Tribune-- Marc Trestman: A life in football
Chicago Tribune-- Hot prospect days behind him, Trestman's time has finally come
Chicago Tribune-- Marc Trestman chose to be Bears' new coach
Chicago Sun Times-- Marc Trestman becomes Bears 14th head coach
Chicago Sun Times-- Bears introduce Marc Trestman as new head coach
Chicago Sun Times-- 10 things you need to know about Marc Trestman
Chicago Sun Times-- Mike Ditka: Marc Trestman has 'best job in the NFL'
Chicago Sun Times-- How Marc Trestman went from CFL to Bears head coach
Chicago Sun Times-- So does this mean Tim Tebow to the Bears?
Chicago Sun Times-- Marc Trestman needs to stop the Jay Cutler star treatment
Chicago Sun Times-- Brandon Marshall throws support behind Marc Trestman
Chicago Daily Herald-- Emery gets his man in Trestman
Chicago Daily Herald-- New Bears coach has supporters, detractors
Montreal Gazette-- When, not if, with Trestman
Montreal Gazette-- Marc Trestman of the Alouettes named head coach of Chicago Bears
Globe and Mail-- Marc Trestman lands Chicago Bears coaching job
National Post-- Marc Trestman gives up Alouettes to become new Bears head coach

Tuesday, January 01, 2013