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  • Reeve Batstone

Win or Go Home Time

In its own unique way, the CFL unveiled its all stars this week (twice). Last week I wrote about the credibility issues that the league office has continued to accumulate of the self- inflicted variety and as if on cue it embarrassed itself again. The CFL came under plenty of criticism for botching the announcement of all stars so I will refrain from piling on. One contextual point I would make is that the ardent Canadian football fan really does want the beleaguered league and its commissioner’s office to succeed. It plays such an important role in the success and security of the Canadian game that the passionate fans see its decisions and strategy as a risk to the future of the game as often as they see it as a caretaker. The fans really do care, especially in an environment where the attendance and viewership, if not the Canadian on field ratio, has declined. They genuinely worry when the league does a face plant because they see larger implications for the image and success of their beloved game and its stewardship by the league. Its fragile enough without more self sabotage. Never mind ineffectual marketing strategy, it's painful to watch its leadership fail to execute on things that the average fan feels are very pedestrian responsibilities. Some of the fanbase has lost trust in the league's leadership and resigned themselves to disappointment.

Now, on to the league awards. I don't agree that Zach Collaros is the MOP for the West. He may be the MVP but Nathan Rourke is the Most Outstanding Player. There is a difference. Collaros was instrumental in his team winning the west and as such was most valuable to his team, and perhaps the west. However, there is little doubt that the performance of Nathan Rourke was outstanding in every respect. He was on pace to break Flutie's records before his untimely injury. At no time did Collaros threaten Flutie's season record for TDs or passing yards. The difference is subtle but real. This does not diminish Collaros' season but Rourke was more outstanding, that is to say he stood out more. On Sunday v the Stampeders vaunted defence Rourke (and Pipkin) put up a QB efficiency rating of a sizzling 145. Rourke also led the league in QB efficiency rating this regular season.

Likewise former Argo Shawn Lemon was not the west's best defensive player. He had a fine season sacking the quarterback but he is not even the best defensive player on his own team. There are at least two and possibly three teammates on the Stampeders who had better seasons. Jameer Thurman, and Cameron Judge both had better seasons. Mike Rose wasn't bad either. Jameer Thurman almost never misses a tackle and had 9 v the Lions Sunday. Meanwhile Lemon had 2 tackles, neither a sack. He was virtually invisible. Lemon is the sentimental choice this year but he is not the best in the west.

Jumping to the coach of the year, it must be sweet for Ryan Dinwiddie and the Argos front office to have him nominated again. Midway through the season a member of the local media and member of the CFHOF capriciously tweeted that he should be fired. At the time it was unjustified and now it looks even more foolish. Congratulations to Dinwiddie and the decision of management to hire and stick with a young position coach. Clearly, he proved to be the right choice despite the "football media experts."

Finally, it was bittersweet to see the TiCats lose to the Als Sunday. Not because I like the Ticats, in fact I was getting tired of seeing them in the Grey Cup, but because it may be the last game for some of their luminaries.Its hard not to imagine that the Ticats will not make significant line up changes next year. Former Argo, Chris van Zeyl and Simoni Lawrence are two long time veterans who missed significant time due to injury this past year. Sunday may have been their last games as TiCats, if not the CFL. The Argos have three or four in this category as well. If so, lets hope they get the ideal send off later in two weeks time.


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