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Tuesday Takes – The Saskatchewan Screwjob

Published: Tuesday, Jan 22nd 2019, 12:01am

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

Bret Screwed Bret (I mean the Riders Screwed the Riders)

 

It was November 9, 1997. Montreal, Quebec… the Montreal Screwjob. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart lost his WWF (now WWE) Title to ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels in shocking fashion.

 

 

January 15, 2019. Regina, Saskatchewan… Chris Jones turns his back on the CFL and bolts to the NFL and the Cleveland Browns, just days after signing an extension with the Riders, stunning the CFL world.

 

 

I take us on this trip down memory lane for one reason. After the Montreal Screwjob, WWE Owner Vince McMahon told fans that he didn’t screw Bret Hart… Bret Hart screwed Bret Hart. In Saskatchewan, it wasn’t Chris Jones that screwed the Riders… the Riders screwed the Riders.

 

Twitter has been abuzz over the last week over who’s fault it is that there was no succession plan in place for the Riders. President and CEO Craig Reynolds should be shouldering the blame for the Chris Jones fallout and the inability to hire a new head coach immediately, but only for one reason. He gave Chris Jones too much power.

First, let me preface this by saying, anyone in their right mind would leave the CFL for the NFL and you will never see me say anything bad about leaving a place to better themselves. The money is better (in this case, in the long run) and there is way more advancement opportunity. Chris Jones hit the top of the CFL mountain. He had it all. Vice-President of Football Operations, General Manager, Head Coach, Defensive Co-ordinator, Waterboy, Head of Ticket Sales and Lead Cheerleader.

All those titles meant that when Jones left the Riders, they would have many shoes to fill. Step one: Enter Jeremy O’Day. This was the most logical pick for GM (he was interim GM back in 2015 after all) and has been learning the last 3 years. He’s a great choice to lead this team and he bleeds green. He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 

Defensive Co-ordinator is still a question mark, but the CFL salary cap on coaches likely puts Defensive Backs Coach Jason Shivers at the top of the list and most likely candidate to fill that role. He’s been in the Jones system for a few years, knows the playbook and the players. It’s the smartest move. Whomever the new Head Coach is can focus on getting a QB for the team and look at fixing that god awful offensive.

So about that Head Coach… well, the Ottawa REDBLACKS won’t let the Riders interview their Offensive Co-ordinator Jamie Elizondo (I think this has to do with fear of losing both him and Trevor Harris, but that’s another discussion) and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are doing the same with their OC Paul Lapolice. Can’t say I fault either of them, it IS getting late in the offseason calendar and teams need to get their staff in place ahead of free agency.

 

What is absolute garbage, though, is preventing one of your employees from trying to advance their careers and better themselves. I don’t care which teams did it, or the timing (although I completely understand the timing)… holding an employee back is NEVER a good thing. I could go on about how the REDBLACKS and the Blue Bombers are jerks for this, but back to the Riders.

O’Day is now pretty much handcuffed on who he can interview and hire for the job. I think it will end up being current Special Teams Co-ordinator Craig Dickenson, but the point is, O’Day should be allowed to interview who he wants as long as the potential interviewee approves. O’Day is handcuffed because he doesn’t have ample time to do a full search.

 

While it sure doesn’t help the cause that Winnipeg and Ottawa won’t play ball, it’s not their fault. Reynolds shouldn’t have let Chris Jones get this many spots to fill in the first place, not someone that has a proven track record of never being in a spot more than a couple of years, not someone who wouldn’t at least rent a house in the place he was hired. Reynolds shouldn’t have let Chris Jones spend and spend and spend, forcing him to go to the league, pushing for the salary cap on coaches. Reynolds should have reigned in HIS hire and made the inevitable transition process easier that it is right now.

The other teams didn’t screw the Riders… Chris Jones didn’t screw the Riders. The Riders screwed the Riders.

 

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