The late part of Bob Hughes’ career at the Leader-Post was memorable only in its horror in what he had become. In 2005, during the lockout of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalists, he used his Leader-Post column to blame the union for screwing up coverage of the Canada Summer Games in Regina when the union members were the ones locked out, and when the Canadian Media Guild called him out on his inaccuracy, he wrote another article praising himself for having the audacity of taking on the union – and not acknowledging that he got his facts wrong.
But Hughes made his bones covering the Roughriders during their Reign of Error, and nobody becomes the editor of the Leader-Post – as he was – without making more than a few contacts with the Old Regina Families who run this city: the property developers, lawyers, senior provincial government officials and businessmen who have a way of sponsoring the winning candidates in civic elections, who then turn around and bestow upon them favours in a municipal circle jerk.
Hughes used to have (maybe he still does, I don’t know) his unofficial Tuesday Club meetings with a few people in official Regina (Tom Shepherd was one of them), and that’s where he’d trade tall tales and Get The Official Story.
So, seeing Bob Hughes’ latest diatribe about the Roughrider situation (reposted at Rod Pedersen’s website) is, on the surface, a very strange broadside against the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ management. Under the surface, it’s almost certainly the sound of the Roughrider Board of Directors clearing their throat and asking Jim Hopson, ‘what the **** are you doing? Who are these clowns you’ve hired to run our team? Is this the best you can do?’
So far, even Bob’s old paper is in a strong state of denial.(Leader-Post) Today’s sports section suggests that there’s nothing the matter with Rider offense. Statistics are for losers, even if you gain 515 yards in offense (cfl.ca) – the Calgary’s defense went into prevent mode after the interception return making it 38-14 halfway through the third quarter. This allowed the Riders to move the ball as long as they chewed up the clock. As well, Calgary took a boatload of penalties that kept Rider drives alive.
Win or lose in Toronto on Thursday, my gut instinct tells me that head coach Greg Marshall will be fired and replaced by somebody that’s not on the current coaching staff. Ken Miller, the former coach and VP of football operations, is on a scouting mission, but he’ll be back soon, and dollars to doughnuts he’ll take over as coach for the upcoming back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The only alternative would be for Marshall to coach the Riders into Labour Day, and the following game in Winnipeg, where the Riders would get destroyed. (The Riders’ defense may or may not be able to defeat Winnipeg’s offense, but the Riders’ O certainly can’t beat the best defense in the Canadian Football League). Then the fans would be demanding real change – not just a sacrificial virgin or two thrown down the volcano to appease the Gods of Rider Pride, but some real housecleaning that would probably cost Hopson his job – if not in mid-September, then by the end of the season.
Greg Marshall will be the first ‘meat shield’ to fall. When the end of the season rolls around, Hopson will be invisible, and Barry Taman will become the next fall guy, by hiring a head coach who won’t have either the support system necessary (a good scouting system, which Taman DOESN’T have) or the front office support (unless Miller is also turfed and the board tells Hopson either he’s fired or the next time he wants to get involved in football matters, grab the controller and play Madden 11 on his grandson’s Xbox).
It’s not so much what was said in Hughes’ column (hell, take a look at what I wrote after Friday’s embarrassment) but who said it. (prairie dog) If Hughes is writing this, it’s because the board of directors is unhappy and pondering the next move. Marshall shouldn’t buy any green bananas, because a panicky Jim Hopson is lining up the dominos to take the fall for him.