Saturday, February 26, 2011

Barker Wins Coach of the Year

Jim Barker Showing His True Colours (Photo courtesy of http://www.argos-suck.com/)
In what should come as a surprise to no one, Jim Barker has been named the CFL's Coach of the Year for 2010.

Barker took a moribund Argonaut team that had won seven games in the previous two seasons combined and took them to the East Division Final in 2010. He did it with unarguably the worst starting Quarterback in the CFL in Cleo Lemon. He made the Argos matter again. Barker beat out Marc Trestman of Montreal and Ken Miller of Saskatchewan.

That said, if everyone agrees that Barker won the award because of how he turned Toronto around, why was Marcel Bellefeuille denied the same recognition just last year? Bellefeuille ended up losing the award to Trestman. Ken Miller was again the other finalist.

Bellefeuille did everything Barker did in 2010, just one year earlier. The only differences are that the Tiger-Cats did not win a playoff game, and Bellefeuille had a better Quarterback.

But still, many say that the Coach of the Year award is given to the coach who did the most with the least or who ended up exceeding expectations. In 2010, that was easily Barker. In 2009, it was easily Bellefeuille. Yet Bellefeuille was passed over in favour of Trestman. Yes, Montreal had a phenomenal season, finishing 15-3 and winning the Grey Cup, but I believe, as I did a year ago, that Bellefeuille should have been given the award.

I take nothing away from Jim Barker; he absolutely deserved to win this award. Six wins was the over/under for the Argos in 2010 – with many taking the under – so to win nine and a playoff game went above and beyond. Congratulations to Jim Barker.

Finally

I said months ago that I was done talking about the stadium. I said I would only talk about it when everything was resolved.

I said nothing when the idea to renovate Ivor Wynne Stadium was passed by council, because TO2015 (formerly HostCo) had to sign off on it.

Yesterday, they finally did.

One of the most ridiculous sagas I have ever witnessed is finally over with.

There is no point in pointing fingers now. What's done is done. It is time to look to the future.

From day one, I have said that I couldn't care less where the stadium was put as long as it was built somewhere. That was my only criterion. That has been met, so I'm satisfied.

I would be remiss if I failed to bring up the campaign that started some time ago to Save Ivor Wynne Stadium. Long before anyone else floated this option, one man took it upon himself to call for the renovation of Ivor Wynne Stadium. No one took him seriously, myself included, but a part of me is glad he fought for this. I have no idea if his campaigning had anything to do with solving this debacle, but he deserves credit for being the first to bring up this idea. I tip my cap to you, Larry. Fine job, sir.

This whole mess is now behind us. I look forward to seeing games at a renovated Ivor Wynne Stadium. A brand new stadium would have been nice, but keeping the Tiger-Cat tradition at Balsam and Beechwood suits me just fine.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time to Extend a Couple More

The Tiger-Cats have been handing out a lot of contract extensions this off-season. Markeith Knowlton, Jamall Johnson and Quinton Porter have all received extensions in the past month.

Now it is time for the team to lock up two other players, perhaps Hamilton's two most important players:

Kevin Glenn and Arland Bruce.

The Tabbies seem to be making it a priority to sign their key players, and if that is the case Glenn and Bruce (if they are willing) need to be re-upped pronto.

The resurgence of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats can be traced back to many moves over the past two-plus years, but arguably the most important moves came when the team signed Glenn and traded for Bruce.

Glenn has been nothing short of phenomenal since arriving in Hamilton. He had arguably the best season of his career in 2010, and did so by setting many single-season Tiger-Cat records, erasing Danny McManus from the record book in the process, which is no small feat. Glenn is only 31 and probably has three to five good years left in him. Inking him to an extension should now be of top priority.

Much of Glenn's greatness these past two years can be attributed to being able to hook up with Arland Bruce. Amid much fanfare, Bruce arrived in July of 2009, and while many wondered about his reported poor attitude, Bruce has been a model citizen since coming to Hamilton. He has been the gamebreaking Receiver that was advertised, and then some. If Glenn is the top priority, Bruce is a very close second.

There is no reason to believe that either of these guys wants to leave Hamilton, so if Obie is going to start extending contracts, it's time to get Glenn and Bruce inked to longer-term deals.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Johnson, Now Porter?

Take this with a huge grain of salt because of the source, but Perry Lefko is reporting that the Tiger-Cats are on the verge of signing Quinton Porter to a contract extension.

Myself and many people who follow the CFL as fans know that Lefko's reliability is questionable at best. But the article he wrote has quotes from Porter, so I guess it is a fairly safe bet to say that the team is working on something with the former starter.

It has been a rough couple of years for Porter since he lost his starting job, rightfully, to Kevin Glenn at the end of the 2009 season. He saw very little playing time in 2010, and then took to his hometown paper to voice his displeasure with not being the starter. I took him to task for that. A point that I stand by.

If Porter is willing to be a loyal backup, then bringing him back and hoping he develops is not a problem. The team clearly sees enough in him to keep him around.

I am, however, a little surprised they would extend him seeing as there has been a lot of chatter that the Cats were looking to trade either him or Adam Tafralis (or both). Maybe that still happens, or maybe the Porter extension means that Tafralis is on his way out. Anything is possible.

For the time being, it looks like Porter will once again be the backup to Kevin Glenn. I'm sure that notion makes quite a few Tiger-Cat fans nervous.

McDaniel On the Block

According to Drew Edwards, Marquay McDaniel is being shopped around, and the front-runner seems to be the BC Lions.

The pertinent quote is:
A reliabe [sic] source tells me the Ticats are looking to deal import WR Marquay McDaniel and are looking for a non-import offensive lineman in return. One possible destination could be the B.C. Lions, who have eight Canadian hogs on the roster at the moment.
McDaniel has been a convenient scapegoat for the loss to Toronto in the East Division Semi-Final last season. He dropped more than a couple of key passes, but he was far from the only player to underperform in the playoffs last year. McDaniel is entering his third season, and he came within two yards of 1,000 in 2010. That's not the type of guy a team should be looking to rid itself of.

I think McDaniel deserves at least one more season to show what he can do. He is clearly talented, and perhaps his drops in the most important game of the year could be the kick in the butt he needs to take his game to the next level.

At this point, trading him for an O-Lineman is not a good move, in my opinion. After Bruce, Stala and Mann, the Cats don't have much at the Receiver position. I believe the Tabbies need McDaniel more than they need a Canadian Offensive Lineman.

I hope these rumours end up bearing no fruit, but where there is smoke there is fire. Maybe this is part of a series of moves that could see another import Receiver come to Hamilton (perhaps Kelly Campbell?), but even if that is the case, I think I would prefer to see the team retain McDaniel.

The Cats have been very busy; I just hope these changes produce the desired results in 2011.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cobourne's Number, Clarification on the Cats in 2012 and Some More Schedule Talk

When a new player signs, the first thing I always wonder is what number he will wear. Avon Cobourne wore #6 in Montreal, but Marquay McDaniel wears #6 for the Cats. So this got me wondering what number he will wear when he takes the field for the first time with Hamilton.

So what did I do? It's 2011, so I took to Twitter to ask the man himself. His answer was short and sweet: #22.

So anyone who wants to grab an Avon Cobourne jersey early (as in before they find their way onto the shelves of the Tigertown Store), you now know what number to put on said jersey.

In my piece where I took the CFL to task for the Labour Day Classic fiasco, one of the reasons I was so angry was because I thought that the Cats would be playing all of their 2012 games away from Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Well, thanks to one of my Twitter followers, I have been informed that the Cats will likely play 2013, not 2012, away from Ivor Wynne Stadium while it undergoes renovations.

I still do not like the idea that the Argos and Cats won't be playing on the first Monday in September in 2011, but at least we Tiger-Cat fans won't be robbed of the Labour Day Classic two years in a row.

Continuing the Twitter trend, as many of you probably know, I Tweet what I write to my followers. When I Tweeted my post about the schedule fiasco, the CFL's Twitter feed responded. I don't blame the league, per se, for the scheduling problem; I understand that the stadium formerly known as the SkyDome is to blame. But more should have been done to ensure that the Labour Day Classic was played.

That said, I wonder if the reason the schedule was delayed so long (it took almost three weeks from first mention to actual release) was because the league was doing everything it could to get the Labour Day Classic on there?

What's done is done, but I hope I never have to write about the Argos not being in Hamilton on Labour Day again.

Jamall Johnson to Sign Extension

Last week was a busy one in the land of Oskee Wee Wees, but the biggest news should come down later today, as Linebacker Jamall Johnson has reportedly agreed to a contract extension with the Tabbies.

Great news! Johnson has been an absolute stud since coming to Hamilton in 2009. Johnson has had over 100 tackles in each of his two seasons in Hamilton, and if it wasn't for Markeith Knowlton, Johnson might be known as the best Linebacker in the CFL.

With Knowlton, Johnson and the recently acquired Rey Williams all signed through the 2013 season, the Cats have the best Linebacking group in the CFL, and will for many years to come.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Explanation Will Suffice

I needed to take a day to digest it all, but to say I am one angry Ging' would be an understatement.

I do not care for any explanation that the league conjured up; to not have the Argos in Hamilton on Labour Day means that there will be no Labour Day Classic in 2011.

The league talked about competitive balance. Fine and dandy. Where was the care for competitive balance in 2010 when Hamilton and Winnipeg played four times in seven weeks? (Five times in eight weeks, if you count the final pre-season game.)

Where will be the care for competitive balance when the Cats will likely have to play their entire 2012 season on the road?

Where is the care for competitive balance when this season, in a schedule the league just released, the Cats will play six of their last nine games away from Ivor Wynne? Don't give me the junk that the Moncton game is a home game. It's a "home" game, not a home game. The Cats will not be playing in front of 25,000 of their fans in the friendly confines of their stadium. So the Cats can play six of nine away from home to end the season, but the Argos can't play six of nine from home to start the season?

Also, teams play front- and/or back-loaded schedules all the time; this would have been no different. Montreal played their first three games on the road in 2010, and it didn't seem to hurt them any. (In case anyone forgot, they won the Grey Cup.)

To make matters worse, since the 2012 CFL season will not be played at Ivor Wynne Stadium, while it undergoes renovations for the Pan Am Games, that means that we Ti-Cat fans will go two years without seeing the hated Argos descend on Hamilton to get their butts whooped on the first Monday of September.

This is unacceptable. I was very much looking forward to the 2011 CFL season (and I still very much am), but the loss of the Labour Day Classic casts a dark cloud over the entire year. What should have been a great day (the day the schedule was released) turned into an unmitigated disaster.

Thanks, CFL. Good job.

P.S. I have added the Tiger-Cats' 2011 schedule to the side bar.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cats Dip in Again

According to Drew Edwards (via Arash Madani), the Cats have added another Running Back, this time from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Sadly, at least in my opinion, it is not Yvenson Bernard. It is Daryl Stephenson.

Stephenson is a Canadian and former Hec Creighton award winner when he played at the University of Windsor, where he also set the record for the most rushing yards in CIS history.

Signing Stephenson provides some good Canadian depth to the Cats backfield. He's a big guy (6'2", 228 lbs.), so I could see him playing Fullback for the Tabbies.

The Cats have been busy early on in free agency. This is the third signing – fifth if you count the Rey Williams and Wayne Smith signings, which still are not official – and Obie said he isn't done yet. Could be another busy day in Tigertown.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Talk About a Busy Day

Wow, go to work for a few hours and the Cats explode with player acquisitions.

The first place to start is with the signing of Running Back Avon Cobourne. Wow! That's all I can really say about that. Not only is Cobourne an excellent player, but taking him deals a blow to the Montreal Alouettes. He was probably the top player available, and the Cats grabbed him. Wow!

The Cobourne signing means that the Tiger-Cat career of DeAndra' Cobb is over. Cobb was good for the Tiger-Cats, but Cobourne is a significant upgrade.

The Cats also signed Defensive Back Daniel Francis, formerly of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. With the Cats having whiffed re-signing Geoff Tisdale (who went to Calgary), and on signing Dwight Anderson (who went to Montreal), Lin-J Shell (who re-upped with the Argos) and Jonathan Hefney (who re-upped with the Bombers). It sucks that the Cats could not land or keep one of the elite-level players, but perhaps Francis is the right fit for the Tabbies. I'm not overly excited about this signing, but I'm not upset with it either.

According to Drew Edwards, the Cats have also reached agreements with two other former Roughriders, Offensive Lineman Wayne Smith and Linebacker Rey Williams. Smith is a former Tiger-Cat and Williams is a very nice Linebacker. Sadly, the signing of Williams might spell the end of the line for one of my personal favourite Tiger-Cats, Otis Floyd. I hope that is not the case, but Williams is five years younger, and as Obie always says, "Better is better."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Free Agency Thoughts

On the eve of free agency opening in the CFL, I thought I'd give a couple of thoughts on what might help the Cats field a better team in 2011. There are a couple of areas that the Cats need to focus on in order to improve on back-to-back 9-9 seasons with first-round playoff exits.

The Secondary still needs to be upgraded, and the Cats could go in many directions in regards to that. For one, they should try their darnedest to retain Geoff Tisdale. If that does not happen (or even if it does) the Cats should look at both Dwight Anderson and Jonathan Hefney. They cannot not sign both of them (nor do they need to), but I would like to see one of them in Black & Gold in 2011.

Toronto's Kevin Huntley should be pursued as well. With the loss of Garrett McIntyre to the New York Jets, getting Huntley would help immensely.

I would also like to see the Cats try and retain all of their own pending free agents. George Hudson could provide good depth (but I suspect he won't be brought back); ditto Brian Ramsey; Jermaine Reid really looks to be coming into his own, and having Canadian depth on the Defensive Line is also a good thing; and Adam Nicolson and Steve Schmidt never really had a chance to showcase themselves in 2010 because of injury. I'd really like to see what both could do when fully healthy.

A couple of other players that the Cats might kick the tires of that could help are Running Backs Avon Cobourne and Yvenson Bernard, Receiver Kelly Campbell and Offensive Lineman Ben Archibald. I would be surprised if any of them landed in Hamilton, but all of them would be welcome additions. Out of the four, I especially like Bernard because he could provide decent competition for DeAndra' Cobb and probably not be too cost prohibitive.

So those are my pre-free agency thoughts. The fun begins at 12:01AM EST tomorrow. Let the games begin.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Do It

Rumours are flying left and right that the Tiger-Cats are kicking the tires of the BC Lions about veteran Kicker Paul McCallum. The name being bandied about on Hamilton's end is Receiver Marquay McDaniel.

Tiger-Cat General Manager Bob O'Billovich has already said that the team will not be acquiring McCallum. What he does not say is that he did not offer McDaniel for McCallum.

Far be it for me, a lowly blogger, to tell Obie what to do, but how on Earth does anyone think it is wise to trade a Receiver for a Kicker? This is the same guy who wouldn't (or maybe couldn't, to be fair) trade up in the 2010 CFL Draft to pick last year's leading scorer, Kicker Rob Maver. Why, a year later, would he consider trading a 26-year-old who finished two yards shy of 1,000 in 2010 for a 41-year-old kicker who is, at best, a stop-gap solution?

I know we were all disappointed in the season that Sandro DeAngelis had in 2010, but let's not get stupid and do something rash just for change's sake.

I hope Obie is telling the truth, and McCallum is not on his way to Hamilton. Don't get me wrong, I think Paul McCallum is a heck of a player, but he is not worth Marquay McDaniel.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hall of Fame Adds Seven

The CFL announced the 2011 Canadian Football Hall of Fame class, which will include Danny McManus, Joe Montford, Terry Vaughn, Chris Flynn and Ken Lehmann in the player category, and Gino Fracas and Don Matthews in the builder category.

When I read on Wednesday that the Hall of Fame announcement would be made this week, my first thought was, "Is this the year Danny Mac gets the call? What about Joe Montford?"

I'm not entirely sure what the process is for inductees into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (such as length of time, post-retirement, before someone is eligible), but I figured that McManus and Montford were due to be inducted soon.

Danny Mac is probably my favourite Ti-Cat of all time. In fact, I named him as the greatest Tiger-Cat of my lifetime (roughly 30 years) about a year ago. I stand by that opinion. I gave the #3 spot to Joe Montford, so to say that I hold both of these gentlemen in high regard would be an understatement.

Congratulations to all seven men, but especially to two of the greatest living Tiger-Cats I ever had the privilege of watching play.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Year Later...

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of Blogskee Wee Wee.

A lot has happened in one year. I've been called an idiot more times than I can count, especially by Anonymous. (Man, does he/she not like me.)

I've been praised for some of my opinions, sometimes by Anonymous. (Man, does he/she like me.)

Most of all, I've just had a fun time doing this. I enjoy writing, I enjoy football, and I LOVE the Tiger-Cats, so this is just me putting those three things together.

For the people who have been here since the beginning, and you know who you are, I thank you. Your support has been, and continues to be, much appreciated.

For the people who have come on board throughout the past year, I thank you as well. Most of you are strangers to me, and I appreciate that you would take some time out of your day to read the ramblings of a simple fan.

I would like to give specific thanks to one person. During the past year I have been lucky enough to have one of my best friends edit my work to ensure proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. She has also been responsible for the photos taken during games and other events that I have posted. So Emily, for all the work you have put in that goes virtually unnoticed, I thank you.

I have some big plans for 2011 that I will share when the time is right. I hope to make 2011 even better than 2010. Hopefully the Cats play along as well, and we can all end 2011 by celebrating a Grey Cup championship.

For those that have yet to read it, here is my first post, which went online exactly 365 days ago. Not exactly what I would call award-winning writing, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two New Coaches and TD Atlantic II

A couple pieces of news today as the Ti-Cats have rounded out their coaching staff, and it looks like they're headed to the East coast for a matchup with the Stamps.

First, the Tiger-Cats have hired two coaches: Rick Worman and Doug Malone. Worman will replace Mike Gibson as the team's Running Backs Coach (Gibson was also the Offensive Coordinator, a role that now belongs to Khari Jones) and Malone will replace Steve Buratto as Offensive Line Coach.

Worman brings a wealth of CFL knowledge, having served in multiple capacities with multiple teams, most notably as an Offensive Coordinator, most recently with the Edmonton Eskimos. Malone has over 30 years of experience, but none in the CFL.

The key for both of these gentlemen is to get the running game going, which was a weak spot, offensively, for the Cats in 2010. DeAndra' Cobb did not have the best of seasons (yes, he finished with decent stats, but anyone who actually watched the games knows he did not have a good year), and the O-Line seemed as if it was unaware of how to run block. If the running game can be fixed in 2011, the Cats' Offense will be downright lethal.

Secondly, it looks like the Tabbies will be "hosting" the Calgary Stampeders in Moncton in September.

The source article cites that "the [Tiger-Cats'] general manager let it slip during a radio interview earlier this year" that Hamilton would be the home team. I do not recall ever hearing this interview or hearing about this interview. If anyone of my loyal (or not-so-loyal) readers could please point me in the direction of this interview (or at least confirm it exists) I would be grateful.

Also, as was pointed out by one of my Twitter followers, the fact that the Cats will lose all nine home games in 2012 (with one or two possibly being played in Moncton), means that it is somewhat unfair to the fan base to lose one in 2011 as well. I do not have a problem with Hamilton playing in Moncton in 2011, but it should have been a home game for the Stamps, not the Cats. Since we are going to be deprived of an entire season's worth of games in 2012, we should at least have been given a full slate of games in 2011.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bauman off to Edmonton

Almost everyone thought he was heading somewhere west, and when all was said and done, Chris Bauman signed with the Edmonton Eskimo.

No surprise there. Eric Tillman loves to stock up on Canadian talent, and Bauman's birth certificate fits that criterion.

What is astounding is the rumoured contract he signed: three years, $375,000. That's $125,000 per year. That's the type of money being given to guys who catch, on average, 28.5 passes per year? Seriously?

I see now why the Cats let him walk.

No way is Bauman worth that kind of money. He is clearly being paid on potential, because he has not produced at the level that would justify a six-figure income. The Cats made a wise choice in letting him leave.

Friday, February 4, 2011

McIntyre Motors to the Jets

This would have been a better headline had he signed with the Lions (think about it), but that did not happen. What did happen is fan favourite Garrett McIntyre signed with the New York Jets.

McIntyre became a hugely popular player in 2010 based on his stellar play and never-ending hustle, which earned him the nickname "Motor."

McIntyre played two seasons with the Tiger-Cats and posted 51 tackles and nine sacks. He had 32 of those tackles and eight of those sacks in 2010.

I wish McIntyre the best of luck in the NFL with the Jets, but I would be lying if I said I did not want to see him back in Black & Gold soon.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good-bye Gauthier, Bye-Bye Bauman

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have parted ways with two veteran players: Receiver Chris Bauman and Offensive Lineman Alex Gauthier. Both were scheduled to become free agents on February 16th.

I honestly do not understand the point of releasing two would-be free agents a mere two weeks before they were probably on their way out the door anyway. Seems like an odd move.

There was some clamouring among the fan base for the team to move Heaven and Earth to re-sign Bauman. He had one helluva month to end the season in 2010, and it looks like he may have turned a corner. Of course, it's entirely possible that he just caught lightning in a bottle and will go back to being the unreliable player he was during most of his tenure in Hamilton.

Gauthier might just be the age factor, or as Drew Edwards states, the Cats may go with two Americans on the Offensive Line instead of the one they went with in 2010.

I'm not too upset about either player leaving town. Matt Carter seems like he could fill in fine for Bauman, and if the Cats are going with two Import O-Linemen, Belton Johnson looked very good when Jason Jimenez was injured last season.

To be perfectly honest, I think the loss of both will be unnoticeable.