|For Rider fans, there wasn't much to cheer about last month Photo courtesy of www.riderville.com
August was not a favourable month for the Saskatchewan Roughriders and its fans
To paraphrase Morgan Freeman in that shitty VISA commercial from a couple years back, “Sports love hurts.”
Investing valuable time, money and passion into a sports franchise only to see your team fall short of winning the big one year after year is borderline masochistic. Do we, the fans, endure the crushing sting of defeat? Or is it all about the pursuit of the prize?
Living in Saskatchewan, I’ve grown used to the punishment.
The real abuse started shortly after we renewed our vows with the team back in 2007 after we came away with a Grey Cup championship. The wedding between the team and it’s fans was nothing short of perfect – good drinks, good friends, and a massive, three-tiered green and white cake – as far as I remember anyways, I was pretty drunk.
Anyways, since that great wedding, everything has started to fall apart. Two last-minute Grey Cup losses and a bottom-of-the-barrel finish later, and this relationship is damn near on the rocks.
That brings us to this season. What started out as the most promising signs of life in years – a young, passionate head coach, Corey Chamblin, leading the Riders to a 3-0 start – has quickly collapsed into another round of drunk, angry callers who throw the blame around on 620 CKRM’s Roughrider roundtable following every game.
The easiest target to point the finger at is, of course, Roughrider quarterback Darian Durant.
After a flawless three-game start to the season, Durrant has since thrown the ball away eight times and can’t seem to find a receiver to save his life.
Game after game he gets sacked mercilessly – thanks, O-line – and bears the brunt of the Saskatchewan commentariat as well.
"So, die-hards, take a deep breath and put down the phone. There is still time to right this reeling ship. And yeah, sports love hurts, but the punishment endured only makes the eventual triumph that much sweeter."
But I still believe in ole’ Double D.
To me, Durant been as solid a quarterback as you could ask for in his three-and-a-half years starting in Saskatchewan.
Year after year, he’s given us a shot to win – well except for maybe last year, when his passing yards and TD’s dipped below 4,000 and 20 for the first time, respectively.
But here’s the thing – football is, first and foremost, a team game. If those receivers aren’t open, or are prematurely eyeing the endzone (looking at you, Weston Dressler), or injured , the Riders won’t win. The same goes for a solid O-line and a rock solid defence. To win, you need them all.
And if not Durant, then who? Is backup quarterback Drew Willy going to lead us back to the promised land? Probably not.
With that argument, the drunken ramblings of the angry Roughrider “faithful” take new aim – the head coach.
No, I don’t think Chamblin should be fired. From what I can see the guy is a young, passionate and knowledgeable coach. The losing cannot be pinned on him. He’s doing the best he can with what he’s got, and aside from one or two questionable calls I feel he has been a great coach.
Stringing together a couple wins will almost certainly re-ignite the fire under this fledgling team, and that should make it easier for Chamblin to rally the troops once again.
Last year’s mid-season sacking of former head coach Greg Marshall looked like a godsend after a short-lived string of victories, until it all came crashing back to earth with a league-worst record of 5-13.
So, die-hards, take a deep breath and put down the phone. There is still time to right this reeling ship.
And yeah, sports love hurts, but the punishment endured only makes the eventual triumph that much sweeter.