There was a time I thought the Roughriders would never make the playoffs.
It began in 1999, my first season as voice of the Riders, and continued through the 2001 season, a period of three years. The franchise seemed doomed and going back to 1998, the team missed the playoff for four straight years. That seemed like an eternity, so I can imagine the 11-year streak the franchise endured up until 1988.
Fast forward to now, and I never thought the franchise would MISS the playoffs! Their current streak of reaching the post-season has gone on for nine seasons. Only the B.C. Lions' streak is longer (dating back to 1996). But "the streak" is in serious jeopardy now.
It appears the only chance our beloved Green & White has at making the playoffs in 2011 is via the crossover berth, which means they have to finish with a better record than Hamilton and thus would finish third in the East. It's not the most-desired way to extend their season, but we'll take it. B.C. has done it twice in their league-leading long stretch.
Sadly it also appears that no matter how this playoff thing turns out, the franchise's streak of having no losing seasons since 2002 is in serious jeopardy.
So why am I pointing this out? Because it appears things have been allowed to slide. They're not just starting to, because they have been for a while, but no one noticed.
The question is, who or what is the culprit? I can sit here and make an argument for what a great job each and every key figure in the organization has done:
President Jim Hopson - He's taken the team from $3-million in debt to $30-million in the bank plus he's guided the franchise through seriously troubled waters (see the Roy Shivers firing, the Trevis Smith saga and the Eric Tillman situation). He, as it stands, is untouchable. Plus he just signed a three-year extension.
V.P. of Football Ken Miller - He's coached for three full seasons and has been a Coach of the Year finalist all three times. Clearly the players won't play for anyone else. So he's not going anywhere.
G.M. Brendan Taman - Fire Taman? Why?? From the sounds of things, he has no real authority since he didn't hire Greg Marshall nor did he fire him. His job solely, it seems, is to find and acquire players. That includes Brandon West, Nick Graham, Tristin Jackson, Cary Koch, Dan Goodspeed, Brent Hawkins, et al. What about Canadian talent? You only have to look as far as Craig Butler, Chris Milo and Shomari Williams. Taman has had stellar drafts.
BUT - as a wise man said, it doesn't appear to be working. If this team makes the playoffs then the stunted record may be shrugged off as "one of those years." It'll likely be pegged on Greg Marshall. But if this team misses, something I thought COULDN'T happen, then changes will have to be made.
But it's too early to examine that now.
(Rod Pedersen is the voice of the Riders on CKRM radio)