Friesen's fearless look at the CFL semis
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
|Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel walks on the field during practice at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Aug. 7, 2012. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - They tell us itís the 100th edition of the Grey Cup playoffs kicking off this weekend.
So why does it feel like the 100th time the Blue Bombers arenít in?
Canadian footballís longest championship drought wonít end this year, meaning an entire generation (22 years) has now graduated from high school and earned university degrees since the last time Winnipeg got up close and personal with a football championship.
But since the pratfalls of the Big Blue have been well documented in this space, today, under siege from the Big Storm, weíre not even going to mention them again.
Instead, weíll turn our attention elsewhere, to places where they actually know a thing or two about fielding winners.
And to Toronto, too, of course. Because thatís where itís all about on the last Sunday of the month.
Hereís a snowbound look at the CFL playoffs, with some predictions thrown in for good measure.
Itís the Riders at the Stamps, a familiar western tune at this time of year.
The big story at this barn dance is Calgary head honcho John Hufnagelís decision to go with young gunslinger Drew Tate instead of wily veteran Kevin Glenn at the pivotal position.
Youíve heard the old adage of dancing with the gal that brung you?
Hufnagel didnít even get to the barn door before handing her off to a local hillbilly and grabbing the arm of the purty, long-haired thing who began making eyes at him last fall.
Young and attractive, Tate and the Stamps certainly look like a match made in pigskin heaven. But looks can be deceiving.
Glenn, of course, has been down this road before, discarded by one suitor after another over his career.
In 11 years, heís never worn the gold ring, never even taken part in the last dance, his one chance ruined by a snapped humerus adorned in those unmentionable colours.
Looking across at the Riders, he may be reminded of that old fling, the crusty Brendan Taman in the GMís chair one of the few people whoís been around as long as he has and never won anything.
Prediction: We havenít seen the last of Glenn this season.
Sometimes things happen that make you convinced there is a god ó and that heís a big football fan.
How else do you explain the Eskimos crossing over to play the Argos in the East semi?
When Edmonton GM Eric Tillman traded quarterback Ricky Ray to Toronto last December, it was generally thought Tillman had lost his marbles.
The suggestion ó made by Tillman himself ó that he was simply smarter than everybody else was proven wrong from July through October, as Ray began doing his thing for the Argos and the Edmonton offence made that one in the province east of Saskatchewan look good.
Of course, thereís nothing like a win-or-go-home showdown to end the argument, once and for all.
The only thing missing is Tillman, who annoyed his way out of the GMís chair before the season was up.
Talk that he may wind up in charge of the Argos ó or even planned to move East all along, hence his trading of Ray ó seem a little far-fetched.
If that happens, then he will have been right: he is that much smarter than the rest of us.
Prediction: We donít see Tillman at the helm of a CFL team for a long time, if ever again.
There you have it, two games worth the price of admission. So put down your snow shovels long enough to take in what promises to be great theatre.
It is, after all, the best time of year to be a three-down football fan.
Unless you live in you-know-where.