EDMONTON - REGINA — At first, the Edmonton Eskimos were headed here to play the Regina Roughriders.
Now they find out they’re going against Norway, too.
It’s been known for some time that the team that turned green in 1948 and went from being the Regina Roughriders to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was going to return to its origins and wear burgundy and black to celebrate the centennial of the Riders for Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos.
But it wasn’t revealed until the day before the game that the coaches were going to come dressed as Norway.
“The players are handling it very well, a lot better than the coaches,” 68-year-old head coach Ken Miller said of the duds the team that should be defending Grey Cup champions will be decked out in to play the first of four games against the former Evil Empire.
“Our team is real good at handling distractions,” said Miller.
How good they are at that, he’ll find out when the coaches show up to work wearing the same pants as the Norwegian curlers at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
“Some time ago, I was told about wearing the uniforms with red helmets and everything and I was not that excited about it,” said Miller.
But revenge of the coaches is at hand.
“The coaches are going to wear some pretty loud pants,” said Miller. “We’re going to dress like the Norwegian curling team. It’s a fashion statement.
“There was a big fuss over those pants at the Olympics. We contacted Loud Mouth Golf out of San Francisco, who produce those pants, and they’ve outfitted our staff,” he said of the diamond “home” pants the Norwegians wore, except with colours to match the occasion.
So it’s a game about pants?
You’d think the story would be about one team starting the season on the up elevator and the other on the down elevator and what this game would mean to their seasons going forward.
There’s a lot of swing on this game.
If the Eskimos come out of here 0-3 and the Riders 3-0, a lot of spit has to happen between now and the end of the season for Edmonton to chase them down by the time the two teams meet here Nov. 6 in the last game of the regular season.
The coaches would rather talk about pants.
When asked about the Eskimos winning both games here last year, Miller said “I can’t remember that.”
He also had nothing when it came to the fact the Eskimos are 3-9 in their last 12 here against the Riders.
“We don’t talk about their record. We talk about how they have really good talent and a tremendous quarterback.”
Eskimos head coach Richie Hall wasn’t into talking about the 2-0 and 0-2 records that make the game interesting, either. Or his unbeaten record here as a coach in two trips last year.
“Last year was last year. The only thing that matters about last year is that they played in the Grey Cup game and we didn’t,” he said.
As for the pants, Hall can’t wait.
“I didn’t know about that. I’m going to get a chuckle out of it.”