Don's dandy way

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Don Matthews can really be a jerk.

The guy has won more games than any coach in the history of the CFL and still gets his jollies being a jerk.

The guy specializes in stunts like he pulled yesterday.

The Montreal Alouettes' equipment didn't show up on the team's flight here.

So he had to call off practice.

But instead of wheeling the bus to Commonwealth Stadium where more than two dozen media men waited, he took the team to the Westin Hotel.

This forced Eskimos' media men Dave Jamieson and Jamie Cartmell to haul everything over to the hotel and set up a room for his pre-game press conference and media availability, humiliating his media relations man Louis-Phillipe Dorais for the umpteenth time in his career.

Meanwhile, all the media had to load up their cameras and equipment and make the move to the hotel in time to beat Matthews' men from the airport to the hotel.

When The Don entered the room, doing a double-take when he saw the Eskimos back-drop had been amazingly arranged behind him in world record time, he had the audacity to apologize, saying it was all "unavoidable.''

Of course, this had nothing to do with the Eskimos punting Matthews out of here as head coach just before the start of the 2001 season.

This is the same guy who made the Als practice in Red Deer an extra time coming off a game in Calgary, thus avoiding a scheduled media availability for the Grey Cup rematch in 2003.

And, of course, there was his no-showing for the last Coach of the Year Dinner after the Eskimos won the Grey Cup that year after accepting the trophy here the year before.

At least Matthews is consistent.

That's more than you can say for his football team this year.

He comes here with a 4-4 team in danger of falling bellow .500 for the first time since 1996.

Once settled in, Matthews explained that a lack of consistency has been his team's biggest problem this year.

"My number one concern is inconsistency in the way I've been able to coach the defence,'' he said.

Offence isn't the problem, he says, despite the lack of weapons Anthony Cavillo has with his receiving corps.

"A.C. continues to play with a shuffled deck. He continues to be excellent.''

The Als head coach didn't save his raves for his own quarterback. He raved about Eskimos QB as well.

"Ricky Ray has my admiration. I've never seen a guy get hit like he's getting it. He's been hit an inordinate amount of times. He just keeps on ticking.

"We hit him 17 times in our game against him in Montreal.''

Cavillo says he's getting hit less this year than just about any quarterback in the league.

"I notice a lot of quarterbacks are taking a lot of hits this year. Both B.C. quarterbacks are taking a lot of hits. I haven't been getting hit often. I have to give a lot of credit to the way my offensive line has been playing this year. I've been able to walk away and play golf the next day.''

Ray isn't so much concerned about getting the heat off him as getting the heat off the team which started the season at 5-1.

"We're in a good situation if we win this game,'' he said of a team which would go into the Labour Day run at 6-3 and solidly in second place going into the second half of the season.

"We can't win the Grey Cup now. We want to make sure we're playing our best football at the end of the season.

"But winning this game is very important. We need to win this week to keep in striking distance of B.C.,'' he said of the 8-0 Lions.

With Ray, this one is personal.

Until losing to the Toronto Argos at Commonwealth Stadium, Ray had only lost three games at home and all three were to the Alouettes.

"Obviously, the Alouettes have been our biggest Eastern rivalry,'' he said.

"With all the Grey Cup games between the two teams, obviously that rivalry has been around for a lot of years. They've been one of the best teams in the league since I came here. I've lost some games to them here. Obviously I want to win this one.

"Last week was the first time I'd lost two games in a row as an Eskimo. I sure don't want to lose two in a row at home.''


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