An official protest

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

We've been saying for years the weakest link in the CFL chain is its officiating and it seems like every week there's more fuel for that argument.

Despite efforts to sink more money into recruitment and training, it still lags behind the level of play on the field and is keeping head coaches awake at night.

Even instant replay, which has been advocated the last couple of seasons on these pages, has failed to live up to expectations.

Every team has its own officiating horror stories and now the Montreal Alouettes have come forward with official complaints about the men in stripes, specifically about the way referee Glen Johnson's crew loused up a recent game in Regina.

Calls were reviewed on two plays -- an apparent fumble by Roughriders running back Shermar Bracey and a reception by Saskatchewan's Matt Dominguez -- and both calls after video reviews appeared wrong.

The Calgary Stampeders also were livid two weeks ago when an apparent catch by Ron Johnson late in a game in Toronto was deemed incomplete.

While the league has taken measures to improve officiating, it needs to make greater strides in this area.

It's certainly a more urgent concern than allegations of drug use, as pushed last week by Dick Pound.

WHERE'S THE BEEF?:

TSN's Friday Night Football has been one of the CFL's strongest additions in many years and we certainly appreciate the need to recognize loyal sponsors.

FNF is obviously enamoured with a burger chain whose name is all over the show but they still need to know when to stop piling on the cheese!

The field-goal contest at halftime of the 'Riders/Argos clash where one lucky fan was given an opportunity to win $1-million certainly was compelling but distracted from the network's typically first-rate work.

How many times do we need to see the neophyte placekicker, all decked out in the burger chain's jersey, nervously twitching on the sidelines?

Do we need to know what he's thinking before and after the kick?

How about chatting with last year's winner?

Geez, the network even added the failed field-goal attempt to its post-game SportsCentre highlights package, giving viewers an added case of heartburn.

If the lucky bloke wins the money, it's a great highlight. But if he misses by a mile, move on to more important clips.

RUSH TO JUDGMENT:

Winnipeg Blue Bombers back Charles Roberts has reclaimed the CFL rushing race for the second consecutive season but he isn't everyone's first choice at tailback.

The six-year Bomber won the rushing crown in 2003 and '05 and pushed his way past Calgary's Joffrey Reynolds with a 151-yard night against Reynolds' own Stampeders Saturday.

Yet, when asked at a recent Stampeders game whom he'd rather have -- Roberts or Reynolds -- an NFL scout raised eyebrows when he said his first choice for a CFL leather lugger would be Saskatchewan's Kenton Keith, even with his baggage.

BUCK BACKUP:

The sensational play of B.C. Lions backup Buck Pierce this fall, including a pair of games against Calgary, triggered some murmuring about a new quarterback controversy in Lotusland but that should be dying down now.

Undisputed No. 1 man Dave Dickenson's return from post-concussion syndrome Saturday night in a comeback win over Hamilton proved he's still the Lions' main man when they host the West final Nov. 12.

Down 10-3 at the half, Dickenson entered the game to post 20 points in the third quarter to step on the necks of the visiting Ticats.

Dickenson even took a heavy pop from Hamilton's Anthony Collier and sprung back to his feet, a relief for both the quarterback and Lions management.

EXTRA POINTS:

Call us suspicious but didn't Khari Jones' rave review on CBC Saturday afternoon of Matt Dunigan's potential as an offensive co-ordinator make it sound like the former Stamps QB would like a backup role in Edmonton if Dunigan lands the OC job in the off-season? ... If Ron Lancaster, 68, is indeed done as a CFL coach/GM/ administrator, here's hoping he winds up on TV. He's still the best colour commentator the CFL has seen and would certainly be a fine addition to CBC or TSN ... Balloting for CFL player of the year awards began recently and it looks like K Sandro DeAngelis is the only Stampeders player with an inside track at getting his hands on some hardware ... General admission tickets for the Nov. 5 West semifinal will be available beginning today at all Calgary Safeway and Sport Chek locations while quantities last. The Stamps expect a sellout of 35,650 at McMahon Stadium for the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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QUOTABLE

"You don't have to have the most yards to be considered the best back." Stamps running back Joffrey Reynolds

GO FIGURE

23

Number of TD passes thrown by Stamps QB Henry Burris, who leads the CFL.


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