Cracked crystal ball

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

We're getting close to the halfway point of the local pig throwing season, and very little about the three-down game has worked out the way yours truly envisioned it.

So it's time to eat some CFL crow, and tip a glass to the coaches and players who, once again, are proving that just because you give a guy a laptop and a page in the paper doesn't mean he's an expert.

Today's appetizer comes courtesy of rookie Montreal boss Marc Trestman, a man I thought was way out of his league, or at least in the wrong one.

With oodles of NFL experience but none north of the 49th, Trestman appeared to be Alouettes president Larry Smith's dumbest move since he led expansion into the U.S. as CFL commissioner, more than a decade ago.

This once-proud franchise was beginning to swirl -- the way things do before going down the toilet.

How wrong I was.

Trestman has not only picked up the Canadian game, he's excelling at it, learning quickly how to use an all-purpose back like Avon Cobourne. He's also helped rejuvenate quarterback Anthony Calvillo, installing a new offence the cagey vet seems perfectly suited for.

Montreal leads the loop in points per game and total offence, is 5-0 playing the East and leads the division.

Good job, rookie.

Our main course today is a western dish, cooked up in Alberta, where cooked crow may not be as popular as beef, but where Edmonton Eskimos football boss Danny Maciocia has prepared quite a spread.

Maciocia was the one who was supposed to have a fork in him by now, or at least soon after Labour Day. Two non-playoff seasons in a row had him on borrowed time.

Lo and behold, the Green and Gold were a respectable 4-3 going into last night's game with Saskatchewan, tied for second in the West. And instead of splitting like a cheap piece of lumber, the team appears to be galvanizing.

Mutiny? Hardly. Listen closely and you might hear the strains of Kumbaya coming out of the igloo.

Our side dish today, that Green and White mixture over to our left, is a heaping helping from Saskatchewan, where the locals not only play a mean banjo, but also defend a mean Grey Cup title.

A string of injuries didn't prevent the Riders from bolting to a 6-0 start, showing far more resilience than this space gave them credit for.

When you're the defending champ, everybody guns for you, while that invisible opponent called complacency is firing bullets into your belly, too.

Toss in the trade of quarterback Kerry Joseph, 2007's most outstanding player, and the departure of head coach Kent Austin and the Riders had first-to-worst written all over them.

Somehow, GM Eric Tillman and new coach Ken Miller have pushed all the right buttons, as the Riders appear darn near bulletproof through the first half.

Tip of the farmer's cap to them.

Time for dessert, but today's dish is anything but sweet. In fact, it has kind of a blue tinge.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, picked in this space to finish first in the East with 11 or 12 wins, have gone out of their way to make me, and dang near every so-called expert in the Great White North, look like an idiot.

Of course, they're making themselves look like idiots at the same time, and souring their championship-starved fans, who rang up impressive season-ticket sales expecting redemption from last year's near-miss.

The Bombers were supposed to get back to the Grey Cup, where they'd at least have a chance to end this 17-year drought, the longest current stretch of futility in the league.

This underachieving bunch has redefined complacency, and at 2-6 would need to go 7-3 simply to turn in a .500 season. I was as wrong about these guys as I ever have been.

So congratulations, Blue and Gold.

For once, you've made me look far too positive.


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