What were CFL oddsmakers smoking this week, eh?
How could they possibly have the Renegades favoured by 21/2 points tonight against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats? Did they stop watching the games two months ago? How can they favour Ottawa against anybody taller than 5-feet these days?
The Ticats are a CFL basement-dwelling 3-10 and holding tryouts for next season, but they did wallop an unsuspecting Edmonton Eskimos team 40-14 last week.
They have some pride.
Do the Renegades? Not nearly enough, obviously. They haven't beaten anyone but themselves in six games, or 57 days, if you prefer. They have released their hold on a playoff spot like it was a white-hot barbecue briquette. And it became clear some time ago that they couldn't stand the heat in the kitchen.
The bookies are taking Ottawa's home-field advantage into consideration? Yeah, that's a real plus. The Renegades have lost their last three at home by a combined score of 143-71, and two of those games were against the worst teams in the West. Their logo has become a welcome mat for everyone to wipe their feet on.
"Ain't nobody gonna disrespect us in our house," sounds good but means nothing coming from residents of the largest building on Bank St.
The crowd support factor? Good one. Attendance has slipped below 20,000 for five games in the entire CFL this season. That's right, all of them here. And if the weather forecast is correct, fans will have to bring their rain gear to the stadium for the fifth time in six home dates. That should keep the numbers embarrassingly low once again.
Don't blame it all on the team's ineptitude, either. The sports folk in this village were just as negligent in their duties when the Renegades were above .500.
"This is ridiculous," centre-turned-tackle George Hudson said after yesterday's walk-through, when asked for the hundredth time to explain his club's slide. "We're so much better than we've played the last six weeks. We just have to come out and try hard (tonight). We have to win one for the coach. We have to put it together for him."
Yeah, the coach. Poor man. Good man. Football smart, hard working, dedicated, loyal.
But I'm still not buying that garbage about the Gliebermans and Forrest Gregg wanting the team to lose, so they can easily replace him with their own man next year. Not for a second. I will not believe they could be so careless with a fragile franchise.
I can not imagine they already have visiting U.S. scouting director John Jenkins pegged for his position. I can't fathom there's a plan in place to bring back Eric Tillman and Dave Ritchie as the new GM and coach, respectively.
I know they truly like Joe Paopao. But I can't understand why they're not helping him more, either.
They should have brought in another middle linebacker when Keaton Cromartie was lost for the season. They should have brought in more receivers to audition for work. They should have found some damn offensive linemen.
There's not about 500 qualified 300 pounders out of work south of the border?
Never mind that, though. Former all-star tackle Dave Hack -- a non-import -- is sitting at home after refusing a spot on the IR from the Ticats last week. He is willing, able and interested in joining the Renegades, and insiders say the coaching staff wants him.
Why upper management hasn't sent a limo for him by now is almost mind-boggling. Please let there be more to it than his salary.
Anyway, all the excuses are tired and old. And the word "distraction" should not even be in the vocabulary of a pro. There's enough talent on the Renegades to beat the Ticats tonight, and again in two weeks. There's enough here for them to still finish with eight wins, for them to secure a large chunk of money for Paopao, who automatically gets the option year of his contract picked up if the team hits that target.
It's still possible they could get themselves in a playoff position and keep their fingers crossed for help -- yet nobody believes for a moment that it's about to happen.
PLAYED FOR 1-17 TICATS
"We need a win and we want a win," began linebacker Jason Kralt. "I'd like to say in the past six games we've come to play, but it's been hit and miss."
"I've seen worse," said guard Pascal Cheron, who played for the 1-17 Ticats a couple of years ago. "And nobody quit then.
"I don't think anybody is going to leave the boat until the season is over. It's about being professional."
Don't bother to bet there's enough of those on the Renegades. No matter what odds you get.