Since being hired to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders football operations department, Chris Jones has made one thing abundantly clear: he’s willing to do just about anything in the name of winning football games.
Some of those decisions weren’t popular, such as releasing fan favourites who may have been past their prime, but are finally paying dividends. Ahead of this season, the Riders look to have quality depth for the first time in a number of years after getting the cap in order.
Doing whatever it takes to win comes at a cost though. Jones has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar more than once in just over a year on the job, most recently for practicing with suspended players and meeting with Johnny Manziel’s publicist. Manziel is of course on the Ticats neg list, so that’s a no-no.
Jones’ actions have cost the Riders more than $100,000 in fines over the last 12 months. That’s not a huge sum of money for a team like the Riders, who have plenty of coin, but’s likely getting a little old for team president Craig Reynolds. Neither Jones or Reynolds have commented on the latest fine, beyond a brief canned statement sent out in a press release, but defending the Jones’ approach is getting more difficult as the infractions pile up.
This year could go a long way in determining Jones’ future in the province. If Jones is a man who will do what it takes to win, now it’s time to actually start winning some football games. As long as that happens, Jones, who has one year left on his contract after this year, will likely be rewarded with some kind of extension. Following the letter of the law will probably help his cause too.
If the wins don’t come, then the ball is in Reynolds’ court.
As the Riders get ready to open a new stadium, there has to be plenty of pressure on Reynolds and the rest of the organization to win games and get the fan base excited. We’ve seen teams in this league and others, move into new buildings and fall flat on their face because the product on the field didn’t back up the new surroundings. You can argue that Winnipeg is still trying to dig out of that hole in their community and the Argos did themselves no favours this year at BMO. That’s not to say the team will go into financial distress if they fail to make the playoffs once again, but there’s a real chance they might not be able to take full advantage of all of the new revenue streams at new Mosaic Stadium as the fans get fed up with losing and you can bet that matters.
Winning solves a lot of problems – especially if it’s all that matters.