A season of bad jokes in Saskatchewan

Cory Chamblin

Saskatchewan Roughriders fans have been called “Owen” through the bye week, as in “oh-and-seven.” And they’ve heard all the other bad jokes about their winless football team:

“I set my PVR to record ‘The Biggest Loser’ and all it keeps getting are Saskatchewan Roughriders games!”

“Mosaic Stadium will be the new tornado shelter for Regina because chances of a touchdown there are most unlikely.”

“How does a Rider fan count to 10? Oh-and-one, oh-and-two, oh-and-three….”

“The Roughriders were 3.5-point favourites this week against the bye.’’

They’re not laughing. The community-owned football team is serious business inside Saskatchewan.

Nowhere in Canada is a football team’s fortunes more closely scrutinized, so that joke about the tornado shelter? Rider fans know it’s malarkey because the team’s offence has scored touchdowns. Many of the Riders problems come from a defence that surrenders big plays, applies little pressure on opposing quarterbacks and has forced only two measly turnovers all season!

Despite losing starting quarterback Darian Durant for the season with a torn Achilles tendon and capable, veteran backup Kevin Glenn with a torn pectoral muscle, the offence has resumed scoring under rookie Brett Smith, whose two starts have shown him to be courageous, capable of throwing on the run, and getting calmer under pressure.

The Roughriders players and coaches dispersed following last week’s 30-26 loss to the Toronto Argonauts, but they resume practising this week in preparation for their game Saturday against the visiting Calgary Stampeders.

The most loyal supporters insist everyone has to continue supporting the Roughriders, which is a good idea because the team needs to sell tickets and merchandise while raising its $40 million share of the new stadium being built for 2017.

The doomsayers are screaming for the firings of head coach Corey Chamblin and general manager Brendan Taman. Amid reports that might happen during the bye week, the Roughriders stated they still have confidence in Chamblin and Taman. Based on their 2013 Grey Cup victory, Taman insists they deserve a chance to turn around the Roughriders ship.

He’s correct.

The realists understand that wholesale, midseason firings are rarely the answer for a struggling team. With an 0-7 record the Roughriders’ chances of making the playoffs are almost non-existent, so when they resume practising the team needs to find out how many Brett Smiths it has on the roster.

Keep those guys, dump the underachievers, and forge ahead to 2016. If Rider fans are still being called “Owen” three or four games into next season, stop telling jokes because the axe will be out. And that’s never funny.

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.