Why so soon? Chris Jones extension premature for Riders

I’m thinking of writing a CFL movie about the 2018 season.

Fade in….. We are in the boardroom of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the General Manager stands in front of a long table of board members. He is dressed in all black from head to toe and is inexplicably wearing sunglasses inside.

GM: Hey y’all, I’m gonna need another year on my contract.

Board: Why is that?

GM: Well, my contract expires after this season, and I know I am the highest paid guy in the league at what I do, so I think I’m gonna stay here a little longer.

Board: Your record as a head coach and GM is 15-23 and you haven’t placed better than fourth in your division despite having almost an entire second roster to choose from last year. Not to mention that you have led the league in fines….

GM: I know

The head of the board pauses for a moment, then stands.

Board: Let me get my checkbook.

Of course that could only happen in the movies, right? Wrong. The architect of the West Division’s second worst record this season has been rewarded with an extra year on his contract.

Those who know me well know I have no issue with taking the Roughriders to task over almost any issue, but as an outsider to the situation, this one truly astounds me.

Why now? That’s the sticking point for me. I also know the first comments that will hit below so let me address those now.

“But Ryan, how can you sign free agents if you are a lame duck GM and Coach?” There are two answers to this. First, you sell the player on the team and emphasize that winning is just as important to you because without wins, you won’t get an extension. Second, no job is guaranteed anyway, ask any coach who has signed in Montreal since 2013. Lose and you will get fired, extension or not.

“We won 5 more games this year than last year” And? Still wasn’t good enough to host a playoff game, let alone get into the Grey Cup. There are (misguided) people in Calgary calling for the heads of John Hufnagel and Dave Dickenson because the Stamps have lost back-to-back Grey Cups. Saskatchewan should hold itself to a better standard than 10-8. Yet, one game above mediocrity is rewarded with three quarters of a million dollars or more.

There were rumblings last year after a 2-4 start that Jones was in danger of losing his job. A dominant performance against the then West Division leading BC Lions changed the narrative. All of a sudden there was hope in Riderville that the team had turned it around. Then they beat an injury ravaged Eskimos team, and won on Labour Day and the parade on Piffles was planned.

The rest of the way they went 1-3 against teams that finished above the .500 mark.

Not exactly a glowing record. Especially when you consider that the one victory came against a Calgary squad that was one point away from clinching the division with 3 games left and had shifted into injury prevention and playbook protection mode.

So again, it begs the question, why now? It is possible that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are afraid of letting Jones hit the open market. There are no attractive coaching positions this year, but Jones has shown in the past a willingness to move on. Through his coaching career he has only stayed in a place for more than four years once and his last two stops before landing in Regina lasted just two years each.

Jones also lives in a hotel while in Regina and his family is home in Tennessee. I know he is only there to win football games, but if you dated someone for a little more than two years without meeting their family, you might question their commitment to the relationship.

So now, the board put a promise ring around their sweethearts finger and are hoping that the relationship will continue chugging along towards something long term. But, if the Riders stumble out of the gate, that ring could end up being $750,000 flushed down the tubes while Jones couch surfs.


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