Riders HC Craig Dickenson won’t look to ‘fool people’ with his depth charts, believes accurate reporting is important for the CFL

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Holding cards close to your vest has long been a point of pride among football coaches, but Craig Dickenson has no interest in playing those games anymore.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach isn’t about to hand over his playbook, but he has been among the staunchest supporters of the CFL’s new injury reporting policy. When asked about the importance of providing reliable team information to the public ahead of their game Saturday, Dickenson was frank

“We all know we’re going through some tough times right now with the pandemic and we’re trying to get back on our feet. Part of the way we do that is to make sure TSN looks good and they come across like they know what they’re talking about, which they do. We want to try to help them as much as we can and when we help them, they help us,” he admitted openly.

“We do the best we can to give them the exact depth charts. Sometimes things happen and it changes at the last minute, but I do believe it’s important to give them an accurate depth chart and be transparent on who’s playing and who’s playing where.”

That has been a point of some controversy over the last two weeks, as accusations of intentional deception have been leveled at the B.C. Lions. With Michael Reilly facing elbow soreness, the team has switched their starting quarterback during the pre-game warmup in consecutive weeks.

In Week 1, Reilly was the listed starter until he tapped out prior to the national anthem, while Canadian Nathan Rourke got the official call in Week 2 only to be benched pre-game for a healthier looking Reilly. Both incidents were dubbed game time decisions, but some voices around the league have questioned the validity of that statement.

Both Reilly and Lions head coach Rick Campbell have claimed they are being as clear as possible, with the quarterback telling those upset to “get over it because injuries happen,” but the situation has looked bad optically while the league tries to attract new gambler to provide a financial life raft.

Dickenson avoided speaking directly on the Lions’ situation, but would say he’s seen plenty of roster funny business in almost two decades north of the border. That has to change.

“We’ve seen it a lot and we won’t name any names, but everybody’s either seen it or done it themselves,” Dickenson said. “These are new rules we’re playing by and we all agreed to it. That was the one thing, we all agreed to this in the offseason that we’re going to be more transparent. We’re not going to try to fool people with who we’re dressing.”

The league is demanding a new level of transparency for it’s own good and Dickenson is insisting that the Roughriders will lead the way in that regard.

“It’s up to us to make sure we do what we said we were going to do and we’ll give them accurate and up-to-date depth charts.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.