All right, Rider-Radio realizes how American it is to bestow a moniker like “Canada’s Team” on the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. If such an entity as “Canada’s Team exists in professional sports, the only franchises in the running for the title are the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronot Raptors, sole Canada-based sides in US-dominated leagues. The truth is that each major Canadian city and/or province has its football team, and the country’s CFL allegiances is generally spread among fans – except for that well-traveled Riders fanbase
Roughriders merchandise is said to represent 50% of all such CFL-related sales and, lean times or no (and the Riders have seen plenty of lean times in the club’s century-plus), the disproportionately huge stadium consistently draws the biggest crowds in the league. Despite a not-so-glorious history – the Riders have won just four Grey Cups, better only than the expansion Ottawa Redblacks – the Riders enjoy a New York Yankees- or Manchester United-level status in the hearts of its many supporters.
A brief history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders
The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ establishment as the Regina Rugby Club (!) in 1910 would ultimately make this club the world’s third-oldest continuously running gridiron football franchise; only the Toronto Argonauts Football Club (founded in 1873) and the Morgan Athletic Club/Racine Normals/Racine Street/Chicago/St. Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals (1898).
In 1923, after winning the Western Canada Rugby Football Union (WCRFU) for the eighth time, the Regina Rugby Club was given a bye into the Grey Cup final. In this 11th Grey Cup, the Riders faced off against the defending champion Queen’s University (!!) side and took a 54-0 pounding in a result that stands as the most lopsided Grey Cup victory some 95 years later. The Rugby Club was officially rechristened the Regina Roughriders for the ’24 season.
Despite habitually besting the WCRFU competition, winning seven straight titles from 1926 to ’32, the Riders only added to an ignominious title chase. Led by future Hall of Fame back Eddie James, these Roughriders were the Buffalo Bills before the Buffalo Bills were, losing five straight Grey Cup games between ’28 and ’32.
For the 1936 season, the Riders switched to the new Western Interprovincial Football Union. Despite winning the conference in the inaugural season, the Riders were banned from playing in the postseason playoff tournament due to a dispute regarding the eligibility of seven American players on the team’s roster. This penalty acted as a mini-curse of sorts: The Riders wouldn’t win the WIFU for the next 10 years.
In 1946, Canadian professional football returned after a one-year hiatus and, as the sole high-level pro club operating in the province, the Roughriders were renamed the Saskatchewan Roughriders. For the ‘’48 season, the Riders first wore the now-familiar green-and-white uniforms.
The 1960s and 70s are seen as a peak in Roughriders history, but the success they enjoyed is a Riders kinda success. In ’58, the Canadian Football League was officially established with the Riders among the eight initial franchises; that same year, the man who would become local legend, Ken Preston, was brought aboard as general manager. Preston GMed the Riders for 20 years, getting the Riders into the playoffs 15 times (and all 15 in the latter 18 seasons of his career) – yet the first Grey Cup win only came in 1966. To bet on Canadian Football League or otherwise, known as the CFL - Bet Here.
The team that Preston’s machinations helped build included FB George Reed (who ran for an absolutely incredible 1,700 yards in ’66 and retired as the all-time worldwide leader in the stat with 16,116), QB Ron Lancaster and former St. Louis Cardinals DT Ed McQuarters. In the second-ever Roughriders vs. Rough Riders Grey Cup, Saskatchewan took complete control of the championship with a stifling 15-0 second half performance. Essentially these same Riders lost the following Grey Cup; ultimately, the team would run up a 1-4 mark in Grey Cups during the Ken Preston Era.
Head coach John Gregory is credited as the next savior of Roughriders football. A former SDSU head coach, Gregory came aboard for the 1987 season and got the Riders into the playoffs the following year for the first time since ’77. By ’89, the Riders had won their second-ever championship with an improbable run following a 9-9 regular season that led to a last-second 43-40 win in what is still recognized as perhaps the greatest Grey Cup game ever played. Quarterback Kent Austin stayed with the team through ’93, but the Riders never truly came close to winning a third time for the remainder of the century.
In the 2000s, player movement in the CFL has become even more pronounced and scouting particularly in the U.S. has improved immeasurably. These changes have made rebuilding processes a lot quicker and have benefitted nearly every club in the league. Since the turn of the millennium, the Riders have played in four Grey Cups, winning in 2007 and ’13: This equaled in six seasons the number of Grey Cups the franchise had won in its first 96.
Between these two wins was perhaps the most egregious loss in Grey Cup history, the infamous “13th Man” game against the Montreal Alouettes in 2009 as well as three-point loss to the same Als the following year. And the win of ’13 was fairly quickly shown to have been a double-edged sword for Corey Chamblin, who was soon chastised for having mortgaged the Riders’ medium-term future by loading the required Canadian roster sports with inferior talent.
What are the odds for the Riders in 2018?
If you’re into CFL betting, you’ll definitely want to think about wagering on the 2018 Saskatchewan Roughriders to take the Grey Cup. Head coach Chris Jones has followed his ’15 title with the Edmonton Eskimos to three seasons’ worth of digging the Riders out of the hole dug by Chamblin & Co., mixing and matching players to his liking.
For 2018, the Riders had one of the CFL’s better offseasons with huge signings including RB Jerome Messam, DB Otha Foster, DL Travis Bond, LB Sam Hurl and CB John Ojo, plus the much-needed reupping of WR Duron Carter.
The sportsbooks have the Roughriders at a very generous line of 7/1. Rider-Radio likes those odds very much.