The Saskatchewan Roughriders are runnin’ back to Regina.
It may not be the correct city in the Guess Who song, but it signals another end to training camp in Saskatoon.
Head coach Chris Jones had nothing but good things to say about his third camp in the bridge city.
“It’s amazing, the time, how quickly it’s gone,” he said. “It seems like we just got here yesterday.”
“We’ve already gone through two-and-a-half weeks of practice and fixing to play our second pre-season game. It’s been a really, really good camp. The hosts here in Saskatoon has been outstanding. They do a great job here at the university.”
The congratulations extend beyond the hosts. The team has to set up a brand new headquarters every year in Saskatoon.
All the pads, inflatables and equipment used on the field is brought from Mosaic.
Then there are the office supplies. For every announcement and press release, there are printers, papers and staff to send them out.
Daily laundry, extra supplies for players, it all gets packed into a semi-truck and hauled up to Saskatoon for training camp.
“There’s a lot of planning that goes on,” Jones said of the task to move the team to Saskatoon. “Basically we got to move our offices, all of our equipment rooms, training rooms, our houses here to the dorms. It does take a little bit of preparation, but we’ve done it now for three years and it’s been great.”
Although Jones admits having training camp in Regina would be more convenient, he thinks moving to Saskatoon for the first chunk of the year helps break up the season and prevents the season from feeling too long.
Plus it gives the team a chance to remind them of their younger, and smaller, days.
“(I’ll) miss my dorm. (Offensive co-ordinator Stephen) McAdoo, he doesn’t like his bed very much. He’s a little bit bigger than me.”
One person enjoying the comforts of Saskatoon is Cody Peters. Born not too far away from Griffiths Stadium, the Saskatoon Hilltops linebacker was able to sleep in his own bed every night as he trained himself to learn the safety position for the first time in his life.
“I’ve just been taking it every day, not getting too ahead of myself,” Peters said of his first professional football camp. “Just taking what’s coming at me.”
As camp begins to wind down, Peters doesn’t have to pinch himself that he’s playing for his boyhood team.
“I’ve been working towards something like this the last five years,” he said. “It’s just sort of who I’m on the field with, playing against and all that kind of stuff.”
“This is my dream, this is what I want, this is what I’m working for.”
With plenty of roster cuts expected in the coming days, Peters doesn’t know if he’ll land a spot on the team, but he knows one thing.
“This is probably the most Gatorade I’ve drank in my life,” he said.
Jones talks rule changes
The conversation at camp quickly turned to major rule changes announced by the CFL Tuesday surrounding how teams build coaching staffs.
Starting in 2019, teams will have to trim coaching staffs down to 11 people, with an additional 17 football-related staff, with salaries totalling no more than $2.738 million.
Jones plans on respecting those rules.
“I know that I work for the CFL first and Saskatchewan second. This is how I have earned my living for 16 or 17 years. I hope that we can continue to do that for five years from now and 10 years from now. It was made with the right thoughts in mind. Whether that it’s the exact way to do it, who knows? We will have to support it and see.”
Saskatchewan is known around the league for its financial health, making it a possible target for these rule changes, but Jones quickly tried to put those rumours to rest.
“Everybody’s got this vision that I’m making more than the commissioner and that we got 4 million coaches and that’s not accurate,” he said. ” I didn’t make the rule, but I’ll live by it.”
Saskatchewan currently has 14 coaches listed on its website.
Jones said tough decisions will have to be made next year.
“Everyone is going to have to take a pay cut and that’s pretty much the bottom line of it.”