Roy Exum: Talk About A Frozen Tundra!

Sunday, November 24, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
The Grey Cup is to our Canadian neighbors what the Super Bowl is to the United States and, in today’s 101st renewal of the Canadian Football League Championship Game, the Hamilton Tiger Cats will visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  To add to the pomp and pageantry of “Grey Cup Fever,” a special weather statement has been issued by Environment Canada for this afternoon and it can be summed up in just one of its sentences: “Eskimo attire would seem a good idea.”
Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. (EST on TSN) in Mosaic Stadium and, factoring in the ceaseless wind that screams across the plains, game-time temperatures are expected to be – oh -- somewhere around 15 degrees below zero.
The weather advisory also reads, “Mosaic Stadium has a tendency to funnel winds,” meaning wind speed could increase higher in the stands, and “this will result in wind chill values near minus 10 Celsius and minus 15 or so towards the end of the game.”
The title game will be played in the capital of Saskatchewan, a homely place called Regina, which is about 350 miles northwest of Bismark, North Dakota, and it was so cold on Taylor Field when the Tiger Cats practiced on Wednesday that four different footballs were flattened by the punters and an assistant coach’s plastic binder shattered. Oh, yes, and several Hamilton players were immediately treated for frostbite.
Running back C.J. Gable, who played for Southern Cal before joining the Tiger Cats, has never experienced a Prairie winter. "They told me about it but I was like 'OK, it can't be that bad,’" Gable said after practice. "But I was wrong."
Ticat head coach Kent Austin laughed about it. “If you looked at the reaction of our players coming off the plane to the terminal, the walk to the bus, you would understand exactly why we need to be in the weather today," Austin laughed at the coaches' news conference earlier in the day. "So we're going to get that out of the way early."
Austin, who starred at Nashville’s Brentwood Academy before a superb college career at Ole Miss, is the Ticat’s head coach and is poised to win his second Grey Cup in just two years of coaching in the CFL. The catch is that his first Annis Stukus Trophy came in 2007 when he was the head coach of Saskatchewan. He knows all about the wind whistling through Mosaic Stadium.
Austin quit the Roughriders after just one year in 2008 to return to Ole Miss as an assistant under Houston Nutt and was then hired as head coach at Cornell for three seasons. He was hired by the Ticats last December and, after guiding Hamilton to a 10-8 regular season, his club beat Montreal 19-16 in overtime and then shocked Toronto, 36-24, last week.
Austin’s route to Canada is interesting. He spent three years on the St. Louis Cardinals’ bench after he got out of Ole Miss during his playing days and then he came to Canada as a player for the Riders. He was the MVP in the 1989 Grey Cup when Saskatchewan beat Hamilton, passing for 474 yards in a way that endeared him in Regina.
In a 10-year Canadian career, Austin played on four different teams and had 36,030 career passing yards on 4,700 pass attempts, completing 2,709. He threw 198 touchdown passes and 191 interceptions in his career, but the reason a huge banner bearing his likeness waves at Mosaic Stadium is because of the Grey Cup.
Some wanted to remove the banner for today’s game but the town’s citizens own the franchise and too many remember Austin’s glory years and the fact he brought a Grey Cub to Saskatchewan as both a player and a coach.
Unlike Canada’s big metropolitan cities, Regina is said to be draped in more green than Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day and, for the record, the cheapest tickets for the game (a sellout) are $200 each. The Roughriders are the second-smallest “market” in North America, edged only by Green Bay (NFL), and the public ownership agreement is much like the Packers.
Corey Chamblin, a Birmingham, Ala., native who played for Tennessee Tech under current Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith, is the Roughriders’ head coach and, in his second year at Saskatchewan, guided the Riders to an 11-7 regular season. He won his first playoff game with a 29-25 win over the BC Lions and then guided the Roughriders over Calgary to earn a berth in today’s game.
Canadian football uses a larger field (110 yards X 65 yards) than American football (100 yards X 53 1/3 yards) and Canadians play 12 players instead of 11. There is a full yard between the linemen in Canada and just three downs instead of the four in American football. Instead of America’s fair catch on a punt, there is a five-yard zone around the ball that the kicking team cannot enter until the ball is touched. There are a number of lesser differences, too.
Kent Austin, who played high school football for Brentwood Academy in Nashville, will coach the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in today's Grey Cup game for the 2013 championship of the Canadian Football League.
Kent Austin, who played high school football for Brentwood Academy in Nashville, will coach the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in today's Grey Cup game for the 2013 championship of the Canadian Football League.

Why The Big Money In District 1 School Board Race? - And Response (2)

With the influx of money from Lookout and Signal Mountains as well as the teacher’s union, one of my opponents has already been able to send out 3-4 mailers, two letters and a postcard. One should ask why would the “big money” people on Lookout and Signal Mountains care about a school board race in District 1? The only answer is control and they know they cannot control me. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jerika’s Last Dance

There is a horrifying disease called spinal muscular atrophy type 2 that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. What happens is the nerve cells in a person’s brain stem and spinal cord slowly die and, without the ability to voluntarily control your muscles, your body withers away in one of the most painful ways you can imagine. Jerika Bolen, age 14, can’t stand it any longer, nor ... (click for more)

County Schools Receive Community Gift For Almost $1 Million To Fund Public School Bible History Program

Bible in the Schools presented a community gift for nearly $1 million to the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to reimburse 100 percent of the costs of funding a Bible history program in 18 public schools for the 2015–2016 academic year. Enrollment data for 2015–2016 reported 3,582 students in grades 6–12 elected to take a Bible history classes. “This gift from the ... (click for more)

DA's Office Defends Suspended Sentence In School Bus Driver Rape Case

The District Attorney's Office defended a controversial suspended sentence in a rape case involving a substitute county school bus driver. Prosecutor Jason Demastus said the victim, who was 15 years old at the time of the March 2015 incident, was in agreement on the plea and refused to testify against Alexander Rodriquez. Rodriguez, 34, last Thursday pleaded guilty to ... (click for more)

Dunbar Promoted To Head Wrestling Job At Ooltewah

J.D. Dunbar had been promoted to head wrestling coach at Ooltewah High School. Dunbar, an assistant with the Owls’ mat program since 2012, becomes a head coach for the first time at the high school level. He replaces Bryant Blackmon, who recently resigned. The 36-year-old Dunbar is also the school’s strength and conditioning coach and assistant head football coach on ... (click for more)

Another Big Week For Chattanooga Football Club

More than 10,000 fans gathered at Finley Stadium last Saturday to see a 5-3 penalty kick win over Miami United.   CFC keeper Gregga Hartley made a save and scored the winning penalty kick, helping his team to advance to the national semifinals on Saturday.  They will host Sonoma County Sol at 7:30 in the comfy confines of "Fort Finley"  Chattanooga is the top ... (click for more)