There is no one who knows what the Saskatchewan Roughriders are going through this season more than former player and coach with the green and white, Al Ford.
The Regina-native spent 28 years with the Roughriders organization in various capacities ranging from player, scout, and general manager, to director. As a punter, he collected a Grey Cup championship in 1966. He also played on Rider teams that reached the championship but failed to win in 1967, 1969, 1972, and 1976.
Ford became an assistant coach with the team in 1979 – that’s also the year the Roughriders started the season with 12 consecutive losses.
“I just remember that it was long hours trying to find some secret that would help us win some games,” said Ford during an interview on News Talk Radio’s Mainstreet.
The ’79 Riders would not collect a victory until the middle of October when they snuck by the Edmonton Eskimos 26-25. They would win one more game that season – beating the B.C. Lions 26-12 – finishing with a 2-14 record.
Besides the winless start, it’s tough to say if there is anything comparable between the Roughrider squad that year and the one assembled in 2015. However, teams that begin a season so poorly are always looking to make changes.
“We’d obviously try to maybe change the practice routine,” said Ford. “Do different things within that practice routine that we hadn’t either done in a while or we hadn’t done that year.”
Ford hopes Roughrider fans stick with their team this year.
“We have a chance of having a pretty good young quarterback and that should excite some of the people because that’s probably one of the reasons why all of this change did happen at this particular time,” said Ford.
He said Brett Smith is not always going to play great and that is when the fans need to be there to show their support.
We don’t know how things are going to play out on Sunday, but we do know Smith will be the starting quarterback in the Labour Day Classic against Winnipeg. It could be when the green and white pick up their first “W” of the season.
“Labour Day has had some strange things. It is a tremendous advantage to have a sold out stadium when you’re the home team,” said Ford.