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Truth Bombs: Winnipeg Is The Class Of The League And Saskatchewan Is A Hot Mess!

If you have ever read one of my Truth Bombs articles you know I come out swinging and say it how I see it. You can agree or disagree but I will not hold back. After reading this you will not have to ask, “Tell me how you really feel?”

I will start off with the low hanging fruit…Garrett Marino.

*Sometimes you have to get rid of the low hanging fruit to get to the good stuff and that is exactly what Saskatchewan did. Early on Tuesday night the press release came out that Garrett Marino was cut from the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In his short 2022 season Marino was suspended for a historic 4 games for his antics and brutal play against Hamilton. His 4 game suspension was actually a combination of 3 separate suspensions – the league has a maximum 2 game suspension policy so this was a work around. His play in that game would end the season Ottawa’s quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

Based on Marino’s response to the suspension one would have thought he had learned his lesson.

But no! After coming back from suspension, the very next game, Marino was fined again for an illegal hit. Then in the Labour Day Classic Marino took another liberty, this time on reigning MOP Zach Collaros. Supplemental discipline was all but guaranteed for that hit, but the Riders released Marino before that could occur.

I do not expect another team to pick up Marino this season! Maybe some team gives him a chance in the 2023 season, but I would not be surprised if his career in the CFL is over. That sense is heightened after reading about a memo that Commissioner Ambrosie put out to other teams.

I get it…he is a real person and this was his livelihood! Too bad! He plays with an intent to injure other players and take away their livelihood. Do not let the door hit you on the way out, Marino.

*Saskatchewan is still a tire fire!

Ok, so Saskatchewan released Marino but they are still a hot mess! In the Labour Day Classic Duke Williams took a selfish penalty…and he was not even playing. (More on – or moron – that later)

If we thought Montreal had discipline issues then we need to put Saskatchewan right up there. And whereas Montreal used Khari Jones as a scapegoat in the case of Saskatchewan the blame needs to fall squarely on the shoulders of Head Coach Craig Dickenson.

Craig has no control of his team – both players and coaches – and the inmates are running the asylum!

Do you recall the challenge flag that Saskatchewan threw challenging offensive pass interference? Do you happen to recall the reaction of Saskatchewan staff on the sideline when that challenge flag was thrown? They were irate that they ‘had to’ throw the challenge flag and I could read the lips of the staff with many expletives being yelled at the officials. The young people call that a ‘bad take,’ as the ruling on the field stood in a very clear offensive penalty call. Contrast that to Winnipeg. If anyone ever yells at the officials from the sideline it is only Mike O’Shea…and that rarely happens.

*Moving on to the Duke, Duke Williams. Not even in the game, Duke took a penalty after a Winnipeg player tackled as Saskatchewan player and ended up on the Saskatchewan sideline. Taking such a useless penalty Duke looked more like a clown, or maybe a jester.

My kids and I have a name for that kind thing, we say that person acted like a doofus. Yes, ‘Doofus Williams’ may be more appropriate than ‘Duke Williams.”  

*Coach O’Shea would never allow any of that to happen!

No. Coach O’Shea is a really good leader!

What qualifies me to say that? I happen to have a masters degree in Leadership & Management and graduated with honors. Who cares, right? I totally agree! It is just a piece of paper that anyone can get if they put in the time and money. However, it does mean that I spent a considerable amount of time studying leadership and management. I also have my own leadership and management consulting business and multiple certifications, so I believe I can speak about this intelligently.

High-performance teams are not teams made up of a bunch of high-performance people. It is much more than that. You can take the most talented people in any field, put them on a team, and they can still stink. In sports we call that ‘being good on paper.’

However, what differentiates high-performance teams is character, competency, and culture. You would never see a Mike O’Shea team with a player that does not have all three of those! O’Shea would never run with a guy that had competency (and pick either one of character or culture) but lacks the other ‘C’.

In fact, character and culture is at the heart of the motto “FIFO,” which is “Fit In or ___ Off,” which is inscribed in both the 2019 and 2021 Grey Cup rings.

If Marino were ever on the Bombers he would have been cut as soon as he was suspended 4 games. It would not matter how good Marino was. I want to be fair here, I think Marino is a good player, he has the competency…but he lacks the character.

On the contrary, Winnipeg is riddled with players that all have character, competency, and fit the culture.

It is not an accident that Winnipeg can sustain injuries and fill guys in and keep winning! Sometimes they are even down to their 3rd stringer! Yes, that is scouting. But the scouts are not just scouting for competency. No, they scout for competency, character, and culture.

I have never talked to a Bomber scout, but when you understand high-performance teams it is quite obvious.

*The Mike O’Shea culture is boring off the field.

If you have ever listened to Bomber Head Coach Mike O’Shea pregame, post-game, or mid-week it is quite boring. “We are just trying to go 1-0 this week,” “I’ll have to watch the film.” If you ask about an injury you often get a response like, “Yah, we’re not sure. We will have to see tomorrow,” and guess what ‘tomorrow,’ never comes! If you asked the same question the next day the response is something like, “Yah, we are still evaluating and will know more later in the week.”

These boring responses are not because O’Shea lacks personality! No. They are thought out, calculated, and fully intentional. It goes back to culture. It is part of what makes Mike O’Shea a really good leader! He determined what type of culture he wanted on the Bombers and that culture has become their identity. That is what great leaders do. They establish an organizational identity that cannot be ruined if someone leaves (or in the case of sport, leaves or is injured).

 Mike O’Shea has established a culture where the team never gets too high and never gets too low. He has established a culture where the focus is singularly day by day, one game at a time. And guess what? His players have truly bought into this!

Sometimes you get a bit of a spicy interview response from players…but it is few and far between.

Even after hitting a career long 55 yard field goal, Marc Liegghio provides a pretty bland interview response.

How about Nic Demski’s response? After winning the Labour Day Classic, a game full of passion and emotion, Demski barely smiles when he says, “I am so happy.”

However, this boring culture translates into really exciting football!

And you can believe it will be another exciting game at IG Field for the sold out 2022 Banjo Bowl on September 10th and a really boring interview session afterwards!

What did I get right? What did you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.

Find all my articles here.

Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans.

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Don Cruickshank Reporter


  1. Gerry

    September 8, 2022 at 8:54 pm

    VERY well said! I’ve long said that it is the culture as much as the talent that had led to the Bomber’s dominance. And it took Osh and Walters several years to get the players and establish that culture. I believe that could mean we see a dynasty here, since the individual players are not as vital to the success of the organization as the ongoing mindset of the team.

  2. Don Cruickshank

    September 8, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for reading Gerry! Great added insights!

  3. RU4Real

    September 9, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    You nailed it. Very insightful. Remember over the years the Bombers have had their fair share of morons also. “Written by a Bomber fan for Bomber fans” sums it all up in a tidy package.

    • Bill Schaffer

      September 9, 2022 at 4:46 pm

      Agree Bombers have a good team after years of mediocrity. They can thank mediocrity in Rider front office who gave them Jefferson,Demski and Collaris for nothing. Also good luck as prior to arriving in Winnipeg, Collaris could not blow his nose without having a concussion.
      As an aside and I am not defending Marino as he is clearly not able to act responsibly on the field but remember it was a Bomber who took out Collaris on a questionable tackle when he was a Rider.

      • Tammy

        September 13, 2022 at 10:38 am

        Bill Schaffer be honest for years Winnipeg wasn’t just mediocre. They suffered from stinkiocity, down right stenchiosity. But they finally assembled great coaching staff and a fantastic ideology that fosters great commarodery both on and off the field. BUT you are mistaken in that Winnipeg got Collaros from the Riders. They aquired Collaros from I believe it was Toronto. And the questionable tackle was not from a Winnipeg player. It was a down right dirty hit in my opinion from Simoni Lawrence in a game against Hamilton.

  4. OhMyGoodness

    September 12, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    very well said in this article. Agree 100% on everything.

    Except Bill Schaffer’s comment that it was a questionable tackle from a Bomber player that took out Collaros. It was a dirty hit by Hamilton’s Simoni Lawrence that gave him the concussion.

  5. OhMyGoodness

    September 12, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    very well said in this article. Agree 100% on everything.

    Except Bill Schaffer’s comment that it was a questionable tackle from a Bomber player that took out Collaros. It was a dirty hit by Hamilton’s Simoni Lawrence that gave him the concussion.

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