100th GREY CUP
With the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto in 2012, the Argos badly wanted to be there and hirng Milanovich was theri first step in trying to achieve tha goalt. The second was a blockbuster trade, at least from the Toronto point of view, when they obtained Ricky Ray from Edmonton, sending QB Steven Jyles and kicker Grant Shaw to the Eskimos. Everyone seemed to think Edmonton had been fleeced and when Jyles did little in Edmonton Eskimo GM Eric Tillman was fired after the last regular season game. Ironically, the firing was just before Edmonton would play a crossover playoff game against Toronto and Ricky Ray.
The second future HOF quarterback to move in the off season was Henry Burris who had lost his starting job late in 2011 to Drew Tait. Keving Glenn would go to the Stampeders and that would prove more important than many realized at the time. The other big off season player movement was slotback Andy Fantuz jumping from Saskatchewan to Hamilton. Fantuz had been the Outstanding Canadian and the leading receiver in the CFL in 2010 before a failed attempt at the NFL in 2011 and then getting injured after returning to the Riders.
In the East during the regular season it was somewhat business as usual with Montreal finishing first. The Alouettes, however, were not consistent compared to past years, especially on defence. Anthony Calvillo had another very good year and broke pretty much all career passing recorfds in the CFL including most yards and touchdowns thrown. Injuries to key players like RB Brandon Whitaker and receiver Jamal Richardson also hurt the Alouettes. Toronto got off to a slow start and then made a surprise move when they released running back Cory Boyd who at the time was leading the CFL in rushing. Milanovich and Barker felt the faster and more versatile Chad Kackert better suited their offence and it is hard to argue with the end result of the move. Ray seemed to take time to adjust to the new team and receivers as Toronto staggered through a 9-9 regular season. The brightest spot was the play of Chad Owens who would set a new all-purpose yards record and win the Outstanding Player award. Burris and the Hamilton offence put up big numbers and points, but the defence was horrible. Bright spots included speedy second year receiver and kick returner Chris Williams. Rookie running back Chevron Walker got off to a great start, but was injured and replaced by a recalled Avon Cobourne who did win an East all-star. Fantuz had a decen year, but not the one that was expected or hoped for by Hamilton. In Winnipeg, the new stadium was way behind schedule and the Bombers, playing on the road to start the year, got off to an 0-5 start and Paul LaPolice became the fifth head coach from 2011 to lose his job with Tim Burke taking over. Injuries didn't help the Bombers who had gone to the Grey Cup in 2011. Buck Pearce once again went down and after dumping Fred Reid in the off-season, his replacement Chirs Garrett was lost for the season in the pre-season. Eventually, Chad Simpson would emerge as a bright spot at that position, but the Bombers ewre never really in the playoff race.
The big story out West was the emergance or maybe continued emergance of two Canadian born running backs, Jon Cornish in Calgary and Andrew Harris in BC. Cornish would win the CFL rushing title and Harris would break Normie Kwong's record for most yards from scrimage by a Canadian. Cornish would go on to edge out Harris as the top Canadian in 2012. Led by Harris and quarterback Travis Lulay, the Lions were the class of the league at 13-5. The Lions did it with an excellent defence, a defence that was without outstanding linebacker Solomon Elimimiun who had gone down to try the NFL. Adam Bighill stepped in and played so well that when Elimimiun came back, he couldn't get his job back. If there was a worry for the Lions, it was their receiving corps where both star receivers Arland Bruce III and Geroy Simon struggled, some of it due to injuries. Simon, however, did set the alltime CFL record for receiving yards in 2012. In Calgary, Drew Tait went down with an injury early in the season and all of a sudden the insurance policy of Kevin Glenn was crucial. Glenn responded with probably his best season in the CFL, and fueld by the running of Cornish and the receiving of Nik Lewis, the Stamps finished second at 12-6. In Saskatchewan, the Riders looked to rebound after a horrible 5-13 in 2011 following two Grey Cup appearances and losses in 2009 and 2010. Chamblin seemed to have turned the Riders around. Durant was playing well at quarterback and rookie running back Kory Sheets was providing a spark to the offence along with Weston Dressler. The Riders ewre 8-6 at one point and seemed poised to battle Calgary for second with an outside shot at first. Then the wheels fell off and the Riders lost their last four games to finish 8-10, just barely ahead of Edmonton in thrird in the West. Edmonton never seemed to recover from the shock of the Ricky Ray trade. Jyles floundered and was eventually replaced by Kerry Joseph. Joseph had been the Outstanding Player in the CFL in 2007 when he led the Rdiers to the Grey Cup, but he had little success after that in Toronto and was just supposed to be the veteran backup and insurance policy in Edmonton. Joseph did perform well enough to get Edmonton into the playoffs as a crossover team. The other sore point for Edmonton was at running back where Jerome Messum had gone to the NFL. Hugh Charles performed very well, but inexplicabley Edmonton picked up Cory Boyd after his release from Toronto and then Mesum returned. It was a case of three not being better than one as Edmonton tried to soemhow juggle all of them and their offence seemed to fall apart. To be fair to Edmonton, they also had a lot of injuries, especially on their defensive line where at one point, all four starters wree out at the same time.
In the semi-finals, Toronto and Ricky Ray had no problem defeating a bewildered Edmonton team and it was clear Ray was now in synch with his offence. In the West semi-final, Calgary, with Drew Tait back and replacing Kevin Glenn led almost the entire game. The Riders came back in the fourth quarter to take the lead with just 35 seconds left,only to have a breakdown on defence and allow Tate to throw a 70+ yard TD pass to Romby Bryant to send Saskatchewan to next year country yet again. It was another one of those almost predicatable last second miracle losses that have so often plague the Riders in the playoffs. The miracle this time was that Tait threw the winning pass with a badly injured arm that would prevent him from playing in the West final or the Grey Cup.
That set up a Toronto - Montreal East final and BC-Calgary in the West. Perhaps symbolic of their unpredictable year, Montreal lost the East final when Brian Bratton dropped an Anthony Calvillo pass at the end of the game that would have sent Montreal to the Grey Cup. In the West, Kevin Glenn, reinstated at the helm of the Stampeders, had one of his best games of his career to lead Calgary to an upset over BC and end the Lions hopes of repeating as Grey Cup Champions.
In the 100th Grey Cup, however, Kevin Glenn had a day to forget while Ricky Ray had a game to remember. Ray shrugged off an inereception on his first series of the game to lead the Argonauts to victory. Running back Chad Kackert, the guy who had replaced Cory Boyd was a big weapon for the double while the Argo defence shut down Jon Cornish. Kackert was named the Grey Cup MVP.