Rob Ralph’s quest to build a great CFL team
Rob Ralph (Radio and Television ’00) planned to tell stories as a sports journalist. Instead, he’s part of those stories, working behind the scenes as director of Canadian scouting for the Edmonton Eskimos. After starting with the football team as assistant video coordinator in 1999, the lifelong sports fan now scrutinizes Canadian and U.S. university and college teams to identify about 3 dozen prospective Canadian players for the Eskimos’ annual training camp. For them, it’s their big break. For him, it’s part of a job that helped earn the team its 14th Grey Cup in 2015, setting high expectations for this fall.
My job is to identify where the talent is. What schools are they going to? Where will I be making stops? In August, I’ll go to Ontario for two weeks. In September or October, I’ll go to Quebec. Usually, in October/November, I’ve whittled it down to the top talent. It takes a lot of time.
My travel schedule is eight to 10 weeks. Obviously, I can’t be in 30 different cities throughout Canada on a Saturday. I can only be in one city at one time and I’ll watch the film of the other games.
I got into this as a video coordinator and, basically, just learned how to be a scout through the scouts who have come through here, and the coaching staff. I’ve learned by experience. Watching all the video, filming all those practices and games, I was digesting so much. I didn’t know it when I was starting out, but I was learning so much about what to look for when finding a professional athlete.
I enjoy giving amateur athletes the opportunity to become professional athletes. People don’t realize how hard it is to become a professional. It’s really quite tremendous to see the evolution. That’s what I love about my job.
Last year was a great year for all of the staff. That’s the satisfaction in this job, it’s working with the team to achieve the greatest goal, and that’s winning a championship.
12-hour days and weekends during the fall. Forty-hour weeks in the
Based in Edmonton with travel across Canada and the U.S.
There are online courses but most scouts work their way up through various roles with a team.