Yesterday the career of one of the premiere coaches in Roughrider history came to an end as Ken Miller announced he was stepping down from Head Coaching duties (though he will stay on as VP of Football Operations). It hardly comes as a surprise as Miller has been embracing the pro football grind while most people his age are drinking prune juice, watching Matlock, considering the use of adult diapers and talking endlessly about what is wrong with kids these days (though that may be a bad comparison since other than the prune juice I pretty much just described me). At the ripe old age of 69, Miller is probably long overdue to step away from the sidelines.
Though I’m not surprised by his decision, I am disappointed. It sucks to lose a coach of Miller’s calibre. While he may not enjoy the “rock star” status that names like Austin, Hufnagel and Trestman do, his resume places him in some pretty elite company.
Here a list of his accomplishments that is by no means exhaustive:
- He was the offensive coordinator for the Riders in 2007 when they won the Grey Cup.
- Under his guidance Kerry Joseph was named MOP, Weston Dressler was named Most Outstanding Rookie, John Chick was named Defensive Player of the Year and Andy Fantuz was named Most Outstanding Canadian. Awards that hadn’t been seen in Saskatchewan for decades.
- He led us to back to back Grey Cup appearances. Something that no Rider coach had done in over 40 years.
- In his 3 season as Rider head coach they never finished lower than 2nd place and never won less than 10 games. This includes 2008 when all his best players broke their legs and he had to win games with Michael Bishop under centre. This includes 2009 when the season was overshadowed by our GM being charged with sexual assault. And this includes the 2010 season which followed the most heart wrenching Grey Cup loss ever and included the departure of 4 elite defensive starters. It was never easy for Miller but he always delivered results regardless of the obstacles in his way.
The only thing missing from Miller’s resume was a Grey Cup ring as a head coach… though he was within a hair of it twice.Bottom line is, he was a great coach and he will be missed.
This coaching carousel is nothing new to the Riders. In fact its been a long time since we’ve had even remotely the same coaching staff in consecutive seasons. In 2007 after finally discovering a coach that could lead us to the Grey Cup he left for the NCAA. In 2009, after finding a coaching staff that could once again get us to the Cup, our offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator and QB coach to another team. And now after once again getting to the big show our head coach retires. My kingdom for some consistency.
But as Eric Tillman once said that’s the risk you run when you employ good people. The last time we had consistency was between 2000 and 2006 and the only reason we had consistency is because our coaches weren’t good enough to be coveted by other teams. Given the choice I guess employing a carousel of good coaches is the preferred option.
The Riders have said they will do "a complete search" for a new head coach and I'm sure they will go through the motions for appearance sakes but realistically that's all it will be... going through the motions. If you honestly believe that we won't be hiring internally you are somewhat delusional.
A new head coach will want to hire his own assistants and that means turfing our existing staff. So basically it comes down to either promoting Doug Berry or parting ways with him. And if you really think Brendan Taman is going let Doug Berry go, you are sadly mistaken.
While I have some concerns over Berry's temper, how he lost the last lockeroom he was in charge of and his insistence on trying to make Durant a pocket passer the fact remains he's the most qualified (unless of course you'd prefer we give Etch or Daley another chance at head coaching). He's got head coaching experience and took a team to the Grey Cup.
So as we say goodbye to someone who is bound for the Plaza of Honour, you have 2 months to get used to the idea of Doug Berry running the show.