Friday, December 17, 2010

The Men Who Would Be Coach

I’m no longer sure what to expect out of our search for a new head coach. In the days after Miller stepped back it seemed almost a formality that Doug Berry would be the replacement. Then the rumour mill seemed to swing abruptly to Richie Hall being all but hired. But over 2 weeks have gone by and the search continues… and that isn’t really a good sign for either Hall or Berry (and I’m sure it breaks your hearts to hear that).

Brendan Taman has said their shortlist is down to 6 candidates that they are considering. We’ve already discussed Hall, Berry and Marshall. So let’s talk a bit about the other 3.

The first is Corey Chamblain who is currently the DB coach for the Stamps and has been with them for 3 years. Prior to that he was DB coach in Winnipeg, did some work in NFL Europe and was a special teams coach in the NCAA. He’s definitely a candidate out of left field but everyone seems to talk very highly of him. I think he’s an extremely long shot to become HC but his interview may have been more an attempt to lure him to the Riders as a special teams coordinator (please, please, please, please, please) or some other form of assistant.

The second is a familiar name, Bob Wylie who is currently the OL coach for the Denver Broncos. Wylie was our OL coach in 2009 as well as for the Bombers before that and has also served as a TE/OL coach for a few other NFL teams as well as some college experience. He is widely respected as one of the better O-Line coaches out there. While Wylie as head coach would make for an easy visual transition from Miller for the fans (old guy, heavier set, fairly calm and quiet, if he shaved his moustache and wore some designer glasses you’d never notice the difference), it would be a big jump from OL coach to head honcho. We likely won’t know more about Wylie until his Denver Broncos finish embarrassing themselves. I would rank his chances as slightly above Chamblain’s though I wouldn’t mind having him back to coach our O-line.

That last name is the most recent and the one that is generating the most discussion…Als Offensive Coordinator Scott Milanovich. I’ll admit that I was excited when I heard we were actually going to interview him. He is THE name when you talk about coordinators ready to take the next step. Coordinating an offense that appears in 3 straight Grey Cups will tend to elevate your status.

This isn’t Milanovich’s first shot at a HC spot. He was previously strongly considered for the job in Edmonton that ultimately went to Richie Hall and the job in Toronto that ultimately went to Jim Barker. In both cases it was Milanovich’s choice to withdraw from contention. With Edmonton it was because Maccioccia was not going to give him freedom to choose his own assistants (what a genius decision that turned out to be) and with Toronto it was because they offered him peanuts for salary. So that tells us 2 things if we are serious about Milanovich. 1) We gotta pay the guy. I doubt this will be an issue, we have money and the HC of a top team like the Riders should be well compensated. 2) We need to be prepared to part with some or all of our assistants. Taman has stated that the new coach will be given freedom to choose his own staff but I still wonder if the organization is prepared to make a hire that may lead to big changes fresh off a Grey Cup run.

If nothing else I’m glad to see we are putting serious effort into the search for a new HC and exploring a number of options… especially ones that might result in Daley being fired.

One note of caution should we end up hiring Milanovich (who needs a nick name because after typing Miller for 3 years I would find it tough adjusting to a long and complicated name like that): I think we all need to temper our man-crush type infatuation with him. He may be a bright young coach with loads of potential but there is still a great deal of risk should we hire him. Fact is he has never been a head coach so there is no guarantee he will be the second coming of Kent Austin. He might have rookie struggles like LaPolice did last season and he might even fall flat on his face as some rookie coaches have done. Don’t assume that because he comes with a lot of hype that he is flawless.

Hiring a coach is a lot like getting to choose only one present out of a pile of them. We are pretty sure that Richie Hall’s present sucks while we have no idea what Milanovich’s (damn that’s tough to type!) is. We think its good but won’t know for sure until we open it. Given the choice I would rather take the present that you don’t know about over the one you know is likely crap.

Other coaching news from across the league…
- Mike Gibson has been hired as the new RB coach in Calgary. That’s too bad since there were rumours that Mike Kelly might be in consideration. The circus that man brings with him would have given me ample offseason content for my blog.

- The Adam Rita reign of incompetence has finally come to an end as his contract was not renewed and Jim Barker has assumed the GM duties. Which is good for the Argos and the CFL in general but once again bad for this blog as Rita’s boneheaded recruiting decisions provided me a ton of things to mock in this space (really not a great news week for me).

NFL Watch
In addition to the much publicized Andy Fantuz NFL workouts, there are a few other players that have upcoming workouts down south.
- Mark Restilli will work out for the Jets
- Chad Owens is getting interest from numerous teams
- Emmanuel Arceneaux is also reported to be getting some looks

CFL Ins and Outs

Out: QB Kerry Joseph, WR Derick Armstrong, DB Jason Goss, DB Randee Drew, WR Skyler Green
As evidence by the list of above cuts, it’s the offseason for an Eric Tillman led team. That means that anyone the wrong side of 30 or with a salary exceeding $80,000 and no Canadian passport should be very afraid.

Out: DB Shawn Gallant (retired)
Now who will be the designated “don’t screw up the coin toss” guy in Winnipeg?

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