I was going to save this post for Monday but I’m pretty sure if I did that the Riders would hire a GM Sunday night and render everything I’ve written irrelevant. Even now I’m not entirely confident that the following analysis will still be relevant by days end. The Riders want a GM in place by mid-month but I fully expect this to be finalized within the next 5 days.
A shortlist of four candidates has emerged and other than the fact that I was conspicuously left off said list, it’s a solid candidate pool to pick from with no consensus choice. So I figured I would go through the pros, cons and outstanding questions for each candidate.
The candidate that has drawn the most media attention, even during the Grey Cup. In an “only in the CFL moment” even though rumours of our interest in Jones were out there leading up to the Grey Cup, Ed Hervey got fined for saying that everyone tampers. That’s the equivalent of letting speeders go by but ticketing the guy who says everyone speeds.
Pros: Addresses a lot of needs in one hire. Gives us a GM, fills our head coaching vacancy with a proven winner and brings the skill set to overhaul our awful defense. He’s been actively involved in player recruitment for a few years now. He may not be the world’s friendliest guy but he values winning above pretty much everything else and that kind of leadership would be welcome here.
Cons: My main concern would be stretching himself too thin. While it’s well known he does a lot of player recruitment (particularly on D), he’s been a head coach for just 2 years while also serving as DC. If you add the full GM duties to him, something will need to give. Not many people move up the ranks that quickly so one wonders if he could make the transition. He would need a strong assistant GM to help out and would also need to actually hire a defensive coordinator (hey didn't Corey Chamblin used to be his DB coach in Calgary?... I'm kidding). I imagine in the short term O’Day would stay on as Assistant GM (his permanent job) but you can bet he’d be taking the first opportunity elsewhere if he’s passed over. The idea of a Jones/O’Day combo is actually pretty good.
Questions: Who could he get as OC? Be awesome if he could bring Steve McAdoo with him but I can’t see Edmonton just letting us pillage their entire coaching staff. Another option would be offering Jarious Jackson a promotion.
He is beloved in this province for his time as a player. He’s currently doing the job on an interim basis.
Pros: Probably the strongest candidate in terms of overall management skills. I have no concerns about his ability to manage a roster and the cap. He knows what it will take to overhaul our top-heavy salary structure. He knows the value of Canadian talent, particularly in the trenches. He’s already proven in his short interim tenure that he’s committed to stockpiling draft picks (not handing them out like Halloween candy). He’s a smart, well regarded up and comer who is a respected and known quantity in this market. Plus we have been grooming him for this job since he retired from playing. The talk is LaPolice would be his preferred head coach which is obviously a solid option.
Cons: In terms of player recruitment he is among the least experienced/proven of the candidates. Not saying he can’t recruit but he’s been a part of our front office for 5 years and our recruiting has been visibly a step behind the top-end teams. Taman likely had a lot to do with that but in terms of recruitment O’Day is not spoken of at the level of other Assistant GM’s like Murphy and Sunderland.
Questions: Given his long standing ties to this team, can he make the tough calls on some vets we will need to part with in order to move forward?
Pros: Hands down the most respected and proven recruiter of talent among the candidates. Just look at the pipeline of players the Stamps have had over the years and the depth they were able to maintain. He has strong NCAA connections from his time with the Senior Bowl. He comes from the model organization when it comes to recruiting, drafting and depth.
Cons: Not much. He’s never been the top dog so there could be concerns regarding his general management strengths. Having lived through Tillman (and to a lesser extent Shivers), Riders know as well as anyone that great scouts don’t necessarily translate into great GMs.
Questions: Who would his head coach be? Would he go with a high profile guy like LaPo or opt for someone he has a history with (I honestly have no clue who that would be)?
I think he is an up and coming name in the GM conversation but unless Jones, Murphy and O’Day all turn down the job, I don’t see him as being a serious contender for the job. Keep an eye on him though. I think a year or two down the road he will be in serious consideration for a GM job… I mean one more bad season and Winnipeg is likely going to be in the market for a new GM.
If it was up to me (and as of yet no one from the Riders has called to asked my advice) I would probably choose John Murphy. He’s a proven talent finder who helped build the model CFL franchise. That said, of O’Day, Jones and Murphy I don’t think there is a bad option. Either way the Riders should end up with a solid GM. Given the performance of our previous GM it’s not like we could end up worse… unless Joe Mack suddenly becomes a candidate.