It’s one thing to roast the Saskatchewan Roughriders for resorting to convenience hires as they have when they made Brendan Taman the general manager last year, and then gave him a promotion to general manager this year (he was general manager last year, but since he was overruled in what players to bring in, or who to hire as a head coach, in reality he had no more control over the team’s direction than he did in 2010, and all he did them was drive the coach around on the golf cart). But it’s another thing for him to want to interview almost everybody who has a pulse and is capable of standing upright on the sideline for three hours in a desperate search to find a head coach who will work in Riderville (Green Zone Football), which has quickly become The Worst Job In The CFL.
There is no certainty that Taman actually has the authority to hire the head coach, or that a new Rider head coach has the authority to hire his own assistants. That’s the real reason Scott Milanovich ditched the Riders last year, and why he wasn’t interested in taking this position this year (the ex-Als QB coach is now the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts).
Well, we have Hopson’s word on it, but we also have Hopson’s and the Riders’ track record on this, which illustrates that Hopson treats the Riders on-field operations as if he’s playing the role of GM on Madden11. Last season the new head coach was told he had to keep the assistant coaches that were around the previous season (one of whom was promptly dumped in a panic move when Greg Marshall was dumped).
Secondly, Taman is the definition of a lame duck. He has only a one-year contract. If he argued last year that he didn’t have the authority of a GM, then he should also (a) acknowledge that he was in part responsible for the mistakes that were made last year and not blame everything on Ken Miller, who’s not around to defend himself and (b) said he needs more than a season to turn things around – because the general manager is going to need more than a season to bring in his players and get them to work together.
The Roughriders knew since mid-August that they were looking for a head coach at the end of the season – even if by some miracle the Riders were able to salvage the season and get into the playoffs, Ken Miller was on the other side of 70 and wasn’t likely to return, and banjaxing the management of the 2011 season, he wasn’t likely to come back. So a good GM or GM wanna-be would have been making contingency plans to have a shortlist ready for the interview process, beginning between when the season ends and Grey Cup day.
Instead, if anything, Taman has ADDED names to the coaching candidacy list. The hiring process is going in reverse. And the Roughriders aren’t the only ones looking for head coaches. The BC Lions have refused to let defensive co-ordinator Mike Benevidies interview for the Riders’ job, because Wally Buono is going into his version of semi-retirement: he’s going to be GM only. According to the rumour mill, so is John Hufnagel in Calgary, which means they’re probably looking for a head coach (that’s where Dave Dickenson will end up).
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are supposedly interested in hiring Kent Austin, who’s now the head coach at Cornell. It’s quite unlikely Austin would leave an Ivy League football program for the CFL, but if there was any hint that Austin wanted out of Ithaca, the only question the Riders should be asking Austin is: How many zeroes do you want on your paycheque?
Hell, Austin could park his car in Jim Hopson’s spot. Hell, Austin could park his car ON Jim Hopson.
Instead the Riders will likely be the last team to actually hire someone, and by the time Taman gets done the interview process, the other CFL teams will have already set their coaching staffs. In the game of coaching musical chairs, the Riders will be the last ones standing.
When this process started I said the odds that Richie Hall would be head coach were greater than even. When he was the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, he was willing to have Danny Machocia, the former head coach who became the GM, call the plays and select who was going to start. That’s not what a good head coach does … but it’s the kind of ‘yes men’ that the Riders seem to attract, at least under Hopson. That’s why, last season, the Riders hired Greg Marshall instead of Milanovich as head coach.
And it may not be the only reason why Richie Hall is likely to be likely to be introduced, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, as the next Saskatchewan Roughrider head coach. But this will allow them to say, just as Jim Hopson said last year when Riders hired Taman to be the not-GM and Ken Miller to be the GM-that-wasn’t-a-GM, and just as Jim Hopson said last month when he promoted Taman from general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders to become the general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, that The Right Guy Was Here All Along.
Sure. If by that definition, you mean ‘the right fall guy.’
(Bonus points if you can name the real-world occupations of everybody listed in the title)