Ullrich: Ed Hervey gives the B.C. Lions hope

One more turn to the final page on the calendar. Suddenly, it’s almost Christmas. Just as suddenly, it’s realistic to think there might eventually be some nice new presents under the tree with the appointment of Ed Hervey as general manager of the B.C. Lions.

The move by Wally Buono to hand over control of the top job in football operations after 15 years means there’s about to be a new way of thinking with the CFL team, and of course not a moment too soon after last year’s 7-11 tire fire.

It will take years to see the results of it all. Some things will happen sooner. First up for Hervey will be to settle on player development staffers, plus an assessment of which players the Lions will want to keep before the onset of free agency. With the recent deletion of starting right tackle Kelvin Palmer and practice roster defensive lineman Andrew Hudson, there’s 22 on that list at present.

But what suddenly becomes worth scrutinizing is the list of free agents who could make it onto the street that are under the employ of the Edmonton Eskimos, the team Hervey constructed before he was fired last April.

That group of 37 players was almost all recruited by Hervey, making free agency a much more interesting proposition this year for the Lions. Under Buono, free agency was a place to only find complimentary pieces, something Lions fans only watched from the distance, much like Labour Day rivalry games or in the case of this year, post-season play.

Here’s the Edmonton list at present, understanding that the Eskimos and all other teams have until the morning of Feb. 13 to fend off interested outside parties.

Offence – OL David Beard, TE John Delahunt, FB Alexandre Dupuis, OL Joel Figueroa, QB James Franklin, RB CJ Gable, OL Danny Groulx, WR Vidal Hazelton, OL Colin Kelly, RB Pascal Lochard, RB Kendial Lawrence, LB Doug Parrish, OL Simeon Rottier, KR Jamill Smith, FB Levi Steinhauer, FB James Tuck, RB Travon Van, WR Derel Walker, WR Cory Watson, RB John White, WR Brandon Zylstra.

Defence – DB Johnny Adams, DT Euclid Cummings, DB Aaron Grymes, DB Forrest Hightower, LB Alex Hoffman-Ellis, DL Philip Hunt, LB Korey Jones, DB Neil King, LB Adam Konar, LB Kenny Ladler, S Cauchy Muamba, DB Garry Peters, LB JC Sherritt

Kickers – Hugh O’Neill, Sean Whyte, Swayze Waters.

OK, so that’s not quite a list of the next Grey Cup winner. What does stand out, aside from the fact the Eskimos have three ex-B.C. kickers and wondering whether White Rock’s Whyte would like to finally come home, is that almost all that group have ties to Hervey, who already has admitted he’ll look at free agency much differently than his legendary predecessor.

“When I took over (in Edmonton) we didn’t have draft picks. We were looking for role players. Coming into this situation, there may be a player or two in free agency that we have to reach out and get. Are we going to be active? My intent is to make the BC Lions a place that every free agent wants to come.” Hervey said.

Perfect. All David Braley has to do is build a fabulous indoor fieldhouse practice facility like the one adjacent to Commonwealth Stadium and the transition will be well underway.

Buono is not apparently prepared to stand pat on his end, especially if Mark Washington makes it past being a finalist for the head coaching job with the Montreal Alouettes this time; even if all his 2017 staff of assistants is still available. That might be the biggest positive of the entire off-season if that comes to fruition, if you subscribe to the notion that coaching, not talent, held this team back last season.

Will Hervey and Buono play nice and get along? Jeff Tedford, back to making millions again at Fresno State, and Mike Benevides would be surprised to see the change in approach of Buono in the recent past. Believe it or not, but the man has mellowed. This marriage absolutely has a chance to work considering it only is now guaranteed to last less than a year.

Buono’s biggest parting gift might be if he can demonstrate to Hervey that the few folks who still cover his new team on a regular basis aren’t really a bunch of nitwits and some of his trademark openness rubs off and remains part of the culture.

But much more is now possible with the Lions now that they are in the hands of someone who has demonstrated a willingness to play like every other GM in the CFL sandbox. Imagine, just because it’s almost Christmas, if the Eskimos decided to re-sign a promising talent like Franklin and put Mike Reilly on the open market. Laughable, perhaps, but that suggestion was actually floated during last season.

It was the 2013 Reilly trade that cemented Buono’s opinion of Hervey as a guy who isn’t afraid to think outside the box. That move came just before Hervey’s initial foray into free agency that year, when he signed Odell Willis four minutes after he became eligible, which also earned the rookie GM his first CFL fine.

However, it’s Hervey’s eye for talent that is most appetizing and gives the Lions their best reason to think an on-field turnaround is possible. Off the field? That’s still on Braley. Though Hervey’s report card from the Canadian college draft isn’t flattering, owing in part to the absence of selections initially, you can’t help but acknowledge the list of unpolished import gems who have been developed in Edmonton.

It’s a list that includes Walker, Zylstra, Grymes and Ladler, all pending free agents and players who could help if it works under the cap. Sure, all of them could again try their luck to make it through the NFL tryout meat-grinder this winter. But hey, remember where we are on the calendar. After a few weeks where it was fair to question if they were still even in the league, the Lions at least have a reason for hope once Hervey stepped from behind the backdrop at his unveiling this week.

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.
Lowell Ullrich
Lowell Ullrich
About Lowell Ullrich (173 Articles)
Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.

28 Comments on Ullrich: Ed Hervey gives the B.C. Lions hope

  1. Just saying // December 2, 2017 at 11:22 am //

    Will Hervey fire Wally?

  2. Will Wally fire Hervey?

  3. How is really in charge -Buono or Hervey ?

  4. Lancaster/Reed // December 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm //

    I think hervey could do a good job in BC. As he said previously, hes not a media type of GM ( no kidding ) , but the media spotlight in BC is a lot dimmer than in Edmonton, so he can just focus on the gm duties and leave wally to deal with the media. It could work out very well as he did sign some great players for edmonton.

  5. Coach Wally will report to GM Hervey.
    GM Hervey will report directly to Mr. Braley.

    • Lancaster/Reed // December 2, 2017 at 2:38 pm //

      Yeah, any other hierarchy would be nothing but trouble. Will hervey have to report to wally in 2019?

  6. No, my understanding he reports directly to Mr. Braley (not VP Wally).

  7. Lancaster Reed, to answer your post on other thread…
    I can see the Esks getting hit hard at FA because they has SO many injuries this year and SO many guys came in and played really well. Any of them that are FAs might be demanding more than the Esks can pay so some will look elsewhere. Another one I really liked, at least the one game I saw him lol, was RB LaDarius Perkins. Seemed like a good runner that has a low centre of gravity and is hard to bring down. Kept his legs going til he was down. But we have depth there too. Manny pissed me off this year for beaking off. I don’t like that crap. I HATE loudmouths and braggarts. Shut up and play. Don’t tell them how great you are, SHOW them. He is a FA and not sure he’ll be back. Guessing he will want more than we willing to pay (but with Wally not making that decision, could change). I’d love to get Walker from the Esks but then again, will he end up in the NFL? I hope we keep Travis. I eventually want him as our OC. Even without experience as an assistant, I am extremely confident in his intelligence and work ethic.

    • Lancaster/Reed // December 2, 2017 at 4:32 pm //

      Its hard not to like travis lulay. He just seems like a “ team first “ kind of player. Through every injury, he is on the sidelines at gametime doing what he can to help. That was one thing that soured me on durant. When he was injured he was back home rehabbing, rather than trying to help his backup on gameday.

  8. Sorry, you asked about 2019, not 2018. My understanding is that Wally will walk away from the BC Lions after the completion of 2018. Not sure if he will make himself available as a consultant or not.
    I’d be OK with keeping him as HC. He is a proven winner. Now if a Paul LaPolice becomes available, wow, that would excite me lol.

    • Lancaster/Reed // December 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm //

      Wally is a proven winner, but im not sure that after a few years away from coaching, that the game has passed him by.
      Ive always liked LaPolice. I think he was kind of screwed over by winnipeg after taking them to the grey cup, only to be dumped 8 games into the next season. 2-6 didnt help, but still…..

  9. Ullrich is not giving Paul Jones much credit as head scout.It will be interesting to see if Ed Hervey has an influence on the Esks free agent pool, and it should mean something to some players, I don’t expect there will be a Jones type departure as Hervey is an experienced GM and scout. Where Jones looked to scavenge through the Eskimos roster for whatever he could get. The Lions have a lot more talent than what the Riders had, mainly because Jones released pretty much everyone, talented or not. My prediction is Lions will improve a bit, but it will take a year to see a genuine difference, after all Wally is still there.

    • Torey Hunter is as important if not more than Paul Jones to the Esks scouting staff. Paul Jones was the Director of Player Personnel for 20 years and that includes the lean years. Torey Hunter was the scout that coached against Mike Reilly and recommended to Hervey that he trade for him. Torey Hunter is the scout that organizes and runs most of the tryout camps and we can fully expect Hervey to offer his friend a job at some point.

  10. Hervey won’t need to charter a plane to get all the FAs to BC but he may get one or two key pieces but the reverse is always true too, some guys we have will leave. Not sure why you always have such a strong need to trash Wally. He is still a great coach.

  11. Ed will make the first steal that will be critical and yet nobody will notice … Torey Hunter and maybe Malvin Hunter as well will move to the Lions. This will improve the Lions scouting and kill the Eskimos scouting network.

    Three years after the Lions will be much improved and the Esks will be withering. This year if healthy John White, Vidal Hazelton, Cory Watson and Kendial Lawrence on offense could possibly jump if healthy. On Defense Cauchy Muamba, Garry Peters, JC Sherritt and Euclid Cummings all could jump.

    Sherritt would be the biggest loss.

    • Lancaster/Reed // December 3, 2017 at 12:15 am //

      Did hervey bring Torey and Melvin to the esks, or were they already eskimo scouts when ed arrived? And didnt korey jones fill sheritts linebacker position after sherrit got injured? And play very well?

      • Ed rebuilt the Scouting Network and did hire both Torey and Melvin when he became the GM of the Esks. It was the first thing he did.

        Korey Jones started the year with the Riders, but the Esks picked him up once he was released. He played well when JC went down in game one, but the Esks run defense suffer without Sherritt who can tackle bigger backs by cutting their legs out from underneath them. Jones too was injured and sat on the six-game. He made it back near the end and played fairly well, but he has not been healthy and is not at the same level as Sherritt in his tackling. He is also on the FA list for the Eskimos.

        Hoffman-Ellis filled the void when both Sherritt and Jones went down and he was weak against the run. The six-game losing streak coincided with Hoffman-Ellis starting. IMHO he is not a CFL starter.

        The loss of Sherritt would mean the Esks would need to find a true tackling MLB that could play the run on bigger backs like Messam and Harris.

  12. Are you saying those guys will jump to BC tr just jump? Sherritt won’t go to BC. WE have Solly and Micah Awe. We are actually pretty deep at LB but I’d love to see Adam Konar go to BC. You older guys will remember his dad Kevin Konar.
    Personally, I don’t see it taking 3 years for us too be a contender. WE should have been this year but things just fell off the rails. We have many of the pieces right now. I feel O-line, JJ had a bad year and Offensive playbook all let us down this year. We will fix O-line and playbook. Sorry, beating around the bush here with ‘playbook” but trying to avoid names.

  13. Sherritt would be a great addition to any linebacking core, but he is not going anywhere, and I will bet my season tickets on the 49 yardline on that one. When he tore up his Achilles he didn’t head home to Spokane , he rehabbed in Edmonton to be around his teammates, my bet is ” Once an Eskimo, always an Eskimo” is the case here. I still don’t think that Paul Jones gets enough credit for the talent recruited, even in the lean years that Maciocia started there was talent here every spring, but Maciocia changed everything up and there was no continuity from year to year. And Jones regional scouts are every bit as important as poster suggests that they are, lets not forget that Ed Hervey is very good at what he does, I just hope we don’t get pillaged again.

    • JC Sherritt is actually a Strong Safety in college and could easily play WLB or event SLB. Ed and JC have a VERY strong relationship as it was Ed as a scout who brought JC into the CFL. JC did test Free Agency last time around and found he wasn’t getting the offers he had hoped for. Ed will give him the offer to start getting some of his guys in the fold, we will see if loyalty is worth more than money. JC was close to being ready to play by the end of the season and if anyone can come back strong from such an injury it will be JC. Hope you are right about the team loyalty winning over personal loyalty and money.

      Paul Jones sticks to scouting in the SEC and doesn’t even come up to Canada anymore. During the Kavis Reed, Richie Hall and Danny Maciocia eras Jones played less and less of a role. The Esks had almost no scouting and Hervey rebuilt the scouting network that had crumbled during these years. It is disingenuous to say there was talent was there during a 71-90-1 run over 8 years, because it was so good at least one of those three coaches would have been above .500

      • By Terry Jones …

        “First will be the hiring of a head scout to replace Hervey himself.

        “Unlike myself, being based out of Edmonton, the head scout will be U.S.-based,” said Hervey, who will keep Paul Jones, doing largely what he’s done over the years, as well as director of Canadian scouting Rob Ralph.

        The leading candidate for head scout, it is believed, is ex-Eskimo Torey Hunter, who has certainly earned the job by being largely responsible for the likes of Sherritt, quarterback Matt Nichols, cornerback Aaron Grimes and before that defensive lineman Greg Peach, all out of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, where weather conditions are not dramatically different from Edmonton’s.”

  14. Gotta agree with dave on this one Darren, can’t see JC going anywhere. He seems like the kind of guy who might even stay fir less money when he gets nearer to the end of his career. I live in Edmonton but still do not know Esks like I know Lions but just can’t see him going anywhere. One of those guys who you see in a different uniform and ask yourself, What’s wrong with this picture.
    As I said above, don’t think Esks will be pillaged by Hervey. Yes, some will go but some will come. Hervey also said, we have a good team that just needs a bit of tweaking.

    • Dave all GM’s have their guys and Hervey is no different … as I said Torey Hunter goes first and then HE recommends JC Sherritt who is loyal to both Hunter and Hervey … don’t forget Hunter was JC’s coach in college.

      Just saying there are lots of linkages to Sherritt, Grymes, etc. For the Esks sake I hope it doesn’t happen, but I suspect Sundy will be making changes in the offseason to put more of his stamp on the Esks. Sundy comes from a very successful group of scouts in his family and he worked with NY Jets and Als before Ottawa and Edmonton. He will bring his people in now and that means Torey Hunter could see the writing on the wall.

  15. Well, who knows. You could be right. One thing I think we can agree on for sure, it will be one of the most interesting off-seasons in the CFL for sure. And, we have not even thrown in the draft and free agent camps throughout the Excited States into the conversation. BTW, Grymes is another guy who would look good in Black & Orange.

  16. Matt Duckworth // December 4, 2017 at 12:13 pm //

    Wally Buono is part of the old boys club just like Kent Austin in Hamilton. Moving Austin out of the coaching job next Bob Young needs a new GM. Where Buono removed himself from GM to Coach only is one step where Hamilton needs to let go Kent Austin.

  17. Hervey makes BC better. Bombers will be last in the west.

  18. Edward Leslie // December 6, 2017 at 5:57 pm //

    It’s easy to figure out who found what players for the Eskimos. Paul Jones is responsible for the southern U.S. football hotbed, while Hervey covered the west.
    So Jones found James Franklin, Kenny Ladler, Derel Walker, Willie Jefferson,Kendiall Lawrence, Dexter McCoill and Ladarius Perkins. Hervey found Matt Nichols, JC Sherrit, Aaron Grymes, John White and Brandon Zylstra.

    • This is 100% wrong and well documented in local Edmonton media and on the CFL.ca site … James Franklin called Archie Manning for advice after going to camp with Detroit it was Manning who advised him to go to the CFL. He attended an Esks tryout camp in Nebraska and Chris Jones told him to go to the indoor league. It was Hervey that signed Franklin over his coach’s assessment.

      From cfl.ca The Long Read by Jeff Krever

      “When Franklin was released by the Lions, it was the first time in his football life he had no clear path. A conversation with Archie Manning is what led him north of the border …

      “I texted him, ‘hey Mr. Archie, I need to talk to you about something’,” said Franklin. “I called him and I was telling him the options that I had and he suggested the CFL.”

      Franklin tried out with the Bombers, Lions, Stampeders and Eskimos but never heard back. He attended another tryout with the Eskimos run by Chris Jones in Nebraska with only about 10 players and no other quarterbacks. Jones suggested further development with the indoor league.”

      It is also 100% documented in the Edmonton Sun that Torey Hunter who is the west scout and head scout and is credited with finding Derel Walker (Texas), Willie Jefferson (Texas), Terrance Bullitt (Texas), Dexter McCoill (California), Greg Peach (Washington), Matt Nichols (Washington and played for Hunter), JC Sherritt (Washington and played for Hunter), Mercy Matson (Idaho), Aaron Grymes (Idaho), Chris Edwards (Idaho/Michagan), John White (Utah/California) and Brandon Zylstra (From Minnesota, but lived in and attended try out in Arizona). Hunter is Hervey’s former teammate and friend who recommended Mike Reilly after coaching against him. This is all well documented.

      Paul Jones lives in Alabama and his range is Lousiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennesse, Georgia. Jones has found players like Milt Stegall, Fred Stamps, Jason Tucker, Rod Williams, Rod Davis, Ed Hervey, Elfird Payton, Chris Thompson, Marcus Howard, Rashad Jeanty, Duke Williams and Ladarius Perkins. Again well documented.

      Malvin Hunter lives in I believe South Carolina and has the South East to scout overlapping with Paul Jones.

      Mitch Matuska has the midwest, Jeff Hoffman has the northeast and Rob Ralph is the Canadian scout. All well documented.

      Hervey had the final decision on all contracts as the G.M. and took recommendations from scouts and coaches. It is disingenuous to say that a scout or a coach was responsible for a find as they worked as a team, but Torey Hunter has been very responsible for recommendations of many players of late for the Esks. He would be a massive loss to the Eskimos.

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