Being stubborn is head coach’s biggest flaw

Brett Smith, Otha Foster

More and more, Corey Chamblin is becoming like some of the less-successful head coaches in recent Saskatchewan Roughriders history — Ray Jauch, Danny Barrett, Greg Marshall and, although he was one of my favourites, Cal Murphy.

Chamblin has a recent Grey Cup victory (2013) on his resume, but a common trait is what cost all those other coaches their jobs. With his Roughriders having lost six straight games to start the season, following a 30-5 drubbing by the home-town Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night, Chamblin’s status is being questioned. He can survive if he shakes that one, fatal flaw common to so many unsuccessful coaches:


Barrett was the first Roughriders coach to utter the mantra: “Trying the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results, is the definition of insanity.’’ Yet Barrett wouldn’t change his methods. He was stubbon. Acting like a father figure to a group of adolescents, Barrett never held his players accountable for anything, off the field or on the field, so they never became mature enough to develop into a successful football team. It was insane!

Marshall was a hard-ass, using the methods he had learned as a no-nonsense defensive co-ordinator and — quite the opposite of Barrett — held up his players as bad examples when they did something wrong. The players didn’t respond at all to Marshall.

Jauch insisted on playing his favourite players, including his son, which led to serious in-fighting on the roster because nobody can judge talent better than teammates. No cohesion, few victories.

Murphy was a legendary, long-time CFL coach and executive with more than a handful of Grey Cup rings. He had old-school methods and wouldn’t budge from them. After road games, even when the team had a bye, Murphy insisted his players return to Saskatchewan before heading out on much-needed days off. His refusal to change with the times led to disgruntled players, Murphy’s team to a 3-15 mark in 1999 and him out of coaching.

Chamblin is sticking to his guns. He wants to be Saskatchewan’s head coach while maintaining control over the defence.

He’s doing neither job well. His team is undisciplined — 17 penalties against Edmonton! — and he’s made so many questionable decisions as a sideline tactician that there isn’t enough space to chronicle them here.

On defence, his team has allowed the most points and forced only two measly turnovers in six games! Playing under new rules, CFL teams have returned nine interceptions for touchdowns this season, yet not one single Riders defensive back (Chamblin’s area of expertise) has picked off a pass.

Chamblin reminded media members and the fans that last year he basically handled both jobs — head coach and DC — while the team enjoyed some minimal late-season success. Even if Chamblin thinks last year was successful, it certainly isn’t working this year. He needs to change things, become less stubborn, before it’s too late to save his job.

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.