Former Riders GM Taman gave Chamblin too much leeway

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Riders head coach Corey Chamblin was fired Sunday night. Photo by Johany Jutras.

As far as any of us can ascertain, nobody around the Canadian Football League dislikes Brendan Taman.

How could you dislike a humble, hard-working, home-town, ego-less young man who spent years in low-profile roles until he got his dream job as general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, won a Grey Cup on home soil in 2013 and celebrated by smiling a lot and visiting his family?

All of that is meaningless, of course, when his boss had to make a business decision. Roughriders president Craig Reynolds, in his first year on the job, decided the best solution for helping his winless team improve was to fire Taman, Saskatchewan’s general manager and vice-president of football operations, along with head coach Corey Chamblin.

Firing Chamblin was unavoidable.

In his fourth season as Saskatchewan’s head coach, less than two years after winning a Grey Cup, Chamblin was overtaken by hubris and stubbornness. He added the role of defensive co-ordinator and refused to accept blame for losses caused by his inexplicable strategies and inability to design a defence capable of stopping anybody.

In Saskatchewan’s ninth straight defeat, a 35-13 loss against the home-town Ottawa Redblacks, it actually looked like Chamblin was trying to get fired as he yanked aspiring quarterback Brett Smith and refused to re-insert him despite the struggles of his incompetent replacement, Tino Sunseri.

Goodbye, Chamblin. Goodbye, $750,000, which it cost the wealthy, community-owned franchise to buy out the remaining 2 1/2 years of his contract.

According to Reynolds, Taman had actually agreed to fire his hand-picked coach following Sunday’s debacle. That decision was unanimous. Reynolds went much further, to the the surprise of almost everyone, and also fired Taman. That costs the Riders at least another $750,000. The cost of those buyouts should never deter Reynolds from doing what he believes is right.

Reynolds said the team wanted to achieve “sustained success” and he had “concerns” about the “overall leadership.’’ That means Reynolds didn’t believe Taman could control his out-of-control coach and the general manager wasn’t the best person to build a roster that could annually vie for the Grey Cup.

Taman’s fatal flaw was allowing Chamblin too much leeway, but judging by some of the newer talent on the team — led by Smith, slotback Nic Demski, receiver Namaan Roosevelt, defensive back Junior Mertile and punter Ray Early — the former GM was capable of finding players, even though the former coach was reluctant to deploy some of them.

The Roughriders have named two interim replacements, elevating assistant general manager Jeremy O’Day into Taman’s old job and making special-teams co-ordinator Bob Dyce the interim head coach. They would both like to earn those positions permanently and they’re pretty good guys, but that still doesn’t matter if the team doesn’t start winning.

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.