Riders hunting for GM, head coach and much more talent

LCF_8685The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ second-stringers proved they’re better than the Montreal Alouettes’ second-stringers.

Now both CFL teams can get started on what really matters — an offseason of overhauling their franchises.

The Alouettes need a head coach and a starting quarterback. Jim Popp, the only general manager the Alouettes have known since their re-birth in 1996, has to remove himself from the sidelines, dump the notion that he can coach and focus on his strength, which is stockpiling his roster with players. There’s even a possibility Popp won’t return to Montreal in 2016, which seems ludicrous until you consider the Roughriders might like having him as their new general manager. Popp’s CFL career began in 1992, when he was hired as a receivers coach before morphing into a talent evaluator…with the Roughriders.

And the Roughriders need talent!

Their team has grown old. And expensive. And horrible.

A 30-24 overtime victory by the visitors on Sunday in Montreal, which completed the CFL’s regular season, left the Roughriders with a 3-15 record, their worst campaign since going 3-15 in 1999. Neither team deployed many starters, choosing instead to assess players who could help them get back into the CFL postseason next year.

Riders backup quarterback Brett Smith, receivers Ryan Smith and Naaman Roosevelt, kicker Tyler Crapigna, tailback Anthony Allen, defensive ends Markus White and John Chick , defensive back Tyree Hollins and linebacker Jeff Knox Jr. showed they can play. But exactly who did they show?

The Roughriders haven’t had a head coach or general manager since firing Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman midway through the season. Bob Dyce, Saskatchewan’s special teams co-ordinator, became the interim head coach. Jeremy O’Day, the assistant general manager, became the interim general manager. The team has been in limbo since then.

Craig Reynolds, the Riders’ first-year president/CEO, has hopefully been compiling a list of potential candidates who should be gauged for their interest in becoming Saskatchewan’s new general manager.

Popp is a starting point, John Hufnagel already said he’s not leaving Calgary, Kent Austin seems ordained to stay in Hamilton, John Murphy is a great talent evaluator for Calgary but may not be GM material, Rick Campbell has established a strong franchise in Ottawa, Danny McManus could become Winnipeg’s GM, or perhaps O’Day is the best candidate.

All need to be asked. There are others whose names will appear until Reynolds announces his choice. Saskatchewan’s new general manager will then have to hire a head coach, so more names will be tossed around regarding that job. It’s a long, important process that could have, should have, been started months ago, while the team was losing its first nine games and changes grew imminent.

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.