What is Corey Chamblin’s Riders legacy?

Corey Chamblin is the newest member of an exclusive club of Saskatchewan Roughriders coaches that also includes Eagle Keys, John Gregory and Kent Austin.

Each won a Grey Cup as head coach of the community-owned franchise — Keys in 1966, Gregory in 1989, Austin (who was the winning quarterback on the ’89 team) in 2007 and Chamblin in 2013, a championship dubbed the greatest moment in Roughriders history because they won at home.

A celebrated coach can’t just distance himself from something like that, which Chamblin has been trying to do in recent interviews with Mike Hogan of cfl.ca and Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post.

Now an assistant head coach and defensive co-ordinator with the Toronto Argonauts, Chamblin’s new team is visiting Saskatchewan for a CFL game Saturday. Chamblin, when being dutifully quizzed about his return to Saskatchewan, noted there are only four Riders remaining from that 2013 squad, the team is playing in a brand-new stadium and, besides, that Grey Cup was just a part of history hardly worth considering.

Sorry, Corey; nobody is that stoic.

He can downplay it all he wants, but like his predecessors Chamblin is linked to Saskatchewan forever because of their accomplishments. That’s their legacy.

Keys and Austin chose to leave the Roughriders on their own volition, but Gregory and Chamblin were fired about a season-and-a-half after their respective victories, partly because their teams struggled without their injured, starting quarterbacks — Austin and Darian Durant. The knock on Gregory and Chamblin upon their dismissals was they were being too stubborn, too loyal to some of the aging veterans on the squad.

Of course those criticisms won’t sit well with any coach because it’s really their unshakeable belief in their players and themselves that made them successful in the first place.

Indeed, Chamblin projected a cockiness, which he discusses and describes as self-confidence, that manifested itself in his decisions to stick with several players (including talented and unpredictable defensive back Dwight Anderson) after they embarrassed the team with a late-night fight at a nightclub. To make sure he wasn’t being undermined, Chamblin eventually winnowed his coaching staff of veteran assistants like George Cortez and Richie Hall, guys whose philosophies may have challenged the head coach’s theories and who were occasionally viewed as possible successors.

When Chamblin stubbornly stuck during a humiliating 2015 mid-season loss in Ottawa with a backup quarterback named Tino Sunseri, a pivot who had shown no ability to handle a CFL offence, Riders president Craig Reynolds decided to dump Chamblin. General manager Brendan Taman, whose “all-in” strategy to acquire and pay big-name talent for the home-town Grey Cup campaign, also got fired. With 2 1/2 years remaining on their contracts, the Roughriders likely paid $1.5 million in severance; that payout perhaps would make the club a little shy about replacing the new guy in charge, Chris Jones, and his reported $700,000 annual salary.

Keys, Gregory and Austin re-surfaced as head coaches with other CFL teams. Chamblin is the only member of the legendary quartet whose next CFL job came as an assistant coach.

Chamblin is likely bitter he wasn’t given an opportunity to rebuild the Roughriders, or so far given an opportunity to construct another Grey Cup winner as a head coach, but he should certainly be proud of what he accomplished during his 3 1/2 seasons in Saskatchewan. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those emotions.

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