In the aftermath of watching their head coach and general manager bolt to the NFL less than two weeks after signing an extension, Saskatchewan suddenly finds itself in dire need of a new coach.
As part of their search, TSN’s Dave Naylor has reported that Saskatchewan reached out to the Redblacks organization for permission to interview offensive coordinator Jamie Elizondo. A request which Ottawa denied.
The @sskroughriders requested to interview Ottawa OC Jamie Elizondo for vacant HC position but permission denied. Elizondo previously interviewed for openings in B.C. and Tor in December, so issue appears to have been the calendar. #CFL #Riders
— David William Naylor (@TSNDaveNaylor) January 19, 2019
While some will be quick to criticize the Redblacks for “holding Elizondo back,” from Ottawa’s perspective, the denial makes complete sense.
To put it as bluntly as possible, why should the Redblacks be punished for Saskatchewan’s miscue? If Saskatchewan had simply worded the extension better, including a clause in which Chris Jones only could have left for the NFL for a head coaching position, they wouldn’t be in their current predicament.
Furthermore, those who say that the Redblacks are doing Elizondo wrong by denying him this opportunity are choosing to ignore or are unaware of the fact that Ottawa let Elizondo interview for head coaching positions with both Toronto and BC earlier this off-season.
The reality is, at this point in the off-season, the Redblacks can ill afford to lose Elizondo as it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. If he left, Ottawa would be without the conductor of an offence that has morphed into one of the league’s most dangerous over the past three seasons.
Not to mention the fact that pending free agent quarterback Trevor Harris likes Elizondo and his scheme. Their chemistry dates all the way back to their time with the Argos. Keeping Elizondo in the fold doesn’t ensure Harris re-signs in the nation’s capital but it sure doesn’t hurt either. Harris is Ottawa’s best player at the game’s most important position, from an organizational standpoint it makes sense to do anything possible to placate him.
Finally, most teams have their staffs set by Christmas or New Year’s. At this point, if the Redblacks lost Elizondo they’d be searching for a new offensive coordinator in a market that’s already been picked bare.
Ottawa didn’t deny Jamie Elizondo an opportunity to interview for the Saskatchewan position out of spite or pettiness, but rather practically. Two weeks out from free agency, Elizondo would know Ottawa’s plan of attack and key targets. He’s also well liked by the star quarterback they’re hoping to hammer out an extension with.
Elizondo will have other opportunities and as they have in the past, Ottawa won’t stand in the way. But this time, keeping him off limits is just good business sense.