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Riders coaching search reaches fork in the road

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It’s starting to feel like the Riders search for a new head coach might not end up taking all that long.

When Chris Jones vacated the position and Jeremy O’Day took over as vice president of football operations and general manager, the instant runaway favourite to become the team’s next head coach was Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice. The two have a history and a working relationship that seemed like a slam dunk.

Just one thing stood in their way, LaPolice’s current employer.

We learned recently that the Bombers decided that they weren’t going to grant LaPolice permission to talk to the Riders about their head coach opening. There’s strong opinions on both sides on whether Winnipeg did the right thing here, but either way, they’ll have to live with the consequences of the decision going forward if there are any.

One possible solution floated by CJME’s Jamie Nye was why don’t the teams make a trade? Much like the Oakland Raiders trading Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay all those years ago. While extremely rare, if unheard of in the CFL, it’s not the worst idea. If LaPolice is truly who the Riders want, then the Bombers could benefit by getting something out of the deal now. It also helps them avoid losing him possibly for nothing in the offseason if O’Day is willing to basically put a place holder in place for the 2019 season. Sounds like an all around win.

It’s fun speculation, and I’m all for fun and chaos, but I don’t see it happening.

So, where do the Riders go from here? There’s probably two paths they could take. One feels like the most likely at this time and is pretty boring. The other is fun and would bring something different to Saskatchewan.

Right now, it looks like the easiest way out for O’Day is to see if Craig Dickenson is interested in basically giving head coaching a try. He’s a respected special teams coordinator that’s been around the CFL forever, almost Bob Dyce like in that regard. Dyce took over for Corey Chamblin in 2015.

The part that people are unsure about when it comes to Dickenson is whether it’s a gig he wants or not. Back when Dickenson was with the Riders under Chamblin, there was a whole rigamarole over Chamblin asking his coaches to join him sooner in the offseason than usual. It’s believed Dickenson didn’t want to as he enjoyed his snowboarding instruction winter job. So, would he be interested in being a head coach permanently? Hard to say. He could possibly be convinced to run the ship until next winter and then graciously step aside and O’Day is free to go after who he wants with the staff they want or perhaps he decides he actually enjoys being the bench boss and sticks around (assuming things go ok on the field). Defensive backs coach Jason Shivers gets promoted to defensive coordinator and we all move on basically as status quo as possible.

The other option? Former Ticats defensive coordinator and long time NFL veteran coach Jerry Glanville.

At this point in his career, you get the feeling that Glanville is here for a good time, not a long time. So, it’s possible he may be willing to work with the staff that’s already in place. It might mean some tweaks to the defence, but Hamilton’s defence was pretty good last year too, perhaps a mesh of him and Shivers could work out quite well. Much like Chamblin and Richie Hall balanced each other out.

Perhaps Glanville thought to himself after the Ticats visit to Regina that this would be a cool place to be. Something he’d like to experience before he retires? Who knows?

This is if O’Day even has any interest.

For what I do, I’d love Glanville because he seems like a character and that would make him a superstar in Rider-mad Saskatchewan and I’m sure he would provide all of us with plenty of entertainment (and content.)

Many are still floating Marc Trestman out there, but who knows if he wants to coach right now. I also think he’s a “closer,” meaning you bring him in to take your team over the top. Without an established quarterback and plenty of other questions, the Riders are not in that position.

No matter which way O’Day decides to go, it feels like a short term solution is his only way out and that decision should be made shortly.

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About the author

Joel Gasson

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.

By Joel Gasson

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