The Ottawa Redblacks are none too happy that Jaime Elizondo abruptly quit, sending out a short press release that was deliciously salty.
“Elizondo quits on REDBLACKS” the title reads, accompanied by one sentence saying Elizondo had left to pursue other opportunities (which turned out to be joining Marc Trestman’s staff with Tampa’s XFL franchise).
Back in January, the Redblacks blocked Elizondo from interviewing for the recently vacated head coaching gig in Saskatchewan. The Riders needed a head coach because Chris Jones left to take a job with the Cleveland Browns.
It was a selfish move then, but it looks downright moronic now.
We heard a lot of reasons for why Ottawa just couldn’t let Elizondo interview, two of the main ones being that it was too late in the off-season — it was January — and that it could start a chain reaction that would end with Trevor Harris leaving Ottawa for Saskatchewan.
Well, late or not, it’s now April and the Redblacks need to find a new offensive coordinator. April, as we should all know, is much later than January. And, quite frankly, I don’t think Elizondo was even remotely close to being a front runner for the job. Paul LaPolice was likely the guy they really wanted with Craig Dickenson, the guy they eventually hired, being a close second. In a league where Kavis Reed can fail upwards into a general manager position, I guess anything is possible, but I sincerely doubt that there was any danger in Ottawa losing Elizondo if they let him interview with the Riders.
As for losing Trevor Harris… well…
Harris didn’t land in Saskatchewan, but he did land in Edmonton and in an interview with Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun, Harris basically said that Ottawa had no intention of bringing him back, going so far as to point out that his lone conversation this off-season with Redblacks general manager Marcel Desjardins came 30 minutes before free agency opened.
Ottawa was clearly moving on from Harris and whether Elizondo stayed or not clearly had no impact on that decision.
It looks like all Ottawa did was piss off their incumbent offensive coordinator and give him a reason to look for an out. That out came in the form of the XFL. The beauty of this move for Elizondo is that Tampa’s XFL team doesn’t have to ask for permission to take Elizondo, and there is nothing Ottawa can do to stop him from taking a new gig in another league that has no arrangement, formal or otherwise, with the CFL.
I’m not saying this move is a giant middle finger to the “classy” Redblacks organization, but it sure looks like one.
Even if losing a coach this late in the game sucks — and it does, just ask the 2016 Hamilton Tiger-Cats — the Redblacks will have someone in place as their OC in 2019. One thing these Redblacks will have to deal with that those Ticats did not was the new cap on football ops, and while that won’t stop Ottawa from finding someone it will make it more difficult to find a quality replacement.
You also have to wonder how all these exits will effect a team that looked set to be the dominant franchise in the East Division for the next few years.
With the mass exodus of players, and now Elizondo moving on a month before the draft and less than two months before training camp opens, Ottawa becomes just as confounding as the other teams in the East — except for Hamilton… maybe — and they have no one to blame but themselves.
They could have taken care of this in January, or at least avoided this type of ugly divorce in April, but they acted in their own self interest and it cost them, dearly, three months later.
The Redblacks can write all the terse press releases they want, but it’s not Elizondo they should be mad at.