Fear of faulty headsets keeps Riders OC Jason Maas rooted to the sidelines

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com

Jason Maas has always marched to the beat of his own drum.

That hasn’t changed in his time as offensive coordinator with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

While the vast majority of play-callers prefer the cozy and quiet confines of a booth, that wouldn’t fit with Maas’s personality.

He sticks with the old school sideline presence.

Global Regina’s Taylor Shire recently asked why Maas dares to be different even with something like play-calling.

Instead of supplying the usual well-crafted, boring explanation that most coaches would, the ex-quarterback gives the straight goods in a way that only Jason Maas can.

“I’ve never been up in the booth so I can’t really answer that to say whether I like being up there or down,” said Maas.

“I tried to go up my very first game ever coordinating when I was in Ottawa and we were playing against Hamilton and our headsets went down right away and I was like ‘I’m done with this. I’ll go down on the field.’ And I’ve been down ever since.”

What ? The guy who once entertained us all by smashing a headset on live television got frustrated with technology?

So there you have it. A simple guy with a simple answer.

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, even for Jason Maas.

“I think the advent of being able to watch the video on the sidelines with the quarterbacks, being able to see the plays (on the iPads), talk to players, that’s one of my strengths and something I really enjoy and so I just prefer to just stay on the sideline.”

The recent headset fiasco in the B.C.-Hamilton game that might’ve cost the Lions their last real shot at the playoffs has only added certainty to Maas’s choice to do his own thing and stay close to the action.

“That’s what I experienced in my first time ever coordinating and I just thought why would I waste that opportunity, ever?” he explained.

“That would be a hard thing to do and overcome. And I think if you trust the guy up top with the eyes that he’s giving you good information and I do trust (running backs coach) Rob (Payne) so I do have a good relationship there and in years previous with Jordan (Maksymic), who’s the OC in BC.”

It should be noted that Wally Buono defied convention after his rookie head coaching season in Calgary by ditching the headset all together, suggesting it was cluttering up his thinking.

Five Grey Cups and the most wins ever in CFL history for Wally seems to have made going against the grain do-able.

Maas has some work to do before being compared too much to Wally Buono as a coach but just like Wally, he’ll do it his way.

“I’d prefer to be able to talk to a quarterback face to face when things aren’t going well or when they are going well,” Maas said. “If you really have to talk to a player, you’re able to do that face to face. I think a little bit of that goes a long ways.”

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.