Ottawa Redblacks’ GM Shawn Burke says team will make right decision on next head coach

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Ottawa Redblacks’ general manager Shawn Burke is officially on the hunt for a new head coach after firing Paul LaPolice following a disappointing 3-11 start to the season and has promised that the organization will make the right hire.

“They have an imprint on the entire team and that doesn’t just include the players, that includes the coaching staff, the medical staff, the equipment staff, and obviously the partnership with myself. I’m excited to explore that. I’m not naive, I know it’s an important process. We’re gonna get this right, we’re not gonna sit here and guess,” Burke told the media in a press conference that was carried by TSN 1200.

“The coach is the leader of the organization. I put a plan together but the coach is who the players turn to daily and who has the most interaction with the players. We want to have a coach that can command that room, command that respect, and then there’s a bunch of other stuff that will go along with it.”

The Redblacks went 6-22 under two seasons with LaPolice at the helm and fans are growing impatient with the team’s lack of success. Burke declined to discuss how he intends to approach the hiring of a new head coach but he plans to undergo a thorough search before any decision is made.

LaPolice carried the dual role of head coach and offensive coordinator during his tenure in Ottawa, which led to speculation that he may have been stretched too thin. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had coaches in dual roles during Burke’s tenure with the team, but it appears as though he intends to hire someone to focus solely on being the head coach.

“I think sometimes it’s a little misleading with some teams in the NFL or CFL when someone has a title in name but they’re not necessarily the play-caller or whatnot. But I think the general role of the head coach is to be the head coach of the entire team and that’s going to be an important part of our process,” said Burke.

Burke is excited to see what interim head coach Bob Dyce can do with the team’s four remaining regular season games, though he is already familiar with the veteran assistant. If the Redblacks find a new gear under Dyce’s leadership it stands to reason that he could become the team’s permanent head coach for 2023.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an audition because I’ve seen his body of work. I’ve been here through this season and I’ve prepared against him in the past, so I think football is always an audition for everyone including myself. It’s all of us showing what we want to do to make this change to the Redblacks organization,” said Burke.

“I just expect Bob Dyce to be Bob Dyce. I’ve seen the consistency day in and day out. I see the passion he brings, the planning he brings, the buy-in he gets, and I’m excited to see that. When good people get opportunities be it this way or a different way, you’re excited to see how they run with it, so I think it’s well-deserved and I’m excited to see the next four games.”

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.