Riders’ president Craig Reynolds says team knows fans are frustrated, commits to restoring confidence

Photo courtesy: Ted Pritchard/Rattleboxmultimedia.ca/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders fired its offensive coaching staff on Tuesday and the team’s president and CEO is hopeful that it will be enough to give Rider Nation its pound of flesh following a disappointing season.

“We understand the frustration of the fans. We didn’t live up to those expectations. The expectations were high this year and that’s a good thing. We want those expectations to be high and we didn’t live up to them,” said Reynolds.

“I know we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got a lot of work to restore fans’ confidence. We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure we’re doing the right things in the community. … We need to do more engagement with our fans and our season-ticket holders. There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us and we’re absolutely committed to doing that.”

Fans in Saskatchewan needed a sacrificial lamb and they got it when offensive coordinator Jason Maas was fired on Tuesday. The team also announced that receivers coach Travis Moore and offensive line coach and run game coordinator Stephen Sorrells wouldn’t have their contracts renewed.

The team had to send a clear message to the public acknowledging that the team failed to meet expectations this year and was starting to correct course. That’s hard to do when the head coach and general manager both keep their jobs, but Reynolds felt it was the right thing to do after reflecting on the group’s past success.

“A part of good process is taking the emotion out of it and to take a step back and have some perspective,” he said. “I think when we did that looked at the more recent success we’ve had with the current regime with Jeremy and Craig and back-to-back West Finals and a 4-1 start to the season, I think when you take the emotion out of it, we felt that the best decision was the decision we made.”

Reynolds indicated that the league’s operations cap “didn’t come into play” in the decision to keep O’Day and Dickenson aboard for 2023, though it’s worth noting that neither were offered contract extensions for 2024.

“There’s some things from a player personnel perspective, certain position groups, I know Jeremy wants to upgrade,” Reynolds said. “There’s been lots of conversations around the offensive line, so that comes to mind.”

“There’s lots of decisions to be made and I entrust Jeremy to do that and he knows best what’s to be done. I think when you have somebody in-house who’s been through the year that we just went through, he understands best what needs to be done, and how he’ll go about to fix that.”

Reynolds has to answer to the team’s fans but also its board of directors. If they had wanted O’Day or Dickenson gone, they both would’ve been shown the door. Lucky for both of them, Maas, Sorrells, and Moore have taken the fall for both.

If the Riders have another year like this in 2023 with both of their contracts expiring, there’s a pretty good chance their luck will run out.

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