The Ottawa Redblacks did not have to look far to find their new head coach, taking the interim title off Bob Dyce and officially making him the third head coach in franchise history earlier this month.
Despite Dyce’s long history in the nation’s capital, having served as the team’s special teams coordinator since 2016, the 57-year-old does not believe his long tenure with the organization was the main reason for his hiring.
“It may have played a part but I certainly don’t think it played a big part,” Dyce told The Rod Pedersen Show this week. “I really believe (general manager) Shawn (Burke) did a really in-depth search. He wanted to make sure I was the best fit.”
“When you look at the list of candidates there are a lot of fantastic coaches in this league. You can say, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there for seven years’ but at the same time, Shawn and I have a very new relationship. We had to make sure the partnership, the working relationship, would work between the two of us.”
Dyce reportedly beat out Toronto Argonauts’ defensive coordinator Corey Mace and Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ defensive coordinator Mark Washington for the job following a preliminary round of interviews that included over a half-dozen candidates.
The veteran coach took over as Ottawa’s interim head coach following the team’s firing of Paul LaPolice in October. Dyce coached the final four games of the Redblacks’ 2022 season, leading the team to a 1-3 record amid signs of improvement.
While his long run in Ottawa as the team’s special teams coordinator was not the main reason he was given the job, his familiarity with the players and the city surely didn’t hurt his chances.
“I have a very good relationship with a lot of the players over there and have a great knowledge base of the city of Ottawa and their fans,” said Dyce.
It has been a rough few years for R-Nation, watching as the team fell from a Grey Cup appearance in 2018 to winning just 10 games over three seasons out of playoff contention. Getting the Redblacks back on track will take some work, something the new head coach is well aware of.
“We will discuss the parts that we have and the parts that we have to add to it to get where we want to be.”
Dyce is now tasked with building a coaching staff for the first time, something the Winnipeg native says has been a challenge due to the lack of movement league-wide.
“It is a challenge, especially a year like this when there isn’t a whole lot of transition in the league,” he said. “It’s progressing really well but there are some challenges to it.”
Despite being new to the role, Dyce knows what he’s looking for as he fills out his first coaching staff as head man.
“Make sure we get the right mix of great, experienced CFL coaches as well as some youth. It’s really important to get the right guys who can communicate well with players, be fantastic teachers and are obviously very knowledgeable about the Canadian Football League.”
Dyce also wants to add people to his staff that he has some familiarity with, something he did with the hiring of Khari Jones and Barron Miles as the team’s offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.
“I’m extremely ecstatic with the guys I’ve been able to hire as my coordinators, two guys I have great history with back in Saskatchewan,” Dyce said.
The history Dyce speaks of comes from when the Riders last won a Grey Cup back in 2013. Dyce, Jones and Miles were all members of the staff that saw Saskatchewan claim its fourth Grey Cup title in franchise history, with Dyce serving as the team’s special teams coordinator, Jones as quarterbacks coach and Miles as defensive backs coach.
“Khari I’ve known over 20 years and Barron, it’s well over 10. I’ve seen the success that they’ve had in the CFL and I’m ecstatic to get those guys.”
Dyce is also one of just two Canadian-born head coaches in the CFL right now, the other being Winnipeg’s Mike O’Shea, who recently signed a contract extension that will keep him in the Manitoba capital through the 2025 season.
Despite being the first Canadian head coach for an Ottawa CFL team since Ross Trimble led the Rough Riders from 1937 to 1945, Dyce does not see himself as a trailblazer.
“I don’t know that I necessarily blazed a trail,” he said. “I think it’s important that there’s a group of us who are somewhat successful so that young coaches out there can see that if they strive and work, they can reach the pinnacle of this great league.”
All in all, Dyce is just happy he is finally getting his chance and is thrilled to be doing it in Ottawa.
“I’m just ecstatic that Shawn and the ownership in Ottawa have faith in me to lead the team in 2023 and beyond.”