Six candidates to be the next head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are in the market for a new head coach following Monday’s announcement that Craig Dickenson won’t be retained for 2024.

Jeremy O’Day, the team’s general manager and vice president of football operations, was handed a three-year contract extension, while Dickenson’s entire coaching staff has been allowed to walk away following the expiration of their deals. Saskatchewan’s new bench boss will be given the autonomy to hire their own assistants to try to get the team back into the postseason following a two-year absence.

Below are six candidates who could be in the running for the position. They are listed alphabetically by last name.

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Pete Costanza

The 54-year-old has won more Grey Cups than anyone else in the recent history of the CFL, collecting three rings as the receivers coach of the Calgary Stampeders, one as the running backs coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and one as the passing game coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts.

The native of Hollywood, Fla. turned down Saskatchewan’s offer to become their offensive coordinator this past off-season and his star has only risen since as Toronto’s reached new heights with Chad Kelly under centre in 2023. If the Riders want to boost their offence next season, Costanza could be a great fit in Riderville.

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Mark Kilam

The native of Lethbridge, Alta. has been with the Calgary Stampeders for almost two decades and has served as the team’s special teams coordinator and assistant head coach since 2019. Kilam has won three Grey Cups with the club, the most recent of which came in 2018 when Calgary defeated the Ottawa Redblacks at Commonwealth Stadium.

The 44-year-old has been a candidate for multiple head coaching vacancies in recent years and been close to being hired on multiple occasions. It seems like a matter of when (not if) Kilam will eventually get an opportunity to become a head coach in the CFL and it wouldn’t be a surprise for Saskatchewan to consider him for their opening.

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Corey Mace

The 37-year-old won his first Grey Cup as a coach with the Calgary Stampeders in 2018 and his second as the defensive coordinator with the Toronto Argonauts this past season. Mace interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Ottawa Redblacks last off-season and was a finalist for the position, which ultimately went to Bob Dyce.

The native of Port Moody, B.C. is considered a rising star in CFL coaching circles and has clearly done a great job with Toronto this season as the club set a new regular season record with 15 wins. If Saskatchewan is looking for a young head coaching candidate who will help secure the defensive side of the ball, Mace could be their guy.

Photo courtesy: David Friedrich/B.C. Lions

Jordan Maksymic

One could argue that there’s no better offensive mind working in the CFL today than this native of St. Albert, Alta., who spent the better part of a decade paying his dues as an assistant with the Edmonton Elks and Ottawa Redblacks before becoming the offensive coordinator of the B.C. Lions in 2020.

The 36-year-old helped Nathan Rourke take the CFL by storm in 2022 and managed to continue that success following the transition to Vernon Adams Jr., who threw for a career-high 4,769 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2023. The CFL is a passing league and Maksymic’s unit averaged 315.1 yards through the air per game this season, which was almost 25 more than any other team in the league.

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

Scott Milanovich

The three-time Grey Cup champion cut his teeth as the offensive coordinator with the Montreal Alouettes under Marc Trestman before serving as the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 2012 to 2016. He left the team to become the quarterbacks coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, a role he held for three seasons, before returning to the CFL as the head coach of the Edmonton Elks in 2020.

The 50-year-old from Butler, Penn. never saw the field with Edmonton due to the cancellation of the CFL season and has since served as the quarterbacks coach of the Indianapolis Colts and offensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Milanovich has history with Saskatchewan franchise quarterback Trevor Harris, which could give him the inside track to this gig.

Photo: Michael Scraper/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Buck Pierce

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have been the class of the CFL for the past half-decade and their offensive coordinator has played a major role in that success. Pierce has helped Zach Collaros rekindle his career to win back-to-back Most Outstanding Player awards, while Brady Oliveira, Kenny Lawler, and Dalton Schoen has become some of the league’s top offensive threats.

The 41-year-old from Hutchinson, Kan. earned the respect of opponents around the CFL during his nine-year playing career, during which he developed a reputation for being one of the league’s toughest competitors. This has clearly transferred to the booth where Pierce has proven he’s capable of game-planning and calling plays as well as anyone.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.