Former Redblacks assistant Greg Knox hired as York defensive coordinator

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

York University has hired former CFL player and assistant coach Greg Knox as their new defensive coordinator.

Knox most recently served as defensive backs coach for the Ottawa Redblacks in 2021, enduring a difficult season in which the team allowed the most points per game through the air of any CFL team and finished second worst in passing yards allowed per game. He left the team the following offseason to pursue a job outside of football.

“Greg is one of the most experienced defensive coaches in Canada and considered by many a defensive expert,” head coach Dexter Janke said in a statement. “His lived experience in winning environments as a player and coach is an immeasurable asset to our program. The most valuable variable in hiring Greg is his commitment to mentoring coaches and players. Greg’s genuine approach as a teacher, leveraging the game of football to teach our student-athletes valuable life lessons aligns greatly with our commitment to excellence.

“We expect our defence will have an aggressive style of play. This will happen by developing a strong understanding of their role responsibilities, and also understanding how the offensive side of the ball approaches the game. This style of play combined with a strong understanding of situational football will make all areas of our team better.”

Knox arrived in Ottawa after a stellar career coaching at the Canadian university level, including as the defensive coordinator at the University of Alberta in 2019. Prior to that, Knox served as the defensive coordinator for the McMaster University Marauders and helped them reach three Vanier Cups, including winning a national championship in 2011. He also spent one season as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive backs coach in 2015.

“Greg has been a successful university student-athlete, professional athlete, professional business operator and extremely successful coach,” York athletic director Alex Dominato said as part of the announcement. “His care, passion and knowledge is evident and I look forward to seeing him coach and mentor our young men to new heights on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. We are going places we have not been to under this new foundation of leadership.”

Knox spent parts of three seasons as head coach at McMaster. He was fired in October 2018 after being summoned to a meeting with the university’s human resources department. That followed an investigation by the school into an incident with an official in a game exactly one month before the day of his release. Details of that interaction have not been released or explained.

During his playing days, Knox played university football with the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks, winning a Vanier Cup in 1991. Knox won the Grey Cup with the Stampeders in 1992 and 1998 and was a two-time CFL all-star.

York has gone 1-21 since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with the lone victory coming by forfeiture. The team hasn’t made an OUA playoff appearance since 2004, boasting six winless seasons over that timeframe.