November 29, 2008
The replacementsEskimo brass have their work cut out for them naming Maciocia's successor
Who will make the most convincing argument?
When it comes to picking the Edmonton Eskimos next head coach, the closing argument from each candidate will go a long way to determining the winner.
Each of the six names on the Green and Gold's list of possible replacements for Danny Maciocia brings undeniable risk but intriguing upside.
Here is a breakdown of the six candidates, weighing the pros and cons.
1. RICHIE HALL, SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS DEF. CO-ORDINATOR
First reported in the Eskimos Insider blog at edmontonsun.com yesterday morning, Hall is interested in becoming the Esks' next bench boss.
"Very much so," said Hall. "I think they're a very respected, very classy organization and good football team."
PRO: The Riders' entire starting linebacking unit - Maurice Lloyd, Anton McKenzie and Sean Lucas - are set to be free agents this winter. Lloyd and McKenzie were named 2008 CFL all-stars earlier this month. And Lucas is considered an emerging stud at SAM-linebacker, a position the Esks would need to fill if Shannon Garrett retires.
If Hall could bring a couple of those stars with him to Edmonton, he immediately emerges as a front-runner.
"I think any time a coach moves from one place to another, there is always that carry-over of players or staff," admitted Hall.
Another benefit for Hall is the fact the Rider defence gave up the fewest yards in the CFL this year (354).
CON: Hall has apparently had six interviews to be a head coach in the CFL - including Edmonton (2004), Winnipeg, Montreal (2007) and Toronto (this fall) - but hasn't succeeded. Why?
QUESTION: If Hall is the choice, does Gary Etcheverry - former Toronto head coach, current Rider defensive assistant and good friend of Noel Prefontaine's - join the Esks staff?
2. DOUG BERRY, FORMER WINNIPEG HEAD COACH
Wearing his politically correct hat, Berry was pretty quiet yesterday on the possibility of being Edmonton's 18th head coach.
"I am not going to comment," said Berry. But a source tells Sun Media that Berry is highly motivated to get back into coaching and prove he shouldn't have been fired in Winnipeg this fall.
PRO: Berry is very good friends with Maciocia, the Esks GM and director of football operations. As of yesterday afternoon, Maciocia hadn't spoken to Berry about the job, though.
CON: Will the Esks hire someone who was just punted out the door elsewhere?
QUESTION: If Berry is not hired as bench boss, would he be offered an assistant role on offence?
3. CHRIS JONES, CALGARY STAMPEDERS DEF. CO-ORDINATOR
An engaging person behind the scenes, Jones is the rising hotshot in the CFL coaching department.
PRO: Under Jones's guidance, the Stamps' defence gave up a league-low 21.5 points per game in the regular season before winning the Grey Cup this fall. Edmonton gave up 26.2 points per game.
Jones built that stellar defence this year with just two returning starters.
CON: Jones isn't tied to the Esks in any way, meaning Maciocia and Rick LeLacheur need to determine in a short time window if this can be a successful marriage.
QUESTION: If Jones is successful, will current Edmonton special teams co-ordinator Noel Thorpe remain to work with his former associate in Montreal (2002-07)?
4. NOEL THORPE, ESKS SPECIAL TEAMS CO-ORDINATOR & DEF. BACKS COACH
The only insider on the Green and Gold's current list of candidates to replace Maciocia, Thorpe is facing a stiff test.
PRO: The club knows what it's dealing with - professionally and personally - with Thorpe after seeing him work hard and keep his nose clean this year. That is a huge advantage. From 2003 to 2007, Thorpe worked closely with Jones to build the Alouettes' defensive unit. In those five years, Montreal ranked third in points allowed, second in passing yards allowed and second in interceptions in the CFL.
CON: Is Thorpe ready to be a head coach? Can he make the jump to the top position from his current spot?
QUESTION: If Thorpe is named the new coach, who handles special teams - which was a nightmare in 2007?
5. MIKE BENEVIDES, B.C. LIONS DEF. CO-ORDINATOR & LINEBACKERS COACH
Like Thorpe, Benevides is a Canadian in the running.
PRO: Nine years of CFL coaching experience, he was also Calgary's director of Canadian scouting to start the decade. The Toronto native has also learned from one of the masters of coaching - Wally Buono.
CON: While Benevides had the CFL's top defender - Cam Wake - this year, his B.C. defence gave up 25.4 points per game, nearly the same as Edmonton.
QUESTION: Would current Eskimo offensive co-ordinator Rick Worman remain to help Benevides if he's successful?
6. GREG MARSHALL, WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS DEF. CO-ORDINATOR & LINEBACKERS COACH
Living in the Edmonton area, this would be an easy transition.
PRO: Although Thorpe has spent the last year working with Maciocia, a source tells Sun Media the Esks GM knows Marshall the best on this list.
CON: Winnipeg's defence gave up more yards per game than Edmonton's in 2008. The Bombers also slipped this year in the points department, giving up 71 more points compared to the 2007 edition.
QUESTION: Will Maciocia and LeLacheur hire somebody who has been passed over before by more than one team?