Ritchie down but not out

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

It may have been Dave Ritchie's best shot at taking over the reins of his own CFL team again.

But the job as head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders went to Kent Austin, instead, closing the one door that could have given the 68-year-old Ritchie another chance.

"I'd be lying to say I'm not disappointed," the former Blue Bomber boss said from Vancouver yesterday. "Anybody who gets rejected would feel bad."

Ritchie's relationship with Roughriders GM Eric Tillman goes back nearly 15 years, as the two turned the B.C. Lions into a Grey Cup champion in 1994.

And when Tillman called Ritchie, currently the Lions defensive coordinator, Tuesday night, he told him he was hiring the 43-year-old Austin, whom he's also known a long time.

Austin is a former offensive co-ordinator, which is where the Riders have been lacking. But age may have been a factor, too.

"I hope not," Ritchie said. "I'm the same age that these guys here play for. It seems like I relate to them pretty well. Just because you have a number that says a certain thing, doesn't mean that you're brain-dead.

Whipper-snappers

"You've got all these young whipper-snappers -- have they won 116 games?"

Ritchie posted about half those victories with Winnipeg from 1999-2004, when the Bombers fired him during the '04 season.

He also posted winning seasons in Montreal and B.C., but hasn't always seen eye-to-eye with his GMs.

"If you put my college and my pro won-loss record together, it's up there about 170-something victories," he said. "I might cause you a heartache here and there, but hey, I'm about trying to win."

While the Riders job may have been his best chance, Ritchie's certainly not giving up the idea of being a head man again.

"I was an assistant in Montreal, then I was a head coach.

"I was an assistant in Winnipeg, then I was a head coach. I was a head coach in B.C., now I'm an assistant. I was an assistant in Ottawa -- so is Ottawa coming back in the league? Maybe I can be a head coach (there)," he said, laughing.

"I still do have a sense of humour."


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