The rally cry by the Calgary Stampeders defensive players was heard throughout the city last fall. 'Bring back our coach' was the refrain and everyone -- including the new Stamps ownership group -- took notice of the campaign to keep Denny Creehan in the organization.
So the defensive co-ordinator got a promotion yesterday to assistant head coach under Tom Higgins, with a design for him to take over as head coach within the two seasons.
"It wasn't expected but it was sure nice when it happened," said Creehan, who's scouting the NCAA Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla.
"I really like this new ownership group. This is really exciting. They laid out a real nice proposal for me and I'm really looking forward to this. The exciting part of it all is I've been fast-tracked to be a head coach in the CFL. I'm really excited about that."
Although he's across the continent, Creehan got a great impression from the new owners in their first week in control.
In several lengthy phone conversations, John Forzani, Ted Hellard and Doug Mitchell made it clear they valued Creehan's efforts of 2004 and he wouldn't go unrewarded.
"Obviously, I'll still be the defensive co-ordinator but, according to Tom and Ted Hellard, I'll have additional duties, which would include some of the administrative duties a head coach would perform," Creehan said.
While Creehan and his son, Casey, the defensive line coach, were already signed for 2005, the rest of the assistant coaches will have their contracts run out Jan. 31.
Higgins will address the situations of offensive line coach Carl Brennan, assistant coach Craig Dickenson and secondary coach Mike Roach in the coming weeks.
Director of Canadian personnel Miles Gorrell is in the same situation.
"It was a tough go for them because when you get rid of the upper management, everybody's thinks, 'Now what about me?' " Higgins said. "That has to be addressed immediately but I believe there's people in place and they realize the amount of time we will spend to ensure all the coaches are given as much time as they need to sell themselves, to see if they do fit into what we have.
"There are quite a few coaches who will be staying from last year's staff. They might be re-arranged and given different titles but there is a nucleus and we have to make sure we go through the process and give them their opportunity to retain their positions."
Last season, Creehan's defensive scheme was applauded throughout the CFL as innovative and deadly for the 4-14 team.
Trouble was the Stamps offence didn't do enough to win and Creehan's boys were constantly on the field getting worn out.
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MEET TOM HIGGINS
* Native of Colonia, N.J.
* Wife Sharon, children Holly, Hillary, Thomas
* All-conference and all-American in football and wrestling at North Carolina State University
* Pro career started as a linebacker with the Calgary Stampeders in 1976
* Retired as a player in 1981 and took a coaching position at Calgary's Crescent Heights high school
* Coached the U of C Dinos from 1982-84
* Stamps assistant coach1985-93 when he served as special teams co-ordinator, offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach
* Joined the Eskimos in June '94 as assistant general manager
* Promoted to Eskimos GM in '98
* Took over as head coach June 18, 2001, compiling a 44-28 record in three seasons
* Led team to back-to-back Grey Cup appearances, including a win over Montreal in '03
* 2003 CFL coach of the year
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FROM THE TOP DOWN
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE -- Chairman John Forzani and vice-chairmen Ted Hellard and Doug Mitchell
SENIOR CONSULTANT TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE -- Stan Schwartz
INTERIM PRESIDENT -- Ted Hellard
SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, MARKETING, OPERATIONS -- Darrell Moir
SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT, FOOTBALL OPERATIONS -- Tom Higgins
GM IN CHARGE OF PLAYER PERSONNEL -- Jim Barker
HEAD COACH -- Tom Higgins
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH -- Denny Creehan