Cortez out of running for Riders job

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

George Cortez won't be the next head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator has pulled out of the running for the position vacated by Kent Austin, a source close to the Riders told the Sun last night.

Cortez interviewed for the job during the weekend with Saskatchewan general manager Eric Tillman, and was considered one of the front-runners for the job.

Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, who granted permission for the interview, preferred to wait until hearing officially before expressing his relief in retaining Cortez.

"Sooner the better," Hufnagel said. "I will be relieved when Eric makes the announcement that George is no longer a candidate. I will sleep better.

"Eric called me and asked for permission and I gave it to him. It was a great opportunity for George. What I know is they had a long discussion and that's as far as it went.

"I hope to hear officially that George is no longer being considered."

Cortez declined comment on the matter, but he was back at the Stamps' office yesterday after meeting with Tillman.

Keeping Cortez is beneficial to the Stamps. Under Cortez last season, quarterback Henry Burris set career highs for yardage and touchdown passes, despite missing four games.

Whoever becomes the new Riders head coach will have a huge challenge.

Austin took over the team last winter and led the club to its third Grey Cup in his rookie season as a head man. The former Riders QB then became offensive co-ordinator with his alma mater, Ole Miss.

Expectations have certainly risen due to a 12-6 season in which the Riders hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1988.


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