The M & M question

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Will Ricky Ray determine the 17th head coach of the Eskimos?

If Danny Maciocia can deliver the quarterback back to Edmonton at the end of the NFL season, is the job his?

If not, will the Eskimos go for the other guy and have two Greg Marshalls head coaching in the CFL?

Will Maciocia and Marshall make a pact that whoever gets the job, the other will work with him? Or will that be impossible and the loser have to move on?

Or will they both be gone? Will Ottawa hire one and Winnipeg or Toronto hire the other before the Eskimos complete their "search the universe of coaching" to see who is available?

TOUGH CHOICES

If the players had to pick from the two, who would they choose? Will they have a say?

Will new owners in Calgary fire Ron Rooke and Matt Dunigan and hire Higgins as general manager and/or head coach in Calgary and Higgins take most of the staff here to Calgary to really rock the rivalry?

Is there somebody else out there who both Maciocia and Marshall would stay to work with if they're not offered a job or don't like the looks of any job available?

Whoever is offered the job, will it be mandatory to hire Rick Campbell and Dan Kepley to actually get it?

Is Rick Stubler a candidate? Kent Austin?

And who will be choosing the next head coach of the Eskimos, Hugh Campbell as his last hiring as CEO or Rick LeLacheur as his first hiring as his semi-seamless transition into the job continues?

Just a few questions to consider as the Eskimos move forward to the future.

Make no mistake, Ray could be a player in all of this. He's tight with Maciocia. And if he has run out of NFL options at the end of this season, his return would create more excitement than any new head coach.

Ray, currently moved from the practice roster to carrying a clipboard as third-string quarterback this weekend, is going to be up in the air for a while. If he ends the season on the roster, he's not coming back. If he gets waived and ends up back on the practice roster, he's a good bet to be back, especially if Maciocia is in the picture.

Maciocia is a young Canadian coach who in some ways reminds of a young Hugh Campbell. He has a high likability quotient and the Eskimos, unlike most clubs, have a history of hiring head coaches with offensive backgrounds than defensive backgrounds.

Marshall comes with the built-in respect of having played in the league for nine years, winning frequent all-star honours and a most outstanding defensive player award. He's more of a contrast to Higgins than Maciocia, a more gruff and tough, tell-it-like-it-is type who doesn't try to make every day a happy day. And he has more experience.

Don't scoff at the Calgary thing with Higgins. He coached there for nine years before his 11 here and I think the best bet in all of this is that he'll end up there under new ownership. I already have people telling me it's all set up and was a factor in Higgins firing himself.

The Eskimos want to wait until after Christmas to do this deal, but they're going to have to keep their eyes and ears open. And on Ottawa and/or Winnipeg rushing in and grabbing one or both of these guys a week or two after the Grey Cup.

Higgins didn't name Marshall and Maciocia specifically, but when I asked him if he had recommended his own replacement, he said, "I recommended (they) please take a look at other coaches on this staff."

For his part, Campbell said, "I'd anticipate coaches on our staff are very interested," but indicated "it won't be a quick turnaround" and that "we'll definitely search the universe of coaches."

'WITH OR WITHOUT'

He indicated he'd wait until after Christmas and the completion of the NFL and U.S. major college football seasons. But his plan was to wait three weeks to deal with Higgins and it took three days.

"I will talk to every assistant coach and encourage Rick LeLacheur to sit in on those meetings," said Campbell.

Campbell sounded very much like a man soon to slide off into the sunset.

When one member of the media suggested there's a growing number of fans calling for his head, Campbell responded: "The Eskimos will be fine with or without me or Tom Higgins."

You may have noticed that Higgins departure was orchestrated by Campbell and LeLacheur in tandem - and with LeLacheur playing a much bigger role than many on the outside expected. You have to believe the next head coach will be hired in tandem.

Bottom line? There's more involved here than just the hiring of a new head coach. What we're dealing with here is the future face of the franchise.


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