Esks did what?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

Malvin Hunter, huh? After an exhaustive search spanning the globe, the Edmonton Eskimos have settled on Malvin Hunter?

I'm amazed the football team with more than $12 million in the bank didn't wait until the Brier began to make this announcement to try to bury it as deep in the sports sections as possible.

This one is going to go over like a lead balloon.

Malvin Hunter being added to the staff means that the Eskimos were unable to replace Greg Marshall as defensive co-ordinator. It means they will not have a defensive co-ordinator.

It means that the Eskimos would have been better off keeping Tom Higgins as head coach with Maciocia and Marshall as assistants. They'd have a better overall coaching staff.

Higgins has ended up with a more impressive staff in Calgary with co-coach Denny Creehan and offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto, etc., than Maciocia has here.

You could make a case that the flagship franchise has been left with the least impressive assistant coaching staff in the entire league.

SELLING OUT?

Either new head coach Maciocia didn't have the connections to find a first-rate assistant or he sold out just to get the job and allowed CEO Hugh Campbell to stiff him with staff that were old friends of the CEO, and old Eskimos.

OK. Maybe it's just public perception. Maybe Maciocia's staff will turn out to be a collection of coaches who one day will be viewed as brilliant football minds.

But public perception is public perception. It was public perception which made it a no-brainer that Higgins could not remain as head coach here.

There was already the public perception that Rick Campbell was on staff because he was Hugh Campbell's son.

There was also the public perception that Campbell brought Dan Kepley to the staff to help turn his life around.

While there are people in the Eskimos' organization who swear the two have both become quality coaches, the public isn't going to buy it until somebody else hires them and they move on to prove themselves in a non-protected environment.

The hiring of Ron Lancaster Jr. to replace Maciocia as offensive co-ordinator raised eyebrows. Ron Jr. was here before when his dad was head coach, and left to join pop's staff in Hamilton.

When Lancaster Sr. was replaced as head coach of the Tabbies, Lancaster Jr. was not asked to stay. Instead he went to Winnipeg. He was not asked back by the Blue Bombers this season.

Out of work and contemplating calling it a career, the Eskimos decided to give him a job.

The message that may have been delivered was that Maciocia was going to be hands-on with his offence.

But this ...

Hunter was briefly an Eskimo coach before as the team paid out his contract and kept him around. Then he was history.

Now he's back?And as special teams coach?

His hiring means the Eskimos are still looking for a defensive line coach. Hunter was a defensive lineman.

What message does that deliver about the importance of special teams?

And on game days, Rick Campbell is going to call the defensive signals?

Did the Eskimos basically give Campbell the defensive co-ordinator's job and decide not to tell anyone because of how that might have gone over?

Those are questions the fans are going to be asking the first time this team stumbles under Maciocia.

The first time this team goes into the toilet, the public perception is going to be that you can't fly like an eagle if you're surrounded by turkeys.

BELIEF IN HIM

Let's get this straight.

I believe in Maciocia. I believe in him even more since I watched him lead Canada to the Global Junior title at the Super Bowl.

But I also believe that when Hugh Campbell was head coach here he was smart enough to surround himself with first-rate assistants.

I saw how he surrounded himself with Cal Murphy, Joe Faragalli, Don Matthews and Dan Daniel.

OK. Matthews was an unknown high-school football coach and I questioned his hiring at the time. But still ...


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