Defence by committee

Former Eskimos player Malvin Hunter was announced yesterday as the club's special teams coach....

Former Eskimos player Malvin Hunter was announced yesterday as the club's special teams coach. (Edmonton Sun File Photo)

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

It's Plan B time for the Edmonton Eskimos' department of defence.

Rookie head coach Danny Maciocia has abandoned his search for a defensive co-ordinator in favour of defence by committee approach for the 2005 Canadian Football League season.

The defensive co-ordinator position became vacant when Greg Marshall left Edmonton to accept a similar position with the Ottawa Renegades in late January.

Rick Campbell will bear the brunt of the responsibility for the team's defence this season, but will do so without the benefit of the co-ordinator's title.

"He's leading the group. That's what it comes down to," Maciocia explained when asked to define Campbell's role. "You're talking to someone that's not big on titles.

"All I knows is at the end of the day you've got to work in conjunction with the guys on that side of the ball. Collectively, you've got to put a game plan together.

"On game day, Rick Campbell will call the defence and Dan Kepley will be upstairs and he will relay as much information as he can possibly get."

Campbell retains his duties as defensive back coach, but relinquishes special teams coaching duties to former Esk defensive standout Malvin Hunter.

Hunter rejoins the team for his second tour of duty as an assistant coach. Kepley, meanwhile, goes from coaching the defensive line to tutoring the linebacking corps this season.

NOT A RADICAL DEPARTURE

"It's not a radical departure for me from what I've been doing here," Campbell offered. "The game-day responsibilities on defence will increase."

On the heels of a one-year stint as the Green and Gold's defensive line coach in 2001, Hunter left the CFL club. He resumed his coaching career with the Arena Football League's Detroit Fury and spent last season as an assistant at the University of Richmond.

"To get the call from Edmonton kind of caught me off guard, but I'm ready to go," said Hunter, who suffered a career-ending knee injury during the 2000 season. "I definitely want to coach. I can see myself doing it 15 or 20 years from now."

Hunter was first contacted by Campbell about two weeks ago.

INTEREST IN RITCHIE WANED

That's roughly the time Edmonton's interest in former Winnipeg head coach Dave Ritchie waned, amid reports Esks president and CEO Hugh Campbell was pushing to make his son the defensive co-ordinator.

Maciocia says there was no undue pressure exerted by the elder Campbell and suggests the decision to abandon pursuit of a replacement for Marshall was his best option.

"I came to the conclusion that we've got some guys that have been with me here the last three years," offered the head coach.

"We've won 35 games. I can honestly tell you regardless of what people think, there's no one individual that can possibly co-ordinate a whole defence. I believe in continuity.

"There's a relationship there between the coaches and the players. I believe that you should take care of it from within, and that's exactly what I did. I think this is what's best for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2005."

Despite the optics of handing the team president and CEO's son a promotion, Maciocia says it's a move he'd make just the same.

"Maybe if his name wasn't Campbell, he'd be treated and considered differently," Maciocia said.

"He is a knowledgeable individual. I can tell you that. I wouldn't put my job on the line if I didn't feel that way."

In the wake of yesterday's announcements, Maciocia now finds himself without a defensive line coach. He intends to fill that vacancy within two to three weeks.

Don Wnek, formerly of Montreal and Hamilton, is said to have the inside track on the job.


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