Title town

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

It's called a seamless transition.

In this case, it's been so seamless that the Edmonton Eskimos almost came right out and made it official. Almost.

It's just a title, but behind the changing of a title is public confirmation of the way it's been for all of last year and what Rick LeLacheur and Hugh Campbell had been putting into effect even the year before that.

At the annual general meeting last night - otherwise known as the annual dog-and-pony show - Campbell asked the board to transfer the title of president from himself to LeLacheur. Campbell asked that he remain CEO and that LeLacheur remain COO.

The board adjourned to vote and were back 47.4 seconds later agreeing to the request.

So, what changes?

Nothing that hasn't been changing before all of Edmonton's eyes for the past two years.

FOOTBALL AND BUSINESS

The Eskimos are still Campbell's football team. What this tells the world is that this has absolutely become very much LeLacheur's business.

Campbell will continue to ease toward retirement, spending less and less time in the office, especially in July and August when he essentially resides at his cabin in Idaho.

And LeLacheur - who has continually added revenue from corporate sponsorship to the team - continues to make it easy by not having the ego to need to be CEO.

He also makes it easy for the board by continuing to increase revenue adding up to more than the total of the pay for himself and Campbell.

"I've been called a lot of things and most of them are OK," said Campbell, when he publicly told the board he wished for LeLacheur to assume the title of president.

"Rick is the president of the CFL's president's committee and he's the only one who isn't the president of his team," he said.

Campbell, who won five Grey Cups as coach and four as CEO, turns 65 before the season kicks off. LeLacheur, a former chairman of the board, two-time Grey Cup committee chairman and CEO of Edmonton 2001 World Championships In Athletics, is 57.

"It's the same job I've had," Campbell said, adding he doesn't see retirement, as such, on the immediate horizon.

"I mentor coaches and make final decisions. Rick focuses on the business side and I focus on the football side. If there is a decision we don't agree on - like the Grey Cup rings - I'll make the decision," said Campbell, unable to resist the one-line zinger at the end.

'NEW BUSINESS CARDS'

LeLacheur said the only added expense involved in all of this "will be the printing of new business cards."

He said, to him, it's no big deal.

"We work so well together," he said.

As for the time Campbell spends away from the office, LeLacheur says 'CEO' hasn't become a new title for consultant.

"It's more important to have quality time. What Hugh Campbell offers in experience on the football side doesn't take a lot of time. It's the quality of advice he gives. And at the end of the day, he's still the boss."

The Eskimos have a head coach who won the Grey Cup in his rookie year last year who isn't really sure who hired him.

"I always said I'd find out one day," Danny Maciocia laughed last night as I sat beside him in the Eskimo dressing room, explaining that the 34-year streak of making the playoffs is nothing compared to the even longer streak of board member elections by acclamation.

The bottom line is that the Eskimos have won two out of the last three Grey Cups with the seamless transition between Campbell and LeLacheur in effect. And in contrast yesterday was the circus in Ottawa with the Gleibermans.

To some, the Eskimos set-up might be considered somewhat unusual. But until you can make a case it doesn't work, as long as you lead the league in attendance, continue the record run of playoff appearances and championships, it's difficult to suggest there's really anything wrong with it.


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