He's gotta go

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

Sept. 22, 2006 should go down as Hugh Campbell's expiration date. Not Danny Maciocia's.

Forget Maciocia not being fired now or at the end of the season. The focus must now switch to Campbell being retired. And now no punches can be pulled. He's gotta go.

Campbell, after not being around most of the year, just insulted the intelligence of the Edmonton football fan beyond belief.

Most wanted to see the CFL legend leave the Eskimos on top, celebrated for one of the most remarkable careers in the history of sports coaching and management in this country. Campbell should have taken his leave last year with a Grey Cup.

Now, he's going to have to be shown the door. It's time. This can't go on. I didn't ever want to have to write this column, but Hugh Campbell must be put out to pasture.

What we're dealing with here are the late, great Edmonton Eskimos. Not only in the standings, but with an organization which will remain as structurally dysfunctional as it has become as long as Hugh Campbell remains as CEO.

Friday night, after the Eskimos completed their first-to-worst, outhouse-to-penthouse trip and were booed off the field by their disgusted fans, Campbell decided to "announce'' that Maciocia was going to be back as coach next year. He didn't mention this decision was actually made a couple weeks ago with president Rick LeLacheur. Nor did he mention Maciocia would replace himself as offensive co-ordinator.

What Campbell said was that it would be "absurd'' to fire the coach after this season. He said that would make "zero sense.'' And that "somebody would have to explain to me why it makes some sense.''

The very night Campbell decided to tell the town that Maciocia was staying, was the night it became totally obvious to 36,406 fans that he had, in fact, lost his team - for very few reasons of his own making.

DIDN'T COME TO COMPETE

Maciocia admitted it when asked if the Eskimos responded in any way to his ultimate challenge to show some pride.

"No,'' he said.

Urgency? "There was none.''

With the season and the team's 34-season record run of making the playoffs on the line, they didn't come to compete.

Campbell talked about "the enthusiasm this team has had.''

Enthusiasm? That's what's missing! And pride and passion and character and ...

Campbell talked about the idea not being able to make the playoffs every year, but to provide competitive and entertaining football. Like that's what they're doing?

The Eskimos are now dead last in the league! They can't beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats! That's competitive?

And entertaining? Anybody who thinks this team has been entertaining this season has their head in the sand at the lake in, oh, I don't know, Idaho.

"Sometimes you have to make a change because you're desperate,'' said Campbell.

"But the Eskimos have no reason to be desperate. We could do this again next year and not be desperate.''

Say what?

WHO'S RUNNING THE TEAM?

Here it's almost the end of September, the Eskimos' season is all but mathematically over, and we're back to trying to figure out who is running this football team again.

Campbell? Or LeLacheur?

Campbell shows up back in town and suddenly sounds like his game plan is to stay on as CEO and continue to do next to nothing.

This team needs to go out and improve the Canadian talent which has, other than Adam Braidwood, dropped back to near zilch again. It needs to replace receivers who, other than Jason Tucker, can't get it done anymore. Major reconstruction has to happen in the defensive secondary. And the return team, good gawd ...

The fans Campbell insulted would almost all do the same thing here, even if they had no option but to keep Maciocia as head coach.

- Retire Hugh Campbell.

- Put a working football man between LeLacheur and Maciocia.

- Hire an offensive co-ordinator to bring Maciocia down to one job instead of three.

- Tell Rick Campbell it's time to go to work for another team.

- Tell Dan Kepley and Ron Lancaster Jr. that Hughie's gone, so there's no reason for them not to be gone, too.

That's just the start of a long list.

Tell the fans that all of that is absurd and that it all makes zero sense too, Hugh.


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