On the defensive

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Rick Campbell has been in the eye of the storm all season - but he's downplaying a report that he's about to flee the wreckage.

A national media story has surfaced stating Campbell - and his father Hugh - will leave the Edmonton Eskimos at the end of the season.

"I'd love to come back," said the defensive co-ordinator, whose father is the CEO of the club.

"It is a great place to work. I am an Eskimo at heart but also I am a coach trying to do his best job.

"I'd love an opportunity to come back here."

And he looks set to get that opportunity, with Danny Maciocia saying last night he will be back as head coach.

Although Maciocia refused to speculate on the fate of his assistant coaches during his daily media conference yesterday, he later admitted that he wants his key defensive coach back.

"... I would want Rick on the staff," said Maciocia.

Campbell's defence has suffered and, at times, imploded during a 5-11 season.

To be fair, the unit has been missing several key players - Steven Marsh, Rashad Jeanty, A.J. Gass for a portion of the year - but nothing can erase the results.

The Milt Miracle - the 100-yard game-winning touchdown grab in July - will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Blitzing on the final play against Winnipeg in July has been called one of the stupidest coaching decisions in history.

There have been several other big and costly plays against his crew through the season, including last weekend in the ultimate must-win game for the Green and Gold against Toronto.

But Campbell accepts his fair share of the blame.

"Sure we miss some guys, but it is also our job to get whoever is here as ready as possible," he admitted.

The players at his disposal seem to be on his side, even in the midst of a season that has broken the playoff streak.

"We respect Rick and he's the right guy for us," said Eskimos linebacker Singor Mobley.

And respect is the most important factor for Campbell.

"If I lost their (the players' and coaches') respect or they thought I wasn't someone that was worthy, then in two seconds I would get out of here," he remarked.

Being the son of the boss can be a very difficult situation to work in, but the Harry Ainlay high school product tries to block it out.

"The people that can't deal with it (the family ties), that is their problem," he said.

"When I first came here I knew it would be an issue.

"The problem I wrestle with is that I think this is a great place to live and a great place to coach.

"I'm sure there are other places as well, but I don't want to leave somewhere and go to an inferior situation."

FINISH LINES: Hugh Campbell wasn't available to comment yesterday on the report. Speculation has been growing for months that he is apparently leaving, but there has never been official confirmation.


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