Maciocia: 'I will be back'

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia says he will be back with the team next year. (Edmonton...

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia says he will be back with the team next year. (Edmonton Sun File/Brendon Dlouhy)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The guessing game is over.

The smallest chance that Danny Maciocia could leave Edmonton has now disappeared.

For the first time, Maciocia has confirmed he is staying as head coach with the Eskimos for 2007.

"I will be back in Edmonton," he told the Sun last night.

For weeks rumours have swirled that the sophomore head coach could be leaving for his hometown in Montreal to fill the vacancy left by Don Matthews.

There have also been suggestions he could join friend and general manager Marcel Desjardins with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

And while the rumour mill worked overtime, official word hadn't come from within the Eskimo organization that Maciocia would stay.

But that uncertainty is now gone.

Nothing is going to change the fact Maciocia will be on the sidelines next year at Commonwealth Stadium for the Green and Gold.

"To me, there is no better job in Canada in the CFL," he remarked.

The announcement came at the end of a revealing day.

NOT GOING THERE

When asked yesterday morning if the Als would contact the Eskimos to ask permission to speak with Maciocia at the end of the year, Montreal CEO Larry Smith told the Sun: "I suggest we wouldn't go there.

"The biggest issue is that we have given Jim Popp the opportunity to coach (our) club.

"There is always the possibility he could end up like a Wally Buono (head coach and general manager)."

Maciocia's announcement comes as the Eskimos prepare to leave for Montreal tomorrow.

Before officially revealing his plans for 2007, the trip to his hometown had the makings of becoming a three-ring media circus, with seemingly endless questions of his possible move to the Alouettes.

"I'm hoping not to see (the circus)," said Maciocia last night.

More importantly, the only Canadian-born head coach in the league is focusing on the renovation job his franchise is facing.

"I am going to say we have a pretty good foundation in place," he said. "I would say 60-70% of what is here will be here next year. We just have to have a better supporting staff.

"We just need to make a few changes and make the right changes.

"We are probably a handful of plays and a handful of players away from being a pretty good football team."

When pressed further, he admitted he is open to the idea of a full-time offensive co-ordinator and other changes off the field.

"It could be another player personnel guy, maybe having a couple around," he admitted.

Team president Rick LeLacheur concurs with Maciocia, believing the Esks don't need an overhaul.

"It's not like we have been blown out of every game," reasoned LeLacheur.

CLOSE GAMES

"We had the one game on Canada Day in Winnipeg (a 46-10 loss), but outside of that we have lost some pretty close games. We have a lot of good players, but we're not happy being out of the playoffs.

"Clearly our objective for next year is to make the playoffs and it will take some personnel changes.

"But it is more like a renovation versus destroying the foundation."

While being out of the playoffs understandably stings, Maciocia seems to have a renewed fire burning within.

"I wake up early in the morning and come to work and it fires me up knowing that we are going to fix things around here and we are going to be a pretty good football team here in the very near future," he said.


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