Will Scott be special?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Leaving a budget-strapped American college football program behind, Scott Squires has a new problem on his hands.

After a frustrating season on punt and kickoff returns, the Edmonton Eskimos have hired Squires to be their new special teams coach - even though he has very little CFL experience.

"You just don't want to go through coaches and recycle them from one (CFL) team to another," said Eskimos' head coach Danny Maciocia, who interviewed four candidates, including two with CFL experience.

"You have to show some confidence in others who are up to the task. (Squires) is young, vibrant and well respected."

And the 41-year-old former head coach of Cal Lutheran college in California is also well connected.

That is how he first heard of the job opening to replace Malvin Hunter, who has become the defensive line coach.

"Rick (Campbell) and I are friends, and it was coaches talking to coaches - and (it was): 'Hey, we have a job available.' It was that kind of a deal," relayed Squires, a longtime friend of the Esks' defensive co-ordinator.

Other than being a guest coach at the Esks' training camp in 2001, Squires has no Canadian coaching experience.

"I will have to get up to speed on some of the rules," he admitted.

SOLID BACKGROUND

But the Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Washington) product has a solid special teams background.

During his 11-year head-coaching stint at Cal Lutheran - an NCAA III school - he doubled as the special teams co-ordinator.

"We have primarily been in the top 10 in the country (at the NCAA III level) in a lot of categories almost every year that I have been here," he remarked.

But he won't have an immediate answer for the Eskimo special teams woes.

"I just got some of the videotape from last season, so I just started going through it," said Squires.

Specifically on special teams, Tony Tompkins had a meagre 6.7-yard punt return average, which was 12th in the league.

On kickoff returns, five teams had a more productive returner than Tompkins.

But most importantly, Tompkins didn't score a special teams touchdown in 2006 after recording four in the 2005 regular season.

POINTING FINGERS

While some critics blamed the speedy returner, many pointed the finger at the blockers. Squires's hiring could help, according to Eskimo special teams' ace Mike Maurer.

"A different perspective on things might be something that will help," said Maurer.

And while in Edmonton, Squires will be able to concentrate on developing blocking schemes, unlike the demanding situation at Cal Lutheran, where he had to help fundraise - to the yearly tune of $35,000-$80,000 - to keep the football program going.

"It was a huge part of what we had to do in order to make it to our games," said Squires, noting the fundraising helped off-set travel, equipment and meal costs for the team.

FINISH LINES: In the last three years, Cal Lutheran went 20-7 under Squires. His overall coaching record was 55-44 ... Maciocia still hasn't decided the fate of many veteran players, but expect to see Tompkins at training camp. "If I'm a betting man, Tony's coming back," said Maciocia ... As reported in the Sun in December, Hunter has now officially replaced Dennis Winston as defensive line coach. "The players absolutely love him," said Maciocia. Hunter is fourth on the Esks' all-time sack list with 66.


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