Promotion hard to swallow

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Finally, the fans will have somebody else to kick around.

But here's the rub.

Danny Maciocia sacked himself as head coach yesterday. And got another promotion. And a raise!

All the fans who wanted him run out of town finally had their wish come true -- Maciocia stepped down as head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.

But hold on. Time out.

About now, it should be occurring to the fickle fans who wanted the man to flock off with the Canada geese at this time for each of the last three years that he has just ensured he'll be here far into the future.

By firing himself as head coach and adding the title of general manager to that of director of football operations, Maciocia has put himself in the position to have the same kind of career here as Hugh Campbell to not only to go from coach to GM but to become the eventual replacement for 60-year-old Rick LeLacheur as CEO down the road.

Chew on that for a moment. Campbell coached the Eskimos for six seasons, finished first every year, went to the Grey Cup six times, won it five times and ended up with a 70-21-5 regular season coaching record and the highest all-time winning percentage of .773. He went to the NFL as a head coach and returned to be GM, getting his team a home playoff game 19 straight seasons in one capacity or the other.

Maciocia coached for four seasons, finished third once and last in the division three times, didn't get his team to a single home playoff game, won one Grey Cup and ended up with a 33-38-1 record.

We live in interesting times.

And you read right. Maciocia will make more money next year than he did doing essentially the same job he did last year.

"Minutely," said LeLacheur. "We'd never changed his salary when he added the football operations job," the CEO explained.

It's believed Maciocia will make $300,000 a year as GM.

"I could make a lot more money in the family business," said Maciocia. "But I'm still living the dream."

While he's added the title GM, the job definition doesn't change.

"It' anything that falls under the definition of football ops," Maciocia said.

"From my point of view, it comes with mixed emotions," said LeLacheur.

"There was a lot of discussion. This move could have happened next year."

But with Mike Kelly leaving and quite likely taking one or two Eskimos assistants with him to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, there was going to be turnover on the staff, where Maciocia has had 17 assistant coaches in four seasons.

"I was leaning the other way if the whole staff came back," LeLacheur said of Maciocia coaching another season and getting a little further down the road to finishing an unfinished job from that end of it.

"But losing two or three coaches this year, we'd be doing it again next year. We need this to be as seamless as possible."

Expect a new head coach before Christmas.

LeLacheur made it completely clear Maciocia is his man when it comes to the big picture and has been since the start of this journey.

"Danny has always indicated a desire to get into football management," LeLacheur said. "Finding and developing young coaches is not an easy task but it is equally difficult, maybe more so, to develop football executives.

"Danny has a deep understanding of the game itself and a strong grasp of business. This move will allow him to not only continue to learn the business, but to be able to look at the big picture."

If Maciocia's many detractors expected this to be a down day in the career of the little guy, it certainly didn't work out that way. It had more the feel of it being his graduation day.

"I'm probably just as excited as I was Dec. 4, 2004, when I was named head coach," he said.

"I could have done this last year. We spent a lot of time going back and forth."

He said the situation with his family played a large part.

"My kids are nine and four years old and 10 months," he said.

"My nine-year-old daughter has been playing soccer for four years, and I've seen one game. My wife tells me our four-year-old daughter can skate, but I haven't seen her yet."

Maciocia can now find time to appreciate them.

And he can now find time to appreciate 'his' fans.

"I'd rather be where people care," he said. "I'm in a place where people care."

Beautiful.


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