Dream come true

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Richie Hall stepped in front of 15 media cameras yesterday and took his place as the Edmonton Eskimos new head coach.

"It's a dream come true," said Hall in the Esks' lower-level compound at Commonwealth Stadium.

Hall will not be the defensive co-ordinator with the Esks. He admits to talking to at least two current Edmonton assistant coaches already.

"They have a good staff here," said Hall.

When pressed on whether he has a fiery side to him and can motivate players, the personable and soft-spoken Hall showed another side.

"Don't let the look fool you," said Hall.

"There is a meanness side to me. I am going to have a good time, but I am very competitive, stubborn and my mom would say I'm mean."

Current Eskimo linebacker Shannon Garrett is applauding the move.

"I think it's great," he commented. "He's been overlooked for years."

Garrett played under Hall in Saskatchewan in 1998-99. "It's a very well deserved position."

Ricky Ray and the Eskimos offence are major winners today without playing a game.

With Hall becoming Edmonton's new head coach, Ray and company won't have to see the defensive mastermind on the Rider sidelines.

The former defensive co-ordinator in Saskatchewan, Hall caused major problems for Ray the last two seasons.

In fact, the Esks have managed just two wins in seven regular season games since the start of 2007 against the Riders -- being outscored 248-145.

TOUGH TIME

"We had a tough time against him," said Ray within an hour of Hall being announced the new Edmonton bench boss yesterday.

"Year in and year out, they have had one of the best defences."

In three regular-season games against the Riders this year, Ray failed to pass for more than 249 yards in a contest. He threw four picks and just one major.

"I am very sick of playing against his defence," added Edmonton receiver Kamau Peterson.

"I thought (his hiring yesterday) was fantastic. It made my day."

Edmonton defensive end Fred Perry -- who has a history with Hall when they were together in Regina earlier this decade -- went one step further.

"This is a great feeling," said Perry on being re-united with Hall.

"That made my Christmas a whole lot better. It is an early Christmas present for me."

Meanwhile, Eskimos GM Danny Maciocia has turned into the Grinch in Regina.

Loved in the Riders' locker-room, Hall's departure has changed the landscape for some Saskatchewan players.

"I had a couple of guys call me today and they were like mad," said Edmonton defensive end Fred Perry.

The Riders have several potential key free agents on defence, including the terrific starting linebacking unit of Maurice Lloyd, Anton McKenzie and Sean Lucas.

Lloyd and McKenzie were CFL all-stars this past season.

And Lucas is an emerging SAM-linebacker.

All three will be on the free-agent market if not re-signed by Feb. 15.

When asked if he could see some players leaving Regina in free agency, Perry replied: "Yeah. My friends called today and told me they were ready to go. Just like that. That is the type of guy Richie is. Without Richie they don't feel like they want to be there."

Perry won't identify names, but he's not alone in speculating the Riders will lose players because Hall is now leading the Eskimos.

"Someone will (leave)," said current Rider defensive back Omarr Morgan, referring to the linebackers.

Ranked fourth in the CFL in average yards given up on defence (372) in 2008, the Esks need to improve.

Under Hall's direction, Saskatchewan had the top-ranked defence giving up just 354 yards per contest.

Hall was the defensive co-ordinator in Regina for eight seasons and assistant coach for 15 years.

There is no official word on who will replace Hall as the Riders' top defensive coach, but Gary Etcheverry spent last season as a defensive assistant in Regina and is a former CFL head coach.


Videos

Photos