EDMONTON - It can be lonely at the top.
But Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall is getting back down to turf-level with his players when training camp opens next week.
Since taking on the added duties as defensive co-ordinator after the departure of Jim Daley in the off-season, Hall said he is looking forward to getting his hands dirty again.
“As a head coach, it can be a very lonely place,” Hall said in a CFL conference call Tuesday previewing the Eskimos’ season for media across the country. “Because you’re sitting up there and there are so many things coming at you and (you ask) are you doing the right thing?”
Fortunately, he can direct those questions to Eskimos general manager Danny Maciocia.
The former head coach also assumed duties of offensive co-ordinator before moving to the front office last year.
“I felt I was much more involved when I was doing both compared to when I was just deemed the head coach,” Maciocia said. “I felt lonely the year that I didn’t co-ordinate. I almost like I was purchasing a ticket and the only major topic of conversation that took place on the sideline was basically the coin toss and whether we would go for it on third down or not”.
The coach and GM share more than similar coaching resumes.
“We’ve got a good, positive working relationship and share the same vision regarding our football team,” Maciocia said.
But with most of the starters and coaching staff also returning, the two top dogs aren’t the only ones with a feeling of familiarity.
“Going into my second year as head coach, I feel so much more confident in my responsibilities and probably the most important thing is just having a better feel for our football team,” said Hall, who joined the Eskimos in December 2008. “I like to think I have a real good handle as far as the responsibilities as head coach as well as now being the defensive co-ordinator.
“We’re a better football team in 2010 than we were in 2009 at this particular point in time. One of the biggest reasons is just because we have a year under our belts.”
That goes for both the second-year general manager, the second-year head coach and the majority of the coaching staff and starting players.
“There’s something that has to be said about continuity because you gain experience, you gain knowledge and that confident feeling about being with one another,” Hall said.
The only staffing change is the addition of former Eskimos defensive lineman Mike Walker, who returns to coach the position.
“Structurally, there’s a major change in our coaching staff where I will be definitely more involved with the defence this year,” said Hall, who co-ordinated the defence with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for eight years including the 2007 Grey Cup champions. “I’m very excited to get back and the opportunity to get more involved with the Xs and Os.”
Just don’t be surprised if those plays get drawn up similarly to the Roughriders defences of the past decade.
“I want to go back to doing things that I did a lot with the Saskatchewan Roughriders,” Hall said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why coach Maciocia brought me in here.”