Too little, too late for Esks Hall

Now ex-head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, Richie Hall, talks to the media at the Commonwealth...

Now ex-head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos, Richie Hall, talks to the media at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton after being fired by the team. (Tom Braid/QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

On a fan poll that’s been up on riderfans.com most of this week, nearly 75% of Saskatchewan fans would welcome Richie Hall back with open arms.

Friday, Riders head coach Ken Miller said he’d be happy to welcome back Hall to his staff if an opening came up.

Now that the former Eskimos head coach is unemployed for the first time in his football career, he’ll have plenty of time to weight his options.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet day,” said Hall. “I don’t know so much about the sweetness part, but the bitter part is that I’m no longer the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.

“I really enjoyed my experience here, had a lot of fun. I’m very disappointed that we didn’t win as many games as we set out to win, but at the end of the day, it was a very positive and very enjoyable experience for myself.”

Hall still has a year left on the three-year deal he signed with the Eskimos at the start of the 2009 season.

The likeable and classy Hall still had a smile on his face as he mulled his next move after he got the official word he won’t be back as the Esks head coach.

“Maybe I’ll do some social work,” said Hall.

Chances are, he won’t be on either side of the bread line for long.

Hall went down a long list of people that he thanked for his first opportunity to be a head coach.

“Most important, I want to thank the players for having an opportunity to coach them,” said Hall. “It’s a great game, but it’s a crappy business. We all understand that’s the nature of the game.

“I’m very proud to have been the head coach here for the last two years and I’m very proud to have accomplish what we have accomplished.”

Hall got a 9-9 team into the playoffs in 2009, but a loss last weekend in Regina left the team at 7-10 and on the outside looking in on this year’s playoff picture.

“At one point, we were 2-9 and the only people who didn’t write us off was the players in the locker room,” said Hall. “They showed me something special about themselves. Whether we were able to pull ourselves out of the hole or not, they were sure going to give it a shot.”

The decision to fire Hall may have been formulated when the team stumbled out of the gate. It obviously had nothing to do with the sudden coaching genius Hall displayed when some key players came off the nine-game injured list and finished with a late-season kick in which the team won five of its last seven starts.

“That’s what makes it so special,” said Hall. “When you talk about team, it goes beyond talent, it goes to heart. When I look at the nucleus and heart those guys had, the way they played the last half of the season.

“Whoever will be leading the ship here, they got a great start.

They’ve got a good locker room. They’ve got a great group of individuals.”

Whatever the case, Hall accepts the fact that football coaches are hired to be fired.

“At the end of the day, Mr. Tillman is the general manager, he’s going to decide who the head coach is going to be,” said Hall. “I can’t control that.”

“Did we underachieve? Yes we did, because we didn’t win enough football games. This year, we were able to throw dirt to fill in the hole, but not enough to walk out of it.”

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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