Eric Tillman would neither confirm nor deny the hiring of Kavis Reed as the new coach of the Edmonton Eskimos prior to an official announcement by the club, scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.
“I think that’s something we’ll speak to at that point,” Tillman said from his home in Regina Thursday night. “The rumour, this obviously this took on a life of its own 24 hours earlier when no offer had been extended.
“There have been discussions (Thursday), we’ll have an official announcement (Friday).”
Reed, who lives with his family in Edmonton during the off-season, was one of seven candidates interviewed for the head coaching job, along with Chris Jones, who will return as the Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator next season.
But the general manager didn’t hold back pointing out some irresponsibility on the part of the media when it came to recent reports on the rest of the coaching staff.
“There will be no announcements regarding assistant coaches (Friday) and nothing is official in that regard. That is pure speculation,” Tillman said. “In terms of the report involving assistant coaches, that is absolute 100% speculation. The new head coach will sit down and visit with the current staff and make those decisions first as to who will be retained.
“Subsequent to that, then we’ll make decisions going forward.”
A report on sportsnet.com listed either Eskimos linebackers coach Mark Nelson or B.C. Lions defensive line coach Rich Stubler as taking over as defensive co-ordinator, Marcus Crandell becoming offensive co-ordinator, while Rick Campbell would return as special teams co-ordinator.
“I’ll put it this way: Some of the guesses are good and some of them are dead wrong. That is putting the cart way, way, way ahead of the horse,” Tillman said. “That speculation is very unfortunate given the fact that we have a large number of good men who are still under contract with our club and have not even visited with the head coach at this point.”
Mapping out a staff of co-ordinators and assistant coaches was a key factor in the decision-making process, Tillman said.
“That is a private discussion and the ultimate decision … who the three co-ordinators would be was a strong consideration for each candidate. Beyond that, there are a bunch of moveable parts,” he said. “There wasn’t a single guy that could say absolutely this will be the staff or that will be the staff. All of them said, ‘I want to sit down and visit with the people that are there.’ It could be a possibility that co-ordinators could stay but in different roles.”
Trying to project a complete staff is an unpredictable business based on options that may not be there, Tillman said, not to mention unfair.
“To say it’s etched in sand is an exaggeration,” Tillman said. “We live in a day and time where there’s such a rush to get the story that in the stampede to get it, there’s collateral damage. Lost in the middle of all this discussion … the forgotten men are the assistant coaches, who have wives and families and live on fixed incomes.
“It’s unfortunate in a media swarm to try to get the story, sometimes they get trampled on. There is a distinction between speculation, guessing and absolute accuracy. Somewhere in the middle, people unnecessarily get stepped on. It’s unfortunate that they have to read this sort of speculation prior to a head coach being named.”