If Ottawa’s brand spanking-new football team is looking for a leader, there’s a guy with great credentials knocking on the door.
The CFL’s director of officiating, Tom Higgins, a former GM and coach with the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders, has let the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group know he wants to be the team’s first GM.
“He got a great resume and he’s a guy of interest to us,” said OSEG’s Jeff Hunt. “We’ve spoken a couple of times. Tom has made it known to me that he’s interested in the Ottawa opportunity and I look forward to speaking to him further.”
Higgins said he’d be the right fit for the Ottawa job.
“There have been a number of times where we’ve crossed paths. I’ve told them I would like to have further discussions,” said the 58-year-old, who coached the Eskimos to the Grey Cup title in 2003. “Am I the right guy for the job? Absolutely. If the answer was anything but that, they shouldn’t be talking to me.
“What I’m going to be able to sell is that I’ve done that and I’m going to be able to set it up again and I’ll show you what my blueprint is going to be.”
Higgins is in his fifth year with the CFL.
“I have a great job,” he said. “Being the director of officiating. I’m going to say it tongue in cheek, the strength in this job is that nobody wants the job. It’s not like people are standing in line to be director of officiating because it’s a complaint department. I say that jokingly.
“Right now, the task at hand is taking care of the officials for the 100th Grey Cup. Once the season is over, I’d be more than happy to have discussions with the Ottawa group.”
Higgins is eager to get involved, particularly keen about the Ottawa opportunity.
“(I’d get back) only in the correct situation,” he said. “You always want to be careful what you wish for because when you get back into a club, you put your neck back out on the line. I’m very much willing to take a risk if it’s the right fit.
“What I look at with Ottawa, they have set up a structure that can allow a new franchise long-term success. What is being built right now is a lasting legacy.
“They have one shot in which to pick the right person to build the foundations to build an organization that people will be envious of. I know that the CFL has done its homework to never have another failed franchise. There were a lot of mistakes made that have been well-documented. That won’t happen again. They will hit the ground running.”
OSEG is still looking through applications for the GM job, hoping to have somebody in place by February.