It's Milller time for Riders head coach -- again
By Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency
|Ken Miller says the impact of his retirement announcement on Monday likely won't hit him until next week. (QMI Agency file)
One more game, then it’s Miller time.
Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Ken Miller announced he was retiring from the game earlier this week, meaning his career will be riding out of Commonwealth Stadium into the setting sun on Friday.
The only question left to answer is will he go out on a winning note, or will it be his third CFL season in a row that ends in defeat?
Of course, the last two didn’t happen until the Grey Cup, but this year has been different for the head coach — who didn’t even begin the season on the sidelines.
It wasn’t until the midseason firing of Greg Marshall and Doug Berry that the vice-president of football operations found himself back down at field level.
“It’s a situation I didn’t want to be in to begin with,” said Miller, who took over for the then 1-7 club after retiring to the front office in the off-season. “But once I was in it, then I was going to do it full bore, with everything that I have, and I’ve done that.
“To step back was something that was needed, I think, when I did it. The decision I made last year was a tremendous decision for me, for my family and I think for the organization.”
Which is what he’s always held first and foremost.
“Even though it’s my last game, if we focus on that it’s really a distraction,” Miller said. “We want to play well in this football game because it’s a football game — it’s the most important game that we play this week.”
Sure, he says that a lot, but it offers some insight into who Miller is. As does one coach who worked with him in Regina and will be on the opposing sideline Friday.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed, who was with the Roughriders in 2009. “Coach Miller is a scholar and a gentleman, he truly personifies that. An absolutely brilliant football mind, a guy that holds honour and integrity very high. The way he approached us as a staff is the way I try to approach my staff: not to be too overbearing, be a support to them. And his temperament doesn’t really change.
“That’s very important when you’re trying to motivate guys to play football games.”
Despite the fact that he turned 70 last month, Miller has shown he is able to connect with players who are young enough to be his grandchildren.
“That’s understanding that we’re in a people business and in order to be able to relate to the people, you have to understand the people and be able to understand their vernacular and their vocabulary,” Reed said, smiling. “I never saw him wear his pants below his waist, but he understood the jargon.
“He knew how to motivate guys because he could speak their language when he had to.
“Guys respect that because they know it’s a concerted effort to understand them.”
Miller said he has been so focused on Friday’s game that he hasn’t had time to think about it being his last.
“I think, the emotional time really for me was on Monday when I announced it,” Miller said in his final pre-game press conference on Thursday. “I think when I get to next week that’s when it will really hit me.”