CFL coach carousel spins again

Former Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry could be in line for a promotion in Saskatchewan after...

Former Blue Bombers head coach Doug Berry could be in line for a promotion in Saskatchewan after Riders head coach Ken Miller stepped down Thursday. Berry spent the 2010 season as the Riders offensive co-ordinator. (JASON HALSTEAD/Winnipeg Sun Files)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Here we go again. Cue the organ music and the angst.

The CFL’s annual coaching carousel is officially spinning.

What looked to be a relatively quiet off-season has become a typical one in the land of three downs.

Ken Miller’s resignation as chief headset wearer for Saskatchewan, Thursday, coupled with the earlier firing of Richie Hall in Edmonton, has dominoes poised to tumble from Quebec to B.C..

And if two-time Grey Cup champ Marc Trestman of the Alouettes goes looking for bigger challenges south of the border, all hell will break loose.

The thing is, if three teams in the eight-team loop change head knocks this off-season, it would simply be par for the course. The last four winters have produced no less than 13 changes at the position.

Last year was a “quiet” one, as just Winnipeg and Toronto took the plunge.

The year before that it was four teams: Toronto and Winnipeg (yawn), plus Edmonton and Hamilton.

It was four after the 2007 season, too: Toronto (not a misprint), Calgary, Saskatchewan and Montreal.

Remind me, again, why anybody wants this job?

And it’s not just the head coaches who get a rug pulled out from under them. Each time another gets fired or resigns, an entire staff of seven or eight wonders if they’ll be wanted by the new guy.

They usually aren’t.

Of course, one man’s pink slip is another man’s chance of a lifetime (Paul LaPolice, we presume, sent his thank-you card to Mike Kelly a long time ago).

This time around, the candidates most likely to move up in the world are Calgary assistants Dave Dickenson and Chris Jones, former Blue Bomber boss Doug Berry and old friend Greg Marshall.

Berry was toiling as the Riders offensive co-ordinator this year, so you’d think he’d have a foot in the door in Saskatchewan.

Too bad that doesn’t guarantee a thing. Just ask Marshall, who’s been co-ordinating CFL defences for the better part of two decades, most recently in Hamilton, only to be overlooked time and again, including three times right here in the ’Peg.

Could this be the year somebody believes enough in Marshall to give him a shot?

Saskatchewan GM Brendan Taman, who’ll be leading the search for Miller’s replacement, certainly knows a thing or two about Marshall.

Taman knows Berry, too. Hired him once already, in Winnipeg.

This choice will be fascinating.

Don’t rule out Hall making the lateral move from Edmonton to Gang Green, either.

The former Riders defensive boss is still loved in Saskatchewan. And getting fired in one place doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t excel in another.

Kent Austin, for example, got canned as the offensive co-ordinator in Toronto, only to win a Grey Cup as Saskatchewan’s head coach the next season.

With every hiring boom, there’s also an echo.

If Kavis Reed gets the top job in Edmonton, as media scoundrels across the land seem to be predicting, then Coach LaPo needs a new defensive boss, here.

Could Hall be available, or will he be interviewing for the head job in Regina?

We can only imagine the awkward conversations burning up the phone lines these next few weeks. The “ifs” and “buts” will be plentiful — and it’s still three weeks before Christmas.

By the way, word is the man who loved that saying, former Bomber boss Dave Ritchie, is getting back into the game, too, as a head coach in Switzerland, if you can believe that.

Not sure how that’ll work: a take-no-prisoners competitor like Ritchie in the land of neutrality.

Oh well, at least he’ll enjoy the cheese and the chocolate.

Hey, maybe Ritchie will need a couple of co-ordinators. Are you listening, Greg Marshall and Doug Berry?

The job security couldn’t be any worse.


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