Corey Chamblin is the first African-American to be named CFL coach of the year (CP)
Moments after being confirmed as the best in his biz, Corey Chamblin flashed back on a prophetic conversation he had with Jim Barker during his first season in the CFL.
Back in 2008, Chamblin, who on Wednesday collected the Annis Stukus Trophy as the cherry on the sundae of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' Grey Cup-winning season, was a young defensive backs coach with the Calgary Stampeders. As they prepped for the Grey Cup against the Montreal Alouettes, Barker offered a sage vote of confidence that tipped Chamblin toward staying in the league.
"Even when I got to the CFL, I didn't think I'd be a head coach as early as I did," said Chamblin, 36, who won the coach-of-the-year award over the Stampeders' John Hufnagel and his Grey Cup opponent, Hamilton's Kent Austin.
"Two people I would like to talk about there would be ['Riders GM] Brendan Taman, for thinking out of the box and giving me an opportunity to be a head coach [at the age of 35 in 2012]. The other is Jim Barker. I can remember, 2008 Grey Cup, sitting in the room breaking down film and he said, 'you'll be a better head coach than assistant coach. And if you decide to stay in this league and don't go to the NFL, you'll be a head coach.' I was like, 'Jim, you're crazy.' Jim and Brendan, I thought they were crazy but they know what they know and they saw what they saw in me.
"I recall he [Barker] said, 'You remind me of a guy, [former Super Bowl-winning coach] Mike Holmgren, you're going to be a better head coach than you are assistant if you decide to stay in this league.' I took that and I think that was something that opened my eyes. I should start preparing myself."
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