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Argos’ special teams coordinator Mike O’Shea announced as Bombers’ new head coach

Andrew Bucholtz
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Former Argos' ST coordinator Mike O'Shea is Winnipeg's new head coach.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers finally have their coach, and the Toronto Argonauts have lost yet another member of their organization. Winnipeg officially introduced Argos' special teams coordinator Mike O'Shea as their new head coach Wednesday. O'Shea's received substantial consideration for head coaching jobs before, including from Saskatchewan and Hamilton in the 2011-12 offseason, so it's not that surprising that he's eventually landed a top job, especially as he was widely rumoured to be the Bombers' top choice. The key questions now are how he'll do as a head coach and how the Argonauts will replace him.

O'Shea represents an intriguing hire for the Bombers, as he's one of the few coaches to ascend to the head job from a special teams role. Almost every other current CFL head coach has come in from an offensive or defensive coordinator position, whether outside the league (Calgary GM/HC John Hufnagel's last previous job was as an NFL OC) or inside it (B.C.'s Mike Benevides, Edmonton's Chris Jones and Saskatchewan's Corey Chamblin were all CFL DCs immediately before their current jobs, while Toronto's Scott Milanovich was a CFL OC and Hamilton's Kent Austin was a CFL OC before his first CFL HC job in 2007). The only exception is Montreal GM/HC Jim Popp, who's never been a CFL OC or DC, but has spent decades in the league as a GM. Benevides and former Edmonton head coach Kavis Reed both were special teams coordinators at one point, but both of them worked as a DC before jumping up to a head-coaching role. That's a trend that applies south of the border, too; a study I did a few years back of NFL coaching changes from 2005-2009 found only one coach who came in from a special teams background, the Ravens' John Harbaugh (and he was also working with defensive backs before getting the head job). Harbaugh's proven to be very successful, though, so we'll see if O'Shea can do the same.

O'Shea certainly has earned plenty of respect around the league during his last four years as the Argos' ST coordinator and has been widely mentioned as a head-coaching candidate. Will that be enough, though? Well, a lot may depend on who he brings in as offensive and defensive coordinators. O'Shea definitely has a strong defensive background from his 16 years as a CFL linebacker, so he should have plenty of input on that side of the ball, but he hasn't done much work on offence. There are intriguing OC candidates out there, though, including the most-mentioned one, former Winnipeg QB and current Saskatchewan QB coach Khari Jones (who was also a candidate for the Bombers' top job). If Jones can accept working under O'Shea, he might be able to get the Winnipeg offence clicking. There are plenty of other coordinator possibilities too, including Saskatchewan OC George Cortez and former Winnipeg OC Marcel Bellefeuille. We'll see what direction O'Shea goes in, but his OC pick may have a substantial impact on his success or failure as a head coach.

What about the Argonauts? They've suffered a lot of losses this offseason, with O'Shea taking over in Winnipeg, player personnel director Ted Goveia joining him as an assistant general manager and DC Chris Jones taking over as the head coach in Edmonton. One of those spots appears close to filled, as there have been substantial solid reports that former Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke will take Jones' DC role, but that hasn't been made official yet. There's no word on replacements for Goveia or O'Shea yet. It's going to be an offseason of change for GM Jim Barker and HC Scott Milanovich, though, and they'll have to find solid replacements if they want to keep the Double Blue afloat. These head coaching jobs represent great opportunities for O'Shea and Jones, but they'll definitely be missed in Toronto.

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