Saskatchewan Roughriders' GM Brendan Taman is disputing Gary Lawless' report from Saturday that he's trying to fire head coach Corey Chamblin. Lawless reported that "a senior Riders' executive" told him Taman was set to propose firing Chamblin to team president Craig Reynolds in a meeting as early as Sunday. Taman did meet with Reynolds, but he told Saskatchewan media Monday afternoon that he, the president and the board support Chamblin:
"I met with (Corey) today and he is going about his business and he is going to be our coach going forward," Taman said. "Craig and the board and myself fully support that."
Rumblings about Chamblin's future had been out for a few weeks but a report by TSN's Gary Lawless on the weekend suggested that Taman was to approach the board about letting his head coach go.
Taman put the rumours to rest Monday, saying that Chamblin had "earned the right to turn this ship around and he is going to do everything he can to do that."
"He is the same guy I hired a few years back and I totally believe in him.
That's a lot of support for someone he was supposedly trying to fire, but in and of itself, it doesn't necessarily mean Lawless' report was inaccurate. It's notable that the report was only about Taman asking Reynolds for permission to fire Chamblin; it's possible that happened and that he was shot down, and that the public show of support for Chamblin now is just an attempt to defuse the situation. It's also possible that they agreed to wait until the end of the season before making a change (a possibility also left open in Lawless' report).
Moreover, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle sometimes applies to news as well as quantum mechanics, with observation changing that which is observed. It's possible Taman had every intention of asking Reynolds for permission to fire Chamblin, but elected to change course after the news leaked, as that leak made the team look anything but good. (This scenario also explains the motivation for that "senior Rider executive" to leak this in the first place; while the leak still hurts the organization, if that executive is a supporter of Chamblin, this apparent course reversal may have been the desired result.) It's notable that Lawless is standing by his reporting:
I respect what Brendan Taman has said today. That being said, I stand behind my report. 100 per cent.
— gary lawless (@garylawless) August 3, 2015
Of course, it's also possible that Lawless' report wasn't correct and that Taman and Reynolds are as supportive of Chamblin as they claim to be. That would fit more with Lawless' report from two weeks ago that Taman would refuse to fire Chamblin if asked to. It's also possible that the source didn't have as much information as they claimed, or that they deliberately fed Lawless false information. Those of us on the outside will likely never know for sure exactly what happened here, but we do know that the Riders seem intent on keeping Chamblin for now, with Taman saying that they can't have an ongoing head coach watch:
"It is just like the rest of us," Taman said with a snicker after being asked what the stability of Chamblin's post was. "When you are 0-6, that’s not a good thing but you can’t have a head coach watch every second day. That’s not healthy for the players or the organization."
This is probably the right move, as firings of Chamblin, Taman or both seemed very hasty despite the Riders' 0-6 start. This is a team that won the Grey Cup two years ago, after all, and while both Taman and Chamblin have made some questionable moves this year, they also both have an impressive overall record. Six games is too little time to really conclude much about a team (unless perhaps it's coached by Dan Hawkins), and it's notable that the Riders had a league-leading offence through five games (all of which were close losses) despite losing their starting quarterback in the first one. Their injuries are massive, especially now that QB Kevin Glenn has fallen, and those aren't Chamblin or Taman's fault.
However, the team's recent performance doesn't bode well for a turnaround. Now that they've lost both Darian Durant and Glenn, they've been forced to rely on inexperienced QBs Brett Smith and Tino Sunseri, and that didn't work out well at all in a 30-5 thumping by Edmonton Friday. This isn't some minor slump seen often, either; the Riders are 0-6 for the first time since 1979, and that's going to lead to a lot of pressure on Chamblin, Taman and others. The Riders may not decide to fire either or both of them, but that doesn't mean we won't see other dramatic changes, including perhaps pressure on Chamblin to give more defensive responsibility to others (such as titular defensive coordinator Greg Quick). It also doesn't mean that both of their jobs are safe forever if the team keeps losing. We'll see how this plays out during the rest of the season and heading into next year.