The coach who won the Grey Cup last Sunday is leaving to take over a 3-15 reclamation project, but he'll do so with the authority of both a head coach and a general manager. The coach in question is Edmonton Eskimos' head coach Chris Jones, who interviewed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders this weekend and left the CFL hanging on his next move. That move has now come, as TSN's Gary Lawless and Ryan Rishaug reported Sunday night that Jones has taken the Riders' job and will be their next head coach and general manager:
Jones and [Roughriders' president Craig] Reynolds, along with a few other key Riders execs, met in Calgary last Friday. The meeting closed with the Riders telling Jones they would make a decision over the weekend.
The parties spent most of Sunday hammering out a contract and news of the deal broke late that night.
Jones will be announced to the Riders-mad province of Saskatchewan on Monday in Regina.
This move isn't going over so well with Eskimos like defensive end Odell Willis Here's what Willis tweeted Sunday afternoon before news of the deal:
Dear Santa all I want for Christmas is my Coach Chris Jones back #Thanks
— Odell Willis (@KuntryKane205) December 6, 2015
And what he tweeted afterwards:
— Odell Willis (@KuntryKane205) December 7, 2015
Receiver Shamawd Chambers, the Grey Cup's Most Valuable Canadian, also seemed stunned:
Damn crazy week.
— IAmShamawdChambers (@ShamawdChambers) December 7, 2015
The Eskimos' head-coaching job is now open, and it's going to be interesting to see where they go with it. Do they keep things internal, with the promotion of someone like offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo, or do they go to one of the hot assistant coaches elsewhere in the CFL such as Ottawa's Jason Maas (a former Eskimo; also, Hamilton's Orlondo Steinauer has taken himself out of the running), or do they pull a previous head coach out of the ranks of TSN analysts such as Paul LaPolice or Mike Benevides, or do they go off the board and hire a U.S. coach without CFL experience in an attempt to find the next Marc Trestman? Meanwhile in Regina, it will be interesting to see how Jones handles his newfound authority (he's just the third current HC/GM across the league, joining Hamilton's Kent Austin and B.C.'s Wally Buono; Calgary's John Hufnagel has moved to just GM status this offseason) and who he keeps or brings in as coordinators and assistants. The head coaching job in Saskatchewan has been filled, though, so all eyes watching the top coaching search now turn to Edmonton GM Ed Hervey to see how he plans to replace Jones. We'll see what he does.