55 Yard Line

CIS Corner: Gary Etcheverry facing player unrest with Ottawa Gee-Gees — sources

Neate Sager
55 Yard Line

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Ottawa Gee-Gees coach Gary Etcheverry (rodpedersen.com)

Gary Etcheverry's determination to be different appears to have created deep differences with Ottawa Gee-Gees players.

As of late Tuesday night, there was no clear resolution to a reported rift between the former CFL head coach and the Gee-Gees. Under Etcheverry, whose hiring in May raised eyebrows, Ottawa is off to a shambolic 0-4 start that has put it at serious risk of missing the Canadian Interuniversity Sport playoffs for the first time in about two decades. Multiple sources confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that University of Ottawa assistant athletics director Colin Timm spent at least four hours Tuesday mediating a meeting between the much-travelled Etcheverry (whose previous head-coaching stints have been less than successful) and the team's senior leaders. Players also ran a spread offence during a practice where several coaches were absent instead of practising Etcheverry's double-wing offence, which has yet to produce the desired results. (Ottawa has been outscored 190-97.)

(Update: Etcheverry is still head coach while Ottawa administrators are "taking it one game at a time." The double wing is going to be complemented by some elements of the spread offence.)

It's expected there will be some changes as soon as Wednesday. It's hazy what exactly that means for Etcheverry and the Gee-Gees ahead of their scheduled road game on Saturday in Kingston, Ont., vs. No. 5-ranked Queen's. Ottawa, which is two games out of a playoff spot with four remaining, also still has to play No. 6 Western.

"He'll be gone by the end of the Queen's game... 100 per cent," a source said of Etcheverry.

University of Ottawa director of sport services Luc Gélineau is reportedly on vacation this week, which further complicates the story. How it shakes out depends on how adamant veteran Gee-Gees players are about demanding changes. Many were part of a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 in Canadian university football in 2010 when then-QB Brad Sinopoli won the Hec Crighton Trophy as CIS' outstanding player.

Ottawa is the OUA's lone winless team  despite the fact Etcheverry inherited a roster with nearly every starter back from a team which finished fourth in the league last fall under then-coach Jean-Philippe Asselin, who's since headed down the Rideau Canal to join the revived Carleton Ravens program. The Gee-Gees are seventh in offence and ninth in defence in the 10-team OUA.  They are also dead last in pass offence and pass defence.

Etcheverry's breadth and depth of football knowledge is beyond reproach, but he has often engendered criticism. Taking the Gee-Gees' reins fulfilled his long-time goal to oversee a CIS program. And it is also quite possible disenchantment among current players and Ottawa football alumni centres on more than the head coach, seeing as Etcheverry is the team's third in the past four seasons. The results, or lack thereof, speak volumes, though, especially with the spectre of being challenged locally for attention and recruits by the well-financed upstarts at Carleton, who are slated to begin OUA play in 2013.

Suffice to say, the next 24 to 48 hours could be surreal for the Gee-Gees.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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