Mon Jan 10 12:01am EST
Now that Greg Marshall's officially taken over as the head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the focus has shifted to his staff. The most interesting decision he may have to make is at defensive coordinator, where incumbent candidate Gary Etcheverry took plenty of criticism this year. Etcheverry's unit performed well in the crucial playoff moments, but notable candidates like Richie Hall (pictured above) and Corey Chamblin (who both interviewed for the Riders' head coaching position) are out there and getting plenty of attention. That attention appeared to coalesce into something more Saturday, when Sportsnet's Perry Lefko reported that multiple sources have told him Hall has joined the Riders as defensive coordinator.
"There had been a report Saturday that Hall was returning to the Roughriders as defensive co-ordinator under newly hired head coach Greg Marshall. A source with the Riders said Sunday that reports of Hall's hiring were premature and added that Marshall is continuing to work on his staff personnel. Hall didn't return messages on Sunday."
On the surface, those stories would seem to indicate two very different things. However, on closer examination, it's possible that there's truth to both of them. Lefko's exact line is "Richie Hall has joined Saskatchewan rookie head coach Greg Marshall as defensive co-ordinator", and that certainly doesn't seem to be the case at this point in time. If it's only the timing of the move Lefko got wrong, though, that would fit with McCormick's source not calling the reports wrong, but rather labeling them as "premature". It's also possible that Marshall has asked Hall to come back to Regina and Hall has agreed, but the contract details haven't been worked out yet; in that case, you could argue he "has joined" Marshall but hasn't yet been formally hired. Given the almost week-long gap between the reports of Marshall's hiring and the formal announcement, it's easy to envision a similar delay for his staff.
Of course, there's also the possibility that the Riders aren't going to go with Hall at all. It's certainly not like their options are terribly limited; even if they elect not to bring back Etcheverry, there are plenty of capable position coaches within the organization and around the league who could be promoted. They could also bring in someone from the CIS or NCAA ranks. The Riders' front office staff does seem quite intent on doing thorough searches, and I'm sure they have plenty of candidates on their board. We'll see if Hall winds up being the one they pick in the end or not; all we know for now is that he hasn't been officially chosen yet.