The Saskatchewan Roughriders shortlist for its next head coach is officially down to one: Greg Marshall.
Marshall, first an assistant and then coordinator for nearly two decades in the Canadian Football League, has been offered the head coaching job in Saskatchewan.
By Dec. 31 the four remaining finalists – Riders offensive coordinator Doug Berry, Montreal Alouettes offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich, Calgary Stampeders defensive backs coach Corey Chamblin and former Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall – were told they were out of the running to succeed Ken Miller as head coach of the two-time defending West Division champions.
That means the long wait is over for Marshall, a former Riders assistant and current Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive coordinator, to get his first head coaching position.
After previously being passed over for the top job in Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal, the former CFL defensive lineman is expected to be unveiled in early January as the 28th head coach of the Saskatchewan franchise in the modern era.
"Promising, but nothing has been finalized," said Marshall, cryptically on Thursday evening. "We’re in discussions, but nothing is done yet. It’s close."
But a CFL source was more revealing.
"All they need to do is dot some I’s and cross some T’s. Greg is the guy," the source told Sportsnet.ca.
Marshall was interviewed twice, in person in Regina, as was Chamblin, who quietly came in and out of the Roughrider headquarters with little fanfare throughout the month of December.
Milanovich had a two-day session in the Queen City earlier this month, meeting with Riders’ general manager Brendan Taman, vice president of football operations Ken Miller and team president Jim Hopson.
Berry, who was the play-caller for the third most efficient offence in franchise history last season, was Marshall’s boss in Winnipeg between 2006 and 2008. It is unknown if he would accept a job on Marshall’s staff if asked.
It is believed Marshall would want to keep some members of the 2010 Riders coaching staff. Among them is Alex Smith, who would be pegged as special teams coordinator. It would be stunning if Marshall would not try and pry defensive line coach Richard Harris from Winnipeg.
The two are close friends and worked together in Ottawa in 2005, then for the next three seasons with the Blue Bombers.
One of Bill MacDermott or Bob Wylie, two veteran offensive line coaches that Marshall was on staff with in Edmonton and Winnipeg, respectively, would be on his priority list to direct the group up front. What happens on the offensive side of the ball depends on who will be coordinator and if Berry can be convinced to remain in Saskatchewan.
Marshall and Hall are also quite close from their time working together with the Riders in the ‘90s.
Hall may very well end up being the team’s defensive coordinator if Marshall is able to convince him from going to Winnipeg and Hamilton – where there is said to be interest in his services.