The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are looking for a new head coach, have received permission from the Toronto Argonauts to speak to special teams coach Mike O’Shea about interviewing for the vacant position, sportsnet.ca has learned.
A source indicated that O’Shea is one of several candidates the Riders want to interview, but topping their list is Hamilton defensive co-ordinator Corey Chamblin, who interviewed for the Riders’ job last year but was passed over in favour of Greg Marshall. He was the Ticats’ defensive co-ordinator at the time.
Chamblin left the Calgary Stampeders as defensive backs coach to fill Marshall’s spot. Marshall was fired midway through the season and replaced by Ken Miller, who had hired him after stepping down as head coach to work solely as the team’s vice-president of football operations. Miller retired after the season and has been replaced by his assistant Brendan Taman, who served as the team’s GM, a role which at the time was more about finding personnel and signing contracts but without final say on matters such as hiring a coach. Taman now has that role as part of a move toward a more traditional football operation setup.
It is expected that whomever Taman hires it will be someone young, following a recent trend in the CFL, and possibly without previous head coaching experience. He said last week he will take as long as it takes to get the right candidate. He already has a good understanding of Chamblin from his interview last year, which was considered impressive. Sources say Taman has quietly let it be known that Chamblin is his first choice.
There have been rumours circulating for some time that O’Shea could be in line to succeed Argo general manager/head coach Jim Barker, who would relinquish his coaching role to concentrate on managing football operations. But the fact Barker didn’t immediately forfeit the title after the season indicates that he might not be ready to give up his coaching duties or that the decision is not his to make. Barker had a disappointing 6-12 record this season after going 9-9 last year and winning the first round of the playoffs. He was named the CFL Coach of the Year after the season.
O’Shea, second all-time in the CFL in career tackles and first among Canadian players, began his coaching career in 2010, appointed as the Argos’ special teams coach. However, it became apparent Barker leaned on him as his primary assistant. O’Shea won respect from players and the football fraternity for the interesting schemes he devised and the success the Argos had in executing them.
The Argos fired their defensive co-ordinator midway into the 2011 season and appointed defensive backfield coach Orlondo Steinauer to the position in the interim. O’Shea might have been the more logical choice, but it would have required the Argos giving him two roles or subtracting his special teams job.
A source told sportsnet.ca that O’Shea’s name has been whispered as a candidate for other jobs, possibly the University of Guelph. He was revered there as a star player.