Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson doesn’t see the Calgary-Saskatchewan rivalry getting more intense now that his older brother has the same position with the Roughriders.
The Riders unveiled Craig Dickenson as their head coach Friday. He replaces Chris Jones, who resigned as Saskatchewan’s head coach/GM/defensive co-ordinator and vice-president of football operations Jan. 15 to join the NFL’s Cleveland Browns as an assistant.
Three days later, Saskatchewan promoted Jeremy O’Day from assistant vice-president of football operations and administration to GM and vice-president of football operations. O’Day’s first move was to promote Dickenson, a 47-year-old native of Great Falls, Mont., who’d previously been the Riders’ special teams co-ordinator.
Calgary hosts Saskatchewan in exhibition action May 31. Their first regular-season meeting comes July 6 in Regina.
"There’s been a big rivalry (between the teams) for a while now," Dave Dickenson said Friday via telephone from Calgary. "I enjoyed beating Saskatchewan and Jones and I know when they beat us, I was in a bad mood.
"I don’t personally feel it’s going to add anything there. It might get more Montana people in the stands. I have to admit, Saskatchewan has really established itself as one of the premier organizations and teams in the league for a while now. You know you’re going to have to beat them in order to get to where you want to. I think it’s been a great rivalry."
Dave Dickenson, 46, also felt the Riders were a big rival when he played quarterback with the B.C. Lions (2003-07).
"I’m going to compete my butt off as I’m sure he will too," Dave Dickenson said. "I’m not going to say I want to win any more or any less.
"I think it’s cool. Listen, there’s only so many of these head jobs and to have both of us doing it, obviously our parents should be proud. It shows they did a good job of getting us to where we wanted to get to."
Craig Dickenson spent the last three seasons as Saskatchewan’s special-teams co-ordinator, a position he’ll maintain in his new role. He also worked previously in that capacity in 2011-12.
Dickenson said he spoke to his brother about the Saskatchewan job.
"He said `Go for it, it’s a good job,"’ Craig Dickenson said. "When I told my dad the news, he was more excited than I expected so I think it means a lot to him.
"It’s going to be fun … we’ve competed our whole lives. Dave is very happy that I get this opportunity and I’m thrilled to be able to coach in the same league as my brother."
In 2010, Craig Dickenson served as an assistant special teams co-ordinator with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. He also held that position with the San Diego Chargers (2000-01).
Dickenson enters his 17th CFL season as a coach, having spent 14 as a special teams co-ordinator. He’s also worked with Montreal, Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton, winning Grey Cups with the Stampeders (’08) and Eskimos (’15).
Craig Dickenson follows in the footsteps of Ottawa’s Rick Campbell and Winnipeg’s Mike O’Shea as special teams co-ordinators to be hired as CFL head coaches.
"I’m biased but I think he’s more than qualified," Dave Dickenson said. "I think special teams coaches do a great job as head coaches because they already talk to the whole team, Rick and Mike have proven that.
"I think he might be as good a coach as I am, maybe better, but that doesn’t guarantee success. As a head coach, you’re dependant on your players and staff and you have to be the leader. But I don’t think Craig is going to have any problems because he’s a great communicator, a great teacher. He’s really good at setting expectations for people to follow his lead."
Craig Dickenson has a tough act to follow as Dave Dickenson has compiled a 41-11-2 regular season record with Calgary the past three years. He’s also led the Stampeders to three straight Grey Cup appearances, winning last year.
But plenty of questions remain with both teams. The Riders and Stamps have had multiple players leave for the NFL and neither franchise has a definite starting quarterback with CFL free agency set to begin Feb. 12.
There’s also labour uncertainty in the CFL. The league and its players have yet to begin contract talks with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in May.
"This is probably the hardest year to be a head coach … it’s a very, very challenging dynamic right now," Dave Dickenson said. "Neither one of us has a real idea of who’s going to play quarterback, both teams have lost significant people to the NFL and they obviously lost Jones as a coach.
"Big-time change but it’s exciting for us to. I think it will be exciting to go against each other."