Greg Marshall takes over at the helm after spending last season as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive coordinator and assistant coach. The move seems to be popular here in a place where skepticism reigns supreme.
Marshall will be guiding the Riders into the 2011 campaign as a head coach for the first time. He got his first coaching job in the CFL with the Green and White back in 1994 as a defensive-line coach. In 1996 he was promoted to defensive coordinator with the Riders, a job he’s held with four other CFL teams following his first stint with Saskatchewan. In 2000, after leaving the Roughriders he coached in Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and finally Hamilton; the guy has been around.
So it begs the question: is Marshall’s travelling due to being a wanted man, or not wanted at all? Over the past week I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many great football minds across the province and it appears that the general consensus is that people are happy with the decision. Many feel as though despite being a CFL transient, moving from place to place, it was finally time for a team to give him the opportunity to be head coach.
But in a province that is football frenzied, and where fans question any decision made, I’m a little mystified as to why there is so little debate as to whether or not we’ve chosen the right guy for the job. As a side note, it’s interesting to point out that the three previous Rider coaches (Danny Barrett, Kent Austin and Ken Miller) were becoming head coaches for the first time as well. Greg Marshall is now the fourth consecutive head coach making his head-coaching debut in Saskatchewan. Remember the fuss made in this province over the previous three?
At this point we know this: Greg Marshall is a genius when it comes to assembling a tough defence. Players have the utmost respect for him. But will that translate to being a good leader of a team? I’m not sold just yet.
I’ll use the example of Richie Hall. For years, Hall was the defensive coordinator for the Riders; his defences were generally strong, until the last few minutes of the game, but he knew what he was doing. His head-coaching experiment in Edmonton was an absolute debacle. There’s something to be said about coaches moving from specialized areas to having to focus on the overall game.
And speaking of Richie Hall, it appears as though Marshall has hired him back on once again as defensive coordinator for the Riders. There are still huge question marks surrounding other coordinator positions, including offence and special teams coordinators.
Right now the locals are calm and quiet about the Marshall plan, but don’t expect that to last too long. One wrong decision in selecting other coaches to join this team, and the sharks will start circling.