REGINA - Expect Toronto Argonauts defensive coordinator Chris Jones to be the next head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.
Ed Hervey won’t likely be introducing the replacement for Kavis Reed until about Dec. 10 in order to have him in place for the Ottawa expansion draft on Dec. 16.
But when that press conference comes, expect Jones to be named the 20th coach in Eskimos history.
The Eskimos’ general manager hasn’t completed initial interviews with all of the candidates. He says he has one remaining.
That’s likely former Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett, now coaching at Central Florida. Barrett’s season came to a conclusion this weekend.
“While waiting for candidates’ seasons to be over, I’ve done a lot of work finding coaches who have worked on staffs with two or three of the candidates getting opinions and impressions. And I’ve done the same with various players,? said Hervey.
Hervey was at the Grey Cup to see Eskimos equipment manager Dwayne Mandrusiak win the Commissioner’s Award. He said the fact that both the Calgary Stampeders and Argos were eliminated last weekend has put his search ahead of schedule.
“Three candidates became available to talk to this week,? Hervey said.
He admits those were Toronto’s Jones and Calgary’s offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson and defensive coordinator Rick Campbell.
“I expect to be down to my short list at the beginning of the week,? said Hervey of his first coaching search and hire.
“There will be four or five names on the list.?
Dickenson, it is believed, has decided to remain with head coach and GM John Hufnagel, much like Mike Benevides turned down head coaching opportunities to stay in B.C. before Wally Buono promoted Benevides as his replacement.
There’s every expectation Hervey’s short list will thus be:
While the one initial stage telephone interview with the remaining candidate might make that a five-man list, Hervey said he expects to spend next week proceeding to do in-person interviews.
“I will visit the remaining candidates as opposed to flying them in to Edmonton,? he said.
While those interviews could sway things, your correspondent is completely convinced that, if Hervey had to make the decision today, he’d choose Jones.
Campbell, son of Eskimos coaching and general manager legend Hugh Campbell, has been heavily rumoured to be the favourite, but I believe Hervey has concerns about how tough of a sell he would be to the fan base and, most importantly, who he might be able to deliver as his coordinators and coaching staff. With an unbelievable turnover of assistant coaches under Reed, Hervey is quite candid that’s his No. 1 priority.
LaPolice doesn’t seem like a fit for Hervey’s personality off his “Swaggerville? history in Winnipeg and reports him losing the dressing room there.
Bell, coaching at Jacksonville University, also rumoured to be a strong candidate in one report, is interesting. He’s a former Eskimos quarterback — if ever so briefly — and has been building a reputation as a coach.
But he’d likely be the long shot.
I’m convinced bringing in someone with Eskimos DNA isn’t in play here. Indeed, it might be a disadvantage.
Hervey, I believe, figures he has enough Eskimos DNA himself and is looking to find a winner with a solid staff that will work together and stay together long-term.
Jones has won championships as a coordinator in Montreal, Calgary and Toronto. During his 12 years in the league, his teams have never missed the playoffs and have appeared in nine division finals.
He has probably the best reputation of all the projected short-list candidates in evaluating talent and in being detailed as an organizer and being a coach who holds players accountable. The latter is another key area considering the Eskimos’ penalty problems under Reed.
Expect Chris Jones to be the next head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.