There are days when it seems like The O.C. (the search) might end up running longer than The O.C. (the series).
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As of this writing, the Roughriders’ payroll did not yet include the name of a living, breathing play-caller, but there has nonetheless been a notable emphasis on passing.
Marc Mueller. PASS.
Khari Jones. PASS.
Jarious Jackson. PASS.
Markus Howell. PASS.
How did this all come to pass? Long story.
Mueller was interviewed for the position, only to withdraw his good name from consideration in order to stay put as the Calgary Stampeders’ quarterbacks coach.
Jones visited Regina to chat with Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson and friends, only to sign on with the Ottawa Redblacks as their offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach.
Jackson — the Edmonton Elks’ quarterbacks coach and pass game co-ordinator — declined a request to be interviewed for the Roughriders’ O.C. job, per a report by TSN’s Dave Naylor.
Howell was likewise disinclined to be wooed by the Roughriders, according to 3DownNation.com’s John Hodge and will remain with the Elks as their run-game co-ordinator and receivers coach.
When the Elks — winners of just seven of their past 32 games — are deemed to be a preferred employer, it is painfully evident that the once-lustrous Saskatchewan green has lost its sheen.
Under different circumstances, perhaps the offensive co-ordinator’s position would be of greater allure.
Anyone who has even a modicum of interest in Canadian professional football can detect a wariness on the part of at least some of the prospective offensive co-ordinators.
The problem doesn’t necessarily stem from the presence of Dickenson and general manager Jeremy O’Day, but rather from their contractual situations.
Following the 6-12 season of 2022, Dickenson and O’Day were neither terminated nor effusively endorsed.
They were simply allowed to stick around to complete their contracts, which are to expire after the 2023 season.
Of course, the axe could fall much earlier than that, should the Roughriders’ recent woes — six straight defeats in the supposedly friendly confines of Mosaic Stadium, plus seven straight losses overall to conclude an agonizing 2022 campaign — bleed over into next summer.
Given the tenuous job security of Dickenson and O’Day, many coaches with options will steer clear of an organization stuck in neutral. The climate being what it is, the Roughriders are reportedly left with two options — Kelly Jeffrey and Pete Constanza.
Both gentlemen have been interviewed twice by Dickenson, et al, according to 3DownNation’s John Hodge. The most-recent conversations took place on Wednesday.
Neither one of them would be a marquee hire — the name recognition does not rival that of Mueller or Jones — but the Roughriders should nonetheless be poised to hire someone who does possess excellent credentials.
Constanza is on a roll, having recently celebrated a Grey Cup championship thanks to the Toronto Argonauts’ 24-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Mosaic Stadium. Such was the glorious conclusion to Costanza’s first season as the Argonauts’ receivers coach and pass-game co-ordinator.
He also boasts CFL experience with the Blue Bombers (for whom he was the running backs coach in 2020 and 2021) and Stampeders (receivers coach, 2008 to 2019).
Overall, Costanza has been a part of five Grey Cup championship teams — one more than the Roughriders have fielded since the franchise’s inception as the Regina Rugby Club in 1910.
Although Jeffrey’s CFL curriculum vitae isn’t nearly as lengthy as that of Costanza, there is a wealth of coaching experience when the entire equation is assessed.
Jeffrey recently completed his first season as the Roughriders’ running backs coach. He has had previous CFL stops in Toronto (special-teams co-ordinator, 2016) and Edmonton (quarterbacks coach and special-teams assistant, 2020).
Reminder: The 2020 CFL season did not proceed, a consequence of COVID-19. But at least Edmonton went an entire year without losing a home game.
Prior to joining the Elks, Jeffrey spent 10 seasons at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.
(Snide aside: In 2022, Mosaic Stadium might as well have been known as Sackville, considering that the Roughriders quarterbacks Cody Fajardo, Mason Fine and Jake Dolegala were collectively felled a league-worst 77 times.)
Jeffrey was the Mount Allison Mounties’ head coach for the final eight years of his 10-season stay at that university. He was named U Sports’ coach of the year in 2014.
Before ascending to the head-coaching role, he had co-ordinated the Mounties’ offence and special teams for two seasons.
Previously, Jeffrey was the head coach and offensive co-ordinator at Mayville State University, where he spent four seasons.
By the time Jeffrey left Mayville, N.D., he had been coaching in the American college ranks for a decade — beginning with the two years in which he was the receivers coach at Dickinson State University.
The resume is long, much like the wait for the Roughriders to finally unveil The O.C.
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