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Replacing Dickenson in Riderville – Who Should Coach Saskatchewan?

Published: Monday, Oct 23rd 2023, 2:10pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


He gave his own farewell to his players in his pregame speech on Saturday, Craig Dickenson is clearly on his way out of Saskatchewan. The soon-to-be former Head Coach of the Riders will either get his pink slip in the coming days, or more likely, General Manager Jeremy O’Day will just allow his contract to run out, so he isn’t the big meanie that fires someone.


Regardless, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be needing a new coach to lead the team. The question is, who should it be?


This team needs a complete culture change, so if were up to me, the entire management team would be gone. However, I don’t think that happens. I think O’Day is granted another contract (and I think that’s fair, I actually really like a lot of the talent he’s brought in and his Canadian Drafts have been excellent) and that changes what I think will actually happen. That said, if I was the one making the decisions, these would be the coaches I’d be calling yesterday about the upcoming vacant head coaching position in Saskatchewan:


1. Jordan Maksymic – Offensive Coordinator, BC Lions – This is the guy I’d want to speak to first and offer the job to first. What he’s done in BC, especially with the quarterbacks over the last couple of seasons has been remarkable. He made Nathan Rourke a star, Vernon Adams Jr. had his best season as a starter and really took that next step in his career, they’ve had the most explosive offense in the league and a ton of credit needs to go to Jordan Maksymic for it. Recently, the Riders have gone with defensive minded head coaches up until they kind of got stuck with Craig Dickenson. It’s time for a shift. With an aging Trevor Harris and a young Jake Dolegala, it’s time for the Riders to focus on that side of the ball. I really think a younger head coach is needed and this is the time to make Maksymic your guy.


2. Corey Mace – Defensive Coordinator, Toronto Argonauts – Okay, I know I just said that the Riders need to go with an offensive minded coach and I know Corey Mace just re-upped his contract with the Toronto Argonauts, but you still have to inquire. I love seeing Mace on the sidelines, he relates to his players (heck, he played with quite a few of them with the Calgary Stampeders) and he gets the best out of them. It won’t be long before Mace is a head coach in this league, he has that special something to be one. He’s young, he has great leadership and I’d be thrilled if he ended up here. I think there’s a better chance of Kent Austin coming back than there is Mace coming here, but still, you kick the tires.


3. Buck Pierce – Offensive Coordinator, Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Another one that I don’t think happens and is all dependent on what the Bombers do with their current Head Coach Mike O’Shea. If General Manager Kyle Walters isn’t retained, O’Shea makes the move to GM and Pierce is the new head coach in Winnipeg… at least that’s what the succession plan appears to look like. If that doesn’t roll out as planned, I’d be all in on Buck Pierce. Like Jordan Maksymic, Pierce has taken the Blue Bombers offense to the top of the league and I think he’d do wonders with Harris & Dolegala next year.


4. Scott Milanovich – Senior Offensive Assistant (Coordinator), Hamilton Tiger Cats – Now we’re getting into the name that I actually think is front runner, assuming that Jeremy O’Day is still the GM of the Riders for 2024. 3 Down Nation’s Justin Dunk told Jamie Nye of The Green Zone that he’s hearing Scott Milanovich is having his name discussed as a front runner for the green and white gig. And it makes sense. Milanovich was going to be the head coach of the Edmonton Elks in 2020 with Trevor Harris as his QB, so there is some familiarity there already with those two. Since Milanovich took over the play calling in Hamilton, the Ticats turned their season around and are one of the hotter teams going into the playoffs. I wouldn’t be upset if Milanovich is the next head coach of the Riders, I think he’d do a good job, after all, he does have a Grey Cup as a head coach (and two more as an OC) in the league… he does know what it takes to win.


5. Ryan Phillips – Defensive Coordinator, BC Lions – I don’t think the Riders go this route, but I’d for sure be checking in on the interest of Ryan Phillips. While I’d still prefer an offensive mind, I would not mind a hire of Phillips one bit. I think in time he’ll be a very good head coach in the CFL. I still think it’s few years away, but if it came down to it, I’d absolutely welcome Phillips as the new leader of the green and white.


I do think names like Khari Jones and Paul LaPolice will also be floating around, but I really hope that the Riders don’t go those routes. They just aren’t those guys anymore… but I sure wouldn’t be surprised if Jeremy O’Day hired one of them. I’m used to disappointment from this team, so I’m pretty much ready for it again.


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