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Riders Head Coach Candidates – Part 1 – Scott Milanovich & Mark Kilam

Published: Wednesday, Nov 22nd 2023, 11:11am

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


In this series of articles, I’m going to have a look at the top names being thrown around the most as potential head coaching candidates for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I hope General Manager Jeremy O’Day is doing his due diligence by talking to as many candidates as possible to see who lines up with the same vision as to where to take this team going forward and hopefully in the next week or so, we find out who the new head coach is here in Riderville.


First up, Scott Milanovich:


The safe hire. The more I think about it, the more I think that it’s pretty obvious the Riders are going to name Scott Milanovich the next head coach. All the signs point to him and really, it makes the most sense. Craig Reynolds hinted that the next head coach will have experience as a leader. Enter Milanovich. He apparently already had an interview with the Riders on Monday after Grey Cup, so he already has a leg up on the competition.


Once he took over play calling duties in Hamilton in 2023, they started winning games. He was set to be the Edmonton head coach in 2020 (with Trevor Harris) as his QB and Milanovich was the head coach of the Argos when Harris came into the league with Toronto. There is a ton of familiarity there and I have no doubts that they would work well together in Riderville. 


I’m definitely not opposed to Milanovich as the Riders head coach. Jeremy O’Day needs a win here (as does Craig Reynolds) and Milanovich gets them that. He’s a great football mind and would do a very good job. He’s not MY #1 pick (more on that later in the series), but he’s on my podium. If/when he gets announced as the new head coach of the Riders, the on field play will be vastly different than we’ve seen the last couple of seasons.


My only question is will the culture of the Saskatchewan Roughriders change enough with this hire to completely turn around the organization long term? I don’t know, but it would be a good start.


Next up, Calgary Stampeders Special Teams Coordinator Mark Kilam:


This is someone I wish I knew more about. What I do know, is that Mark Kilam has done a phenomenal job in his time with the Calgary Stampeders. Outside of a bad 2023 season, he knows what it takes to win in the CFL.


Kilam has learned under John Hufnagel and Dave Dickenson over the last two decades and even won his head coaching debut for the Stamps when Dickenson had to miss a game due to COVID. His three Grey Cup championships with Calgary are enough to want a piece of the action with him.


From what I’ve heard of Kilam from some of his former players (and current ones as well), he is someone you would run through a wall for. Players LOVE Coach Kilam and that’s absolutely important for the Riders and their hire right now. It was obvious that the players tuned out Craig Dickenson and lost respect for him. There was no accountability with him and I don’t get that vibe from Kilam.


That said, as much as he would be a good hire, I want absolutely nothing to do with a Special Teams guy right now. We just finished going through that era here in Saskatchewan with Craig Dickenson and that’s just a hard nope from me. I’m over it. This time around, I think the Riders need someone who specializes on offense, specifically one that has worked with quarterbacks.


Mark Kilam will get his time (and it will be long overdue), but it shouldn’t be here in Saskatchewan. He can have the Calgary job when Dave Dickenson leaves the bench and moves to General Manager only duties.


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