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O’Day, Reynolds confirm departure of Head Coach Craig Dickenson

Contract not renewed for Head Coach Dickenson, meanwhile Jeremy O’Day gets a three year extension as General Manager.

REGINA - General Manager Jeremy O’Day is staying but Head Coach Craig Dickenson is not, after an eventful last couple of days in the Saskatchewan Roughriders organization.

Both O'Day and Dickenson were at the end of their contracts, and their futures with the Riders were determined soon after a season-ending 29-26 loss to Toronto on Saturday. Sunday, Roughriders President Craig Reynolds told O'Day that he would be staying on with a three year extension.

Monday morning, O’Day then informed Dickenson he would not be staying on as head coach.

The news of changes with the Riders was expected, after a second straight 6-12 season that was punctuated by another seven game losing streak at the end of the schedule. There was speculation going into the final week that the jobs of Dickenson and even O'Day were in jeopardy. There were even calls from fans for Reynolds to also get the boot. But in the end, it was Dickenson alone who walked the plank.

In speaking to reporters Monday to confirm Dickenson's departure, O’Day pointed to the downturn of the club after the Labour Day game as the point when it became clear that change at the head coach position was needed

“I think that at a certain point in the season and when we were starting to go on a skid at the end of the year, you start to think about it a little bit more because you’re just not having success on the field,” said O’Day. 

“I don’t ever want to be on a team where you’re hoping to get in the playoffs and you’re having to scrape and claw to get into the playoffs. That’s not the goal of any organization, certainly not this one, is to hope that you can pull out a game at the end to get you into the playoffs. So you start to think about it when you go through times like that when your record gets to a certain point.”

At around the time of the games with the BC Lions and then the Labour Day game with Winnipeg, both of them home victories, O’Day said the team was playing “decent football — not great but decent football, and it looked as if we were going to improve as the year went on.”

“And when we looked at our schedule for the second half, it appeared that we certainly had an opportunity to make a run at it. So as that goes on, it becomes a little bit more clear that we don’t have the right mix.”

Craig Reynolds pointed to the need for stability at the general manager’s position during a head coach search as one reason for why O’Day was offered a three year contract. 

Reynolds also pointed to some of the successes O’Day has had in roster construction and in drafting and attracting free agency talent as a reason why he is being kept on.

“Jeremy O’Day is an outstanding General Manager in our league,” said Reynolds. “I’ve a lot of opportunity to talk to players in our league, players on our team, other coaches, other personnel in the league, and the one thing that comes through over and over again is the amount of respect that Jeremy has, how they respect him as a leader and how they respect him as a general manager.”

Reynolds also said he had faith O’Day would hire an outstanding head coach as well. As for the remaining assistant coaches and coordinators, they are all on one year contracts and their fates will be determined by the new coach once hired.

Both O’Day and Reynolds accepted responsibility for the state of affairs of the Riders this season.

“I want to send a message to Rider Nation. You know, it’s difficult when the season ends when you’re not in the playoffs and you haven’t reached the goals that you set out,” said O’Day. “So just wanted to say to the fanbase that we certainly appreciate the support that they show us. We know that we let you down this season and last season, and we need to be better, and we will be better. We just ask for the continued support, the same support that they’ve shown us for the longest time as,I can remember. We’ll work our butts off and make sure that we have a team on the field they can be proud of.”

“I just know that we let our fans down,” said Reynolds. “That weighs very, very heavily on me. I know it weighs very heavily on everybody in this organization. I know it weighs very heavily on Jeremy O’Day as well. We are committed to getting this right, and moving forward, and building a team that Rider Nation can be proud of.

O’Day’s statement in full:

“Yesterday, I was informed by the team that they were going to have me back as the general manager of the team. That happened yesterday. Early this morning I actually met with Coach Dickinson and informed him he wouldn’t be back as a head coach next season. That happened this morning. 

“I want to thank Coach Dickenson for all of his hard work, dedication, he really worked his butt off the last number of years. He gave 10 years of his career to the Roughriders and he’s an honourable person and worked his butt off, and I just wanted to thank him for all of his hard work and dedication to the Roughriders. 

“I also just  ask that everyone respects the type of person that he is, because he certainly showed it back, so I would appreciate everyone showing their respect. He handled it the same way that any of you would expect Coach Dickenson, to handle himself as a person, he’s just a great man and I wanted to thank him. 

“These are obviously not easy decisions when you are dealing with people who have been part of the organization for a long time, so it was a challenging last 48 hours and conversations you don’t really enjoy having with staff members you’re close with. But ultimately, I felt that it was the best decision to move our team forward was to make the decision to (not) have Coach Dickenson back. 

“Our search for the new head coach of the Roughriders will start immediately. That process will happen over the next number of weeks. I can’t give you a definite time of when we will have our head coach place, because we have to go through the process with requesting permission to talk to staff members from other teams. We’ll also go through a thorough evaluations of all of our football operations departments and the processes that we use with our football team. I think it’s important to do that after every year, just to make sure that we’re doing things the right way to our team to be successful on the field so will continue to do that after all the years.”

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