Wanted: Fearless Charismatic Leader

The Eskimos organization is at a little bit of a crossroads. They can either write off the season, keep the current management team in place, and sort out the pieces in the off-season, or they can get a replacement general manager in place in short order and not waste a moment resurrecting this once proud franchise that was the envy of the CFL. The catch is that they may have already accomplished the goal of replacing Danny Maciocia and just haven’t made it official. Confused? Let’s take a look at some potential candidates to fill the post of general manager and it might become a little more clear.

The below list is in no particular order so don’t read anything it that.

Eric Tillman

Let’s get former Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Eric Tillman out of the way. Although one of the best CFL football minds currently not employed within the league, Tillman’s recent legal troubles are still a little too fresh for him to considered in a position where he will constantly be in front of the media. The organization needs someone who they can put out there without fear of any skeletons in the closet. Does Tillman deserve a second chance being employed in the CFL? Most definitely, but the situation in Edmonton is not a good fit.

Ed Hervey

Some would point to assistant general manager Paul Jones as a possible replacement from within, but Jones works out of Louisiana and does his best work scouting and recruiting future talent for the organization. Ed Hervey is a proven winner and as someone who has played for the Green & Gold, has credibility at all levels of the organization. He also resides in Edmonton, which helps his chances considerably. The knock on Hervey is that he has only been the Esks head scout for a couple of years and has no other experience inside the head office. The learning curve would be steep, and the organization might be better suited going with a more experienced person.

Duane Forde

The TSN analyst has an extensive resume in Canadian football, from winning the Vanier Cup as a player with the University of Western in 1989, to playing 12 seasons in the CFL before finally working in the media covering football in Canada since 2003. Although he has not worked in the front office of any team in the CFL, Forde is one of the most knowledgeable people in Canada when it comes to both professional and amateur football. From a football operations point of view, he might be one of the best candidates available.

Neil McEvoy

The long time assistant general manager of the BC Lions has plenty of experience in the CFL at dealing with contract issues, assessing talent, and developing a roster as Wally Buono’s right hand man. McEvoy started out with the Lions in the ticket sales department in 1995 before moving over to football operations in 1997. Since that time he has been involved in finding and recruiting talent to the Lions organization while also working with the coaching staff on game preparation. Since joining the Lions, McEvoy has won two Grey Cups in 2000 and 2006.

Marcel Desjardins

Over the past decade, no other team has enjoyed as much success in the CFL as the Montreal Alouettes, and Desjardins has been a key member of a football operations department that continues to produce one of the most dominating lineups in the CFL. Desjardins has been employed in the CFL since 1994, serving five years with the league office before moving over to the Montreal organization as an assistant in the football operations department. He also served as general manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2007 before rejoining the Alouettes organization the following year. Although an exceptional candidate, it might be difficult to convince Desjardins to move out west and leave a pretty stable position.

Kevin McDonald

Most fans who look inside the league office for a possible replacement might consider Tom Higgins, the director of officiating, as someone who could fill the role. He does have experience within the organization and the CFL does have a history of recycling its people through various organizations, but bringing back Higgins might not be the best situation for an organization looking for a new approach. McDonald is a legitimate candidate who has worked in the league office for many years and been directly involved in the player development aspect of the league. The director of football operations might be someone who can bring a fresh approach to the team while already knowing all of the basic information about the league that someone brought in from the outside would have to learn.

Warren Moon

Although Moon has all but said that he is not interested in the job, he’s on the list if the Eskimos choose to revisit their past to find their next general manager. Moon, who currently works in Seattle covering the Seahawks of the NFL, has been out of the CFL on a day-to-day basis for quite some time and it would take a couple months to get him up to speed. That being said, arguably the best quarterback ever to play in Edmonton would certainly bring a large dose of football credibility to the table.  

Who will it be?

While Tillman, Forde, and Moon are the most recognized names on the list, they might not be the best candidates for a variety of reasons. Promoting Ed Hervey is an interesting idea, but with only limited experience in the front office, he might be better served to apprentice for a few more years under someone else. The two names on the list that are really intriguing are Desjardins and McEvoy, as both have extensive CFL experience in winning organizations and have worked alongside highly regarded football minds like Buono and Montreal general manager Jim Popp. Hopefully the Esks can find their man soon as the organization, along one win better this week, still has a long ways to go before they will once again be considered among the CFL’s elite.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by TurfToe on August 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I have to ask… what’s the rush? Seriously. The bulk of a GM’s duties are done in the off season. Until then the team approach the Esks will use with Jones, McKinnon and Hervey will not only suffice but will cause less upheaval.

    I would much rather see the organization make a good pick for the GM post, rather than a quick fix. The latter rarely pays dividends.

    Of course, should an ideal candidate pop up, then by all means bring him on board. But even so, bringing on a GM during the season doesn’t mean making more radical changes – unless the team is mired in problems.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Ravnos on August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I don’t really have an opinion on most of these guys yet, but I specifically don’t like the Moon suggestion. Nothing against the guy, but I’d prefer someone come in with some recent experience in the CFL, either as a GM or in a position where they would have dealt with the GM regularly and picked up knowledge of the position. Moon would be a boon to the team as far as publicity goes, but without a track record, no dice. I don’t want the Eskimos to wind up like the 2000’s Oilers, constantly hiring guys from the “glory days”, and I certainly wouldn’t want Moon to come to Edmonton and wind up viewed by the fanbase the same way many Oilers fans view Kevin Lowe these days.

    Of course, if he wanted to come over and work his way up through the organization, I don’t think anyone would say no to that. I’m just saying, maybe suggesting him for the top job right away is being hasty. I respect the guy’s legacy too much, I’d hate to see him wind up like some of the dynasty Oilers did.

    Reply

  3. @TurfToe

    I agree about taking the time to make the right choice, but making the decision sooner rather than later would probably benefit the Esks in the long run. It not so much about rushing a decision as not letting the position sit vacant for too long. A general manager’s duties are ongoing although the bulk of the heavy lifting is done during the off-season. If the Esks wait until after the season, it makes it that much harder for the new GM to get established within the organization. A replacement during the bye week too much to ask for?

    @Ravnos

    I don’t think Warren Moon is a serious candidate, but I had to throw him in there as I have heard his name mentioned several times. The organization would probably be best served by bringing in someone who has a current working knowledge of the CFL and its players. 100% agree with not wanting to see Moon’s legacy tarnished.

    Reply

  4. Posted by tt on August 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    bring back Higgins

    Reply

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