All indications are that O'Shea will return as coach of Bombers next season
There are still details to be worked out, particularly when it comes to salary, but all indications are that Mike O’Shea will be back as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers next season.
Asked on Friday to give a percentage of how likely it is that he’ll return to the Grey Cup champions, O’Shea said “It’s pretty high.”
“We had a good chat this morning and we’ll continue that.
“We just won a Grey Cup so we’ve got a good group here. It’s been a great journey, being a part of this. It has taken longer than I thought, but it’s neat to be a part of building something, so, I do like it here.”
O’Shea has been head coach of the Bombers for six seasons. The team made the playoffs in the last four of those seasons and finally won the CFL championship last Sunday, with 33-12 domination of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Calgary.
There are already three openings for head coaching positions in the CFL after Jason Maas was fired in Edmonton, Devone Claybrooks was canned in B.C., and Rick Campbell stepped down in Ottawa.
There have also been rumours the Toronto Argonauts are interested in O’Shea, who played for that organization for 10 seasons.
However, O’Shea said he hasn’t even had time to look at what else is going on around the league.
“I haven’t given a lot of thought to that,” he said during his season-ending media availability Friday at IG Field. “Obviously, there’s been a lot of business to take care of, post-season, like any post-season. And winning the Grey Cup changes a lot of that. The way American Thanksgiving fell, we didn’t get a chance to have a true end-of-year meeting with the entire team, the staff. We’re trying to get exit meetings done with the players who are still here. So I’m not too concerned with what’s going on around the league. I’m still trying to look after our business here.”
Bombers general manager Kyle Walters said before the Grey Cup that he and O’Shea had looked one another in the eye and said they wanted him to be back.
Of course, it’s not that easy.
O’Shea has earned a raise and the Bombers need to figure out a way to pay him appropriately and stay within the CFL football operations salary cap.
They may get some help in that area.
Offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice has already been asked to interview for the open positions in Ottawa, Vancouver and Edmonton.
“And he should,” O’Shea said. “He’s been excellent. He’s managed to move game plans around and use the talent of the roster to the best of his abilities, put guys in great positions to allow us to win games and be very successful through the playoff run and the Grey Cup.
“I don’t know that he’d have any regrets, really. Any good play-caller, offensively or defensively and special teams-wise, will always check what they do for validity after the fact and I’m sure, for the most part, our staff won’t have too many regrets, the way the playoffs went, the way the calls went.”
It was also reported this week that the Montreal Alouettes have asked the Bombers for permission to speak to assistant general manager Danny McManus and director of college scouting Ryan Rigmaiden as they look to fill their general manager position.
“You’re drawn naturally to champions,” O’Shea said. “There’s a reason why we’ve had success and that’s because there’s a lot of people working very hard to do their jobs to make sure they make this a better place. One of the names, (assistant general manager) Ted Goveia, should be in that conversation, too.
“There’s coaches that are being looked at for other positions, there’s players that are being called about and there’s staff members that should be looked at for other roles and positions in other organizations. I think we’re starting to realize that’s what other organizations go through every year. I’m sure Calgary has to put up with this every single year. It’s a positive.”
If LaPolice does move on to take a head coaching position, there’s a good chance quarterbacks coach Buck Pierce will be elevated to the role of offensive co-ordinator with the Bombers.
Of course, getting their coaching staff in order is only part of the problem the Bombers face this off-season.
They also have 25 potential free agents, including all three of their quarterbacks — Matt Nichols, Zach Collaros and Chris Streveler — who started games this season.
Next year, each CFL roster will include only two quarterbacks, which will complicate matters.
“Well, right now it’s you and me playing quarterback,” O’Shea said to a reporter, generating much laughter.
“We’ll figure out the quarterback situation as we go along. It does make it a little tougher, obviously. You do remember the fact that they all want to be starters, so I think in any situation when you’ve got that many guys that are able to start sitting in a room, that someone’s gonna go find another job somewhere.”
Defensive stars Willie Jefferson and Winston Rose and offensive linemen Stanley Bryant, Jermarcus Hardrick, Paddy Neufeld and Michael Couture are among the other high-profile potential free agents.
“Every team has a lot of work to do,” O’Shea said. “Once the one-year contracts came into effect with the league and the players association, there has been a lot of work for every team.”
MIKE O’SHEA’S COACHING RECORD
W L RESULT
2014 7 11 Missed playoffs
2015 5 13 Missed playoffs
2016 11 7 Lost West semi
2017 12 6 Lost West semi
2018 10 8 Lost West final
2019 11 7 Won Grey Cup