CFL Pass

JONES: Eskimos mum as CFL chatter swirls around Scott Milanovich as new coach

When Rick Campbell rushed to sign up with Ed Hervey and the B.C. Lions, XFL assistant coach Jamie Elizondo was denied permission to talk to Edmonton and other head coach candidate Paul LaPolice took the job in Ottawa, Eskimos fans were getting concerned.

Then came the flurry of Twitter action Thursday morning until Farhan Lalji of TSN put a nail in it with the following tweet:

“Milanovich has agreed to a deal to become Eskimos next head coach.”

Scott Milanovich, as the 22nd head coach of the franchise that has won more Grey Cups and played in more Grey Cup games during their 71 years of history but played in fewer (1) during the last 14 years than any team in the league, was instantly applauded as the new hire from every corner of the league.

The Eskimos organization reaction was no reaction at all.

Media relations man Cliff Fewings reported general manager Brock Sunderland to be “unavailable.”

The news tied in nicely with a previous rumor that Eskimos general manager Brock Sunderland had taken a trip to Florida last week.

Also Mark Kilam, the Stampeders special teams coach thought to be a candidate, re-upped with Calgary Thursday.

Milanovich, currently QB coach of 4-9 NFL Jacksonville, won two Grey Cups as an assistant with Montreal and then was head coach when the Toronto Argos won Grey Cup 100 in 2012.

One thing you should know. The man can pick a coaching staff.

When he won with the 2012 Argos, Milanovich had Chris Jones as his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, Orlando Steinauer as secondary coach, Jason Maas coaching the quarterbacks and Stephen McAdoo coaching the offensive line.

Maas, now offensive coordinator in Saskatchewan, was head coach of the team he once won two Grey Cups with as back-up quarterback to Ricky Ray for the last four seasons, putting together a record of 39-33 but failing to finish higher than third and not providing a single home playoff game during his run.

Ray, who once told former Eskimos media relations director Dave Jamieson that Milanovich was the best coach he ever played for, might be in play to be a quarterback coach, although when he was here to be inducted to the Wall of Fame Ray indicated he was in no hurry to become a coach yet.

Defensive coordinator Phillip Lolley is the only member of the previous staff with a year left on his contract and after a successful first season in the job would be expected to be retained.

Lolley won a Grey Cup with Edmonton under Chris Jones in 2015. It’s interesting that speculation after the breaking Milanovich news was that Jones, who left Saskatchewan for an assistant coaching job with NFL Cleveland, was immediately being touted as a possible second hired-before-he’s-fired head coaching return to the CFL for the only remaining job opening in Toronto.