'Catching up': New Eskimos head coach Milanovich getting reintroduced to CFL
We’ve known for almost a month Scott Milanovich is replacing Jason Maas as Edmonton Eskimos head coach . But what about the rest of the coaching staff?
It turns out, we might not have to wait much longer.
“We’re very close. We’ll have some announcements real soon,” Milanovich said during the media window of the CFL winter meetings, which kicked off Tuesday in Blue Mountain, Ont.
It’s the point in the off-season where head coaches, general managers and league commissioner Randy Ambrosie gather to go over official business and take some initial steps in deciding what’s been working and what hasn’t.
But for Milanovich, who has returned to the ranks of CFL head coach after spending the past three years on the coaching staff of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars – whose season wasn’t yet over when he was hired by the Eskimos – the meetings offer a crash course at reintroducing himself to the three-down mosaic.
“Catching up. Absolutely,” said the 46-year-old whose last CFL job was head coach of the Toronto Argonauts from 2012-16. “We didn’t do this back then, it was just a GMs and owners meeting.”
As for changes in the CFL game itself, Milanovich, whose ink is still drying on his current contract, hasn’t even had a chance to notice any.
“Actually, I just finished with the Jaguars and I’ve been working on my staff so I haven’t watched a ton of film yet,” he said. “As far as schematically, and what people are doing, I’m not ready to answer that.”
It’s not for lack of preparation, mind you.
The miles – or would it be back to kilometres now? – Milanovich has racked up since entering the pros as a quarterback with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996 have taken him to five leagues and three continents as a player, before transitioning to a coaching career with the Rhein Fire in 2003.
“I have and I’ve had some unique experiences. I started in NFL Europe and I was there as a player and then I coached there for four or five years before coming to the CFL and doing a little college football,” he said. “I’ve been around a little bit.”
And now, it’s back to the CFL where he’s been on the coaching staff of three Grey Cup champions, including his first year as a head coach in Toronto, on the way to being named head coach of the year.
Eskimos GM Brock Sunderland approached him in December with an offer that couldn’t be refused.
“Just a good opportunity. It’s one of the flagship organizations in the league and it was an opportunity to work with a general manager I’ve known for over a decade,” Milanovich said. “I think that’s tremendously important and the chance to be a head coach again.
“All those things felt right to me.”
As does the offensive-focused format of the CFL, itself.
“The game’s unique. For a coach with an offensive background, the creativity is enjoyable. Any sort of football, at this point — NFL included — has become a game where you have to get your playmakers the ball in space. That’s what the CFL has always been about and just the creativity,” said Milanovich, who also has personal ties to the country. “My kids grew up, for the most part, in Canada, in Montreal and Toronto. We enjoy it. It’s a good fit for us. My girls, I have one in college now and one who’s a junior in high school, so from a family standpoint it’s a little easier to be away than it was.
“We’re not going to relocate until she’s through high school.”
If he had his way, of course, Milanovich would be in Edmonton for the long haul.
“I’d like to be. It’s coaching in football so you never know,” he said. “The shelf life of head coaches generally isn’t that long. But I have no designs to leave.
“If Brock was to offer me a 20-year contract I’d take it and that would be it. We know that’s not real though. I’m excited to be a part of the community.”
As for which Eskimos players will continue to be a part of it with him, Milanovich and Sunderland have some decisions to make over the next month leading up to free agency.
“I’m going to reserve judgment on the roster until I can delve into it,” said Milanovich, who previously coached Trevor Harris in the quarterback’s rookie CFL season in 2012. “I think the world of him and I think he’s a great quarterback. I know what kind of person he is and when you’re starting with that guy, that’s a good place to start.
“We’ve got some talent, facility-wise it’s top notch, the people love football up there and being in the West (Division) are all things I’m looking forward to.”
On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020
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