The biggest task in Craig Reynolds’ young career as the Roughriders president and CEO will soon reach another stage.
Reynolds is currently in the middle of finding the team a new vice-president of football operations and general manager after the man who previously held that job, Brendan Taman, was fired the first week of September.
“It’s a critical hire. This is the leader of your football team. This is the person set the vision for your football team, who drives the culture of your football team and ultimately builds your football team,” said Reynolds.
Right now, the process of finding the man to set that vision is still in its early stages.
Reynolds hopes to eventually have a short list of three or four candidates. Right now, the team’s current interim general manager, Jeremy O’Day, is the only name on that list.
Whoever Reynolds hires will have to have CFL experience, though they don’t necessarily need to currently be a general manager in the league.
“Established general managers are generally working in the league. You need to be able to project that this person has the capabilities to be one of the best general managers in the league. That’s ultimately what we’re after here,” noted Reynolds.
The team is open to having that person be the general manager and the head coach. Though, Reynolds admits it would take a special person to do that.
Over the last few weeks, Reynolds has received permission to talk to some potential candidates across the league. He’s also been denied permission to talk to some others.
His conversations will continue on a more informal basis in a couple of weeks at the Grey Cup in Winnipeg.
If all goes according to plan, Reynolds hopes to have the new general manager in place by the middle of December. However, he admits that deadline isn’t a firm one as they will wait a little longer if needed to make sure the right decision is made.
“I’ve got to live with this decision. I need to be comfortable with this decision. I’ll walk our board through it, to make sure they’re comfortable with the decision I’ve made. At the end of the day, I own this decision,” he said.
“There will be criticism regardless of which direction you go. I know that, that’s just part of the role.”
Considering Reynolds’ background as the team’s chief financial officer, this comes with plenty of business experience rather than football experience.
Since Taman and then-head coach Corey Chamblin were fired, some have wondered whether Reynolds has the football acumen to get this hire right.
“I’ve worked for the club for six years and in that time I’ve worked with three different general managers very, very closely. In the role I had previously and obviously this role, you work with the general manager very very closely. You’re very in tuned with what it takes to be successful in that role,” he said.
“I’ve seen general managers operate. I’ve seen some of the things they’ve done that are very successful and some of the things that have been less successful. So, I think I have a really good understanding of the role. If I was tasked with hiring the (offensive coordinator) or the (defensive coordinator), I think I’d be less comfortable. We’re not talking x’s and o’s. We’re talking about the senior leader of our football team”
Reynolds won’t be making this decision alone. He’s already had a few conversations with some people in the game that he trusts. The team has also hired an outside firm to help with some of the administrative details of the search.
It’s not a given that O’Day will eventually get the full-time job. If he doesn’t, Reynolds hopes that O’Day will remain in the organization. Ultimately though, that decision will be up to the new general manager and O’Day himself.