The University of Regina Rams football program is looking for a new head coach, again.
The Rams announced on Sunday that head coach Mike Gibson would be stepping down at the end of January to join the Edmonton Eskimos as their offensive line coach and run game coordinator, after just one season with the team.
“I was pretty shocked, I didn’t see it happening. I didn’t expect that would be the news at all when he came into the office and asked if I had a few minutes,” said acting athletic director Curtis Atkinson.
“I think we were all quite surprised. But, I’m learning that anything can happen and it was a good opportunity for him. I would never be critical of that.”
Atkinson admits as a university program, they are somewhat limited in terms of different things they can do to entice Gibson to stay with the program. Therefore, they couldn’t have made much of an attempt.
For his part, Gibson told reporters several times on Monday that he would have been happy to stay with the Rams going forward.
It was just a year ago that Gibson said at his introductory news conference that this was the last move he ever wanted to make. Gibson claims he firmly meant that at the time, but a lot can change in a year.
Ultimately, Gibson felt the move was the right one for himself and his family.
“If you don’t really consider (new opportunities), you might say no, but if you don’t consider it, you’re not really being fair,” he said.
According to Gibson, it was Eskimos head coach Jason Maas that came to him with the offer. He wasn’t actively seeking another job in the CFL.
Now, it’s the Rams who will be actively looking for a new head coach.
The board of directors will meet on Monday night and discuss their plan going forward. Atkinson did expect that they would name an interim head coach.
Atkinson couldn’t say if the person hired for that role would remain through the 2016 season, allowing them to hire a new permanent head coach for the 2017 season from what would presumably be a larger pool of potential candidates.
“We’re going to meet with the board and make the best decision that we think will support the 80-plus guys in that locker room,” he said.
The university does expect most, if not all of the new recruits signed by Gibson to still join the team this season.