The B.C Lions have named Rick Campbell as their new head coach.
Campbell spent the previous six seasons as coach of the Ottawa Redblacks, overseeing the club’s transition from a 2-16 expansion team in 2014 to Grey Cup champion in 2016.
The Redblacks advanced to the Grey Cup final in three of Campbell’s seasons at the helm, finishing runner-up in 2015 and 2018.
“I am both grateful and elated to be coming to Vancouver for this incredible opportunity,” Campbell, the 2015 CFL coach of the year, said in a news release. “This is a roster brimming with talent and a ton of untapped potential, and I can’t wait to get started with Ed on building a champion for fans of the Lions.”
The 48-year-old Campbell, who replaces the fired DeVone Claybrooks, will also serve as the team’s defensive co-ordinator.
“When we examined all of the qualities we wanted in a coach to lead the BC Lions, there is no doubt that Rick checks off every box,” said Lions general manager Ed Hervey. “His extensive coaching experience and past success combined with the universal respect he has earned from players and coaches across our league make him the best candidate for this position by quite a wide margin.”
Deteriorating relationship with Redblacks GM?
Campbell’s relationship with Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins also appeared to be deteriorating after the team lost numerous players to free agency.
“My best way to phrase it is I didn’t think the status quo was best for the Redblacks going forward, and decisions were made from there,” Campbell said at the time of his departure.
“I really didn’t like it when people left here with a bad taste in their mouth,” he added. “The list was getting a little long and … I’ll leave it at that.”
He was hired last December to replace Wally Buono, who retired at the end of the 2018 season after 46 years in the CFL. Claybrooks joined the Lions after seven years with the Stampeders, including three as defensive co-ordinator, and went out on top as Calgary won the Grey Cup last fall.
Despite a long list of high-profile off-season signings that included quarterback Mike Reilly, wide receiver Duron Carter and offensive lineman Sukhn Chungh, the Lions stumbled out of the gate under Claybrooks’ leadership, winning just one of their first 11 games.
“We failed as a team,” Lions president Rick LeLacheur said in November. “We failed on the field, we failed off the field and it’s our job to make sure we fix it.”