Here are some notes from Monday's Roughriders news conference in which Chris Jones (pictured) was named Saskatchewan's Head Coach/General Manager/V.P. of Football Operations. The official news release is at the bottom of this post, followed by the Canadian Press story:
PRESIDENT CRAIG REYNOLDS
- Says Jones has "an outstanding track record" as defensive coordinator, head coach and in personnel. Has never missed the playoffs and has won everywhere he goes. Calls Jones "a winner".
- Says Jones is "a great leader".
- Said the Riders had a target list of candidates and through research, Chris Jones was on that list. When the season was over, permission was granted by Eskimos President Len Rhodes and the Esks were "excellent" with providing it.
- Reynolds said Jeremy O'Day was "disappointed" with the decision, but understands and supports it.
- Isn't concerned that Jones being HC and DC is too much. He'll surround himself with good people and they've been through all of those discussions.
- Hopes Chris Jones is here for a long, long time. They've discussed it and Chris wants to be a place where football matters. That's the case in Saskatchewan.
- Says being successful at every level has to do with being around good people and good staffs. Says the staff in Edmonton was very good and he's been very fortunate. As far as personnel, he figured out a long time ago it takes good players to win games. Good players make good coaches.
- He'll speak with O'Day and then they'll "move forward". Being around each other will "be a good thing".
- You never know till you get here but football means a lot in Saskatchewan. Was raised around the Alabama/Tennessee State line and when people wake up every day there they think about football and the game defines them. Saskatchewan reminds him of that.
- Won't predict how the 2016 Riders will be but he'll put together a high-calibre coaching staff and the players will be good people first, and hopefully good players too. Credits Ed Hervey and Paul Jones with giving him good players in Edmonton and hopes to do the same thing in Saskatchewan.
- He'll have to learn as he goes but says he learned a lot from Jim Barker, Paul Jones and John Hufnagel and is well-prepared for this opportunity.
- Jones will be Defensive Coordinator of the Riders until he's comfortable with turning it over to someone else.
- He left Edmonton because this is "an opportunity to do my own thing" and "do this in conjunction with Craig and build it from the ground up".
- The last few days have been "a blur with the Grey Cup and stuff". He said after that was cleared up, he realized there was an opportunity with Saskatchewan.
- Confirms this is a three-year deal.
- Being nomadic is a reality of pro football and it's not a negative. You get to see a different part of the country and he joked that he couldn't see a tree anywhere on the way to Saskatchewan.
- There are so many things to do now that's there's not enough time to detail it in this news conference. There are tons of calls to be made regarding personnel and where minicamp will be held, and how personnel will be structured.
- We'll talk about coaches at a later time. This isn't the appropriate time to discuss staff things. That'll be between he and the coaches he plans on bringing in.
- "I'm not here to say we'll change this or change that. There are good players here and this is about adding to that, and the salary cap will dictate who will stay and who has to go".
- Had to look at what's best for the individual and there were great connections with Edmonton and the locker room was "as good I've ever seen it". It was hard to move on, but you have to jump at an opportunity like this.
- Didn't talk with Corey Chamblin about the Saskatchewan environment. He's known Chamblin a long time but he can figure this out for himself.
- Will start looking for a place to live today. His wife and kids stay in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Has been married since 1997.
- Doesn't know if this position would've been available if he hadn't won the Grey Cup. "You'd have to ask Craig. I didn't hire myself." "I've lost a few Grey Cups myself but I don't look into the past too much".
- Gets asked all the time about returning to the U.S. to coach. Thinking about that takes away from winning so just enjoy where you're at, win as much as you can, and all the other stuff will take care of itself.
- He's okay with the fishbowl. He's used to it. 200,000 in Regina and 2,000 where he's from. NBD.
- Worried only about what the Riders have going on right here, right now. He's moved up every place he's gone. He's been lucky to have success and when that happens you get opportunities. "I'm not looking to pack up and move every other year."
The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today they have named Chris Jones vice-president of football operations, general manager, and head coach. Jones becomes the 16th general manager and 46th head coach in the club’s history.
Jones spent the previous two years as the head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos. Last season, Jones guided the Eskimos to a league leading 14-4 record before going on to capture the Grey Cup with a 26-20 win over Ottawa.
In his first season at the helm in Edmonton, the Eskimos finished second in the West Division with a 12-6 record, before losing the 2014 West Final to Calgary. It was a remarkable, and club record, eight win improvement from the previous season.
Jones was selected a finalist for CFL Coach of the Year following both his seasons with Edmonton.
Jones joined the CFL coaching ranks in 2002. After one season as Montreal’s defensive line coach he was named the Alouettes defensive coordinator where he spent the next five seasons. He then joined the Calgary Stampeders in 2008 where he spent four seasons as defensive coordinator as well as two of those as assistant director of player personnel. He later joined the Toronto Argonauts for the 2012 and 2013 seasons as defensive coordinator and assistant general manager.
Through his 14 CFL seasons Jones has never missed the playoffs, reaching 12 division finals with seven Grey Cup appearances between Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and Edmonton – winning in 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2015.
He began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee Tech University in 1995 and spent seven years in the NCAA before entering the CFL.
REGINA - Chris Jones comes from the southern United States, where football is akin to religion. He sees the same dedication to the sport in his new CFL home.
Jones was introduced Monday as the new head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, ending weeks of speculation about the Grey Cup-winning coach's future.
Jones, who led the Edmonton Eskimos to a CFL championship this season, says he's looking forward to working in Saskatchewan, which boasts a fervent fan base.
"I'm from a little, small place down in Tennessee, town called South Pittsburg ... and to have this opportunity, I woke up this morning with a smile on my face,'' Jones said at a news conference at Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
"Football matters a whole lot down south, and it matters a whole lot here, and that hinged a lot on my decision.''
Jones will have his work cut out for him, inheriting a Roughriders team that struggled mightily last season en route to a league-worst 3-15 record.
Saskatchewan spent half of last season with interim tags on both its head coach and GM after the organization fired coach Corey Chamblin and GM Brendan Taman in September.
Jones wouldn't speculate on his vision for the Riders' future.
"I'm not going to sit here and make any bold predictions or anything like that,'' he said. "I can you that we're going to put a really high quality, high character staff together that enjoys being around each other. We're going to bring in good people first, that happen to be good football players and we're just going to go to work.''
He says there are good players on the roster and it's a matter of adding to an already good product. However, he adds the salary cap "will dictate who can stay and who has to go.''
Riders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said Jones is a winner.
"He's a great leader and he's had a track record of success wherever he's been,'' said Reynolds.
Jones has had success at each of his CFL stops since entering the league in 2002 as a defensive line coach with the Montreal Alouettes. After the Alouettes won the Grey Cup in 2002, he was defensive co-ordinator Calgary's championship-winning team in 2008, and defensive co-ordinator, assistant head coach and assistant GM of Toronto's Grey Cup team in 2012.
He has already demonstrated his ability to turn around a troubled team. The Eskimos had just posted a 4-14 record when Jones took over after the 2013 season. Two years later, they defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 to win their first Grey Cup title in a decade.
"I thank Chris Jones for his work over the last two seasons. This is an opportunity for him to grow professionally and I wish him well in his future endeavours,'' Eskimos GM and vice-president of football operations Ed Hervey said in a statement.
"The search for our new head coach begins immediately. Over the next few weeks, I will interview several qualified candidates and select the right head coach for our team and community.''
Jones says he debated staying in Edmonton, but the decision ultimately came down to the chance to do his own thing in Saskatchewan.
"When an opportunity like this presents itself, you have to jump at it,'' he said.