Stampeders part ways with coach Higgins
The Calgary Stampeders will have a new head coach next season. Tom Higgins was let go Thursday after losing his third straight Western Semifinal game with Calgary
Higgins was offered a post of executive vice-president within the organization, but turned it down.
Higgins says that he turned down the offer because he could not see himself working at a desk.
"I'm a football person," Higgins told THE CANADIAN PRESS Thursday. "I've been a football person all my life. I don't think I'm ready now to start dealing with public relations, the media and special projects.
"When I turned down the job that was presented to me, I knew there was still a mindshift that was going to occur that I was no longer going to be the coach of Calgary Stampeders. That doesn't fit my personality, lifestyle choice as of right now. I like to be involved in football operations."
No replacement was named, but the Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald have both reported that former Stampeders offensive co-ordinator John Hufnagel was expected to be named coach and general manager. An official announcement could come after the Grey Cup.
"On behalf of the Calgary Stampeder Football Club's Ownership Group; management; coaches; players and the entire Calgary Stampeder family, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tom Higgins for his commitment to the Club and the Canadian Football League over the past three years," said Managing Partner and President Ted Hellard in a statement.
"Our hope was that Tom would accept an Executive Vice-President position within the organization. However, we respect and appreciate Tom's passion to remain on the football field. We wish Tom success and good luck in his future endeavors."
Higgins led the Stampeders to an 11-7 mark in 2005, as the team won seven of its final eight games before falling to Edmonton in the Western Semifinal. Higgins earned his second CFL Coach of the Year award for that effort.
Hopes were high for the future, but in 2006, the Stampeders were 10-8 and fell to Saskatchewan in the Western Semifinals.
This season, Calgary was 7-10-1 and once again lost the Western Semifinal to Saskatchewan. There was some dissention on the team, with many veterans not appreciating Higgins' plan to constantly rotate players at various position on a game-by-game basis. And defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan was fired during the season.
Higgins has 25 years of experience in the CFL, including 13 with the Stampeders organization.
Before re-joining the Stampeders organization in 2005, he coached the Edmonton Eskimos for four seasons, winning the Grey Cup and Coach of the Year honours in 2003. In total, Higgins won three division crowns with Edmonton and made two Grey Cup appearances.
Higgins had been with the Eskimos since 1993, when he was named assistant general manager. He took over as Edmonton's GM in 1997 before assuming the head coaching job in 2001.
Prior to that, Higgins had been with the Stampeders in various capacities.
After his playing career, which included stints in the CFL and the NFL, ended in 1981, Higgins coached the University of Calgary for three season, winning a national title in 1983.
Hmmmm... I think *I* know a City/Team that could use a EXPERIENCED cfl coach