HER­VEY WANTS NEW LIONS COACH TO BE PART OF A DY­NASTY EF­FORT

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - ED WILLES ewil­[email protected]­media.com

It might not be ev­ery­one’s idea of a good time, but as he en­ter­tains the ap­pli­cants for the B.C. Lions’ head-coach­ing job in his off-site lair, Ed Her­vey is clearly en­gaged in the process.

“I’m fired up,” he says in the lobby of the new Civic Ho­tel in Sur­rey. “The can­di­dates have all been fan­tas­tic. This has been ex­cit­ing.”

Ex­cit­ing he says. Maybe the man needs to get out more. Since the Lions were elim­i­nated a month ago on a cold, un­for­giv­ing day in Hamilton, Her­vey has been con­sumed with the search for the next man. He’s con­ducted more in­ter­views than Bar­bara Wal­ters. He’s run back­ground checks on each can­di­date with coaches and for­mer play­ers, some who had been cut by the can­di­date in ques­tion.

“You learn more from those guys,” said the Lions’ GM.

This week, he’s also been holed up in a suite at the Civic where the fi­nal in­ter­views have been held. Un­less some­thing goes off the rails, the an­nounce­ment will be made next week and the job will go to DeVone Clay­brooks, the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers’ de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor the last three years.

But, while that news reg­is­ters as a for­mal­ity, Her­vey will tell you the en­tire ex­er­cise has been in­valu­able to him and the or­ga­ni­za­tion. As for the fun part, well, as in all things, that’s a mat­ter of per­spec­tive.

“I don’t think there’s a poor choice,” he says. “This is more about fit and shar­ing the same phi­los­o­phy.

“That’s what ex­cites me about this process and this hire. Re­gard­less of who we choose, I feel very con­fi­dent we’re go­ing to get a very good head coach and the fu­ture of the team is in good hands. There are guys we’ve talked to who are go­ing to be good head coaches in the fu­ture.”

But, for the Lions, the fu­ture is now.

Dur­ing the course of a long, wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Her­vey would nei­ther con­firm nor deny that Clay­brooks was his man, but the for­mer NFLer who’s been on the Stamps’ staff since 2012 is the clear front-run­ner.

Af­ter the Lions’ loss in Hamilton, Her­vey flew to Cal­gary for the West­ern fi­nal and he didn’t make the trip for the points. He’s in­ter­viewed Clay­brooks, along with Ot­tawa of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Jaime El­i­zondo, Ot­tawa de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor and long­time CFL as­sis­tant Noah Thorpe and Lions de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Mark Wash­ing­ton.

The an­nounce­ment, he said, will likely come within six to 10 days. Her­vey added he’ll be hir­ing a first-time head coach.

“DeVone is a def­i­nite can­di­date,” Her­vey said. “Any team that gets him is go­ing to get a good head coach. He’s prob­a­bly the front-run­ner on a lot of teams’ list. I can’t speak for Toronto, but I imag­ine that’s the way they see him.

“Who­ever we chose is go­ing to be the best fit for the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Her­vey added the new man will pick his own staff. Lions of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Jar­i­ous Jack­son is un­der con­tract for an­other year and with the new cap for foot­ball op­er­a­tions in place, he’ll likely be re­tained. The same can’t be said for the Lions’ other po­si­tion coaches.

“I will have a say,” Her­vey said of the new coach­ing staff. “The new coaches will have to be ex­plained if I don’t know them, but there haven’t been too many names I don’t know.

“The coach­ing staff will im­pact the de­ci­sion on who we choose.”

While he wasn’t long on de­tails, Her­vey was only too happy to dis­cuss what this hire means to his vi­sion for the Lions. He wants a leader who can com­mu­ni­cate with the play­ers, “whether they’re from South Florida or north­ern Saskatchewan.”

Again, that sounds like Clay­brooks, who built a rep­u­ta­tion as a play­ers’ coach in Cal­gary.

But Her­vey also talked about the align­ment that has to take place be­tween his phi­los­o­phy and the phi­los­o­phy of the new coach. The for­mer re­ceiver has am­bi­tious de­signs for the Lions and wants to build them into the CFL’s des­ti­na­tion fran­chise. He also talked about the need to get big­ger, faster and more ath­letic, both next year and into the fu­ture.

“When we talk about win­ning games and win­ning cham­pi­onships, we envision build­ing a dy­nasty,” he said. "It’s not about hop­ing we’re go­ing to get it done. I don’t like to live in hope. I like to live in get­ting it done.

Well, no one can ac­cuse him of think­ing small. The Lions are com­ing off a 9-9 sea­son and it’s still un­clear who they’ll have at quar­ter­back next sea­son, but when you’re think­ing along dy­nas­tic lines, Her­vey knows it starts with the new head coach.

He also knows if he doesn’t get this one right, it doesn’t mat­ter what he does else­where with the team.

“Once I’m done (in­ter­view­ing) I’m go­ing to take a cou­ple of days and just ab­sorb ev­ery­thing,” he said. “I have to hire some­one I can work with who gives us the best chance of build­ing a win­ning or­ga­ni­za­tion. It’s a very in­tense process.

“But it all starts with the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the head coach and gen­eral man­ager. That im­pacts the whole or­ga­ni­za­tion. If those peo­ple are on the same page, it’s re­flected on the field.”

JA­SON PAYNE/FILES

Lions GM Ed Her­vey will nei­ther con­firm nor deny that Stam­ped­ers de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor DeVone Clay­brooks is his top choice.

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