B.C. Lions head coach Rick Campbell holds a team helmet after being introduced to the media during a news conference at the team training facility in Surrey, B.C., on December 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Head coach Campbell, B.C. Lions continuing along despite having to face adversity

Head coach Campbell, B.C. Lions continuing along despite having to face adversity

It’s been a challenging first year on the job for B.C. Lions head coach Rick Campbell.

Campbell became the Lions’ head coach in December following six seasons with Ottawa, where he was the first head coach in franchise history. Although Campbell posted a 44-62-2 regular-season record with the Redblacks, he led the team to three Grey Cup appearances over its first six CFL seasons, winning in 2016.

But not only has the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of Campbell’s coaching tenure with B.C., Campbell has had to assume some GM duties after the resignation Oct. 16 of Ed Hervey. Lions owner David Braley died just 10 days later at the age of 79, then word surfaced that veteran quarterback Mike Reilly had filed a grievance against the club reportedly for the non-payment of a guaranteed $250,000 stipend.

“Just in talking to Mike I know he wants to be a part of the Lions,” Campbell said Wednesday during a Grey Cup Unite coaches videoconference. “I know after sitting out a year, just like the rest of us that are football players and the coaches are going to be excited to get back on the field.

“That’s the mindset right now. There’s a business side to it and that’s on us to make sure that gets ironed out. I’m going to be very surprised if Mike Reilly isn’t playing for the Lions … we want him here so we’re going to be excited to have him.”

Reilly signed a four-year, $2.9-million deal as a free agent with B.C. in February 2019 after six seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos. It was a homecoming of sorts for Reilly, a native of Kennewick, Wash., who began his CFL career with the Lions (2010-12).

Reilly’s deal was significant as it made him the CFL’s highest-paid player. The 35-year-old was the CFL’s outstanding player in 2017 after passing for a career-high 5,830 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also guided Edmonton to a Grey Cup title in 2015, earning game MVP honours.

But Reilly’s return didn’t help B.C. make the CFL playoffs. He threw for 3,897 yards with 20 TDs and 15 interceptions in 16 regular-season as the Lions (5-13) finished last in the West Division.

Campbell, 48, a native of Spokane, Wash., has football in his blood. His father, Hugh Campbell, led Edmonton to a record five straight Grey Cups (1978-82) as head coach before a distinguished career as an executive with the franchise.

In 2015, Rick Campbell followed in his legendary father’s footsteps as the CFL’s coach of the year, an honour Hugh Campbell captured in ’79.

But Rick Campbell said the novel coronavirus has given the Lions the luxury of time.

“Obviously not playing a season has given us a chance to catch our breath and keep going,” he said. “It’s been a unique situation, to say the least.

“We’re not on pause, we’re in the process of solidifying our football ops, our coaching staff, which I think that will happen sooner than later. We definitely have a game plan and we’re going to work hard to execute it. We have eight other teams in this league who are working hard too so we’re going to make sure we’re not behind any of them.”

If the Lions were to approach Campbell about the GM’s job, he’d be willing to listen.

“I’m in on the Lions and want to do whatever I can to help this team,” Campbell said. “At the same time, I hope I’m smart enough and been around long enough that we have hands on deck to get everything done that we need to get done.

“I’m happy to take on any role I can do. As long as I can do it well then I’m in.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read