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

CFL

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

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Feds spending plan heads to confidence vote as provinces seek more health-care cash

OTTAWA — Provinces are criticizing the federal Liberals for failing to signal… Continue reading

In this Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 file photo, Herman Termeer, 54, stands on the roof of his home as the Blue Ridge Fire burns along the hillside in Chino Hills, Calif. An overheating world obliterated weather records in 2020 — an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, floods, droughts and ice melt — the United Nations’ weather agency reported Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
UN calls on humanity to end ‘war on nature,’ go carbon-free

As an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires and heat waves comes to… Continue reading

John Lambert
Military identifies remains of Newfoundland soldier killed in Belgium in 1917

OTTAWA — More than 100 years after a young soldier from Newfoundland… Continue reading

Military police officers carry a bag filled with money left behind by armed bank robbers, in Criciuma, Santa Catarina state, Brazil, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Dozens of criminals armed with assault rifles invaded the city in southern Brazil overnight and took control of the streets as they assaulted a local bank. (Guilherme Hahn/Futura Press via AP)
Massed Brazilian bank robbers attack another city, kill 1

RIO DE JANEIRO — A large gang of heavily armed bank robbers… Continue reading

(Black Press file photo.)
Red Deer city council holds closed-door discussion about proposed aquatics centre

Recommended design, cost and location won’t be made public until next spring

In this May 16, 2019, file photo, Salesforce chairman Marc Benioff speaks during a news conference, in Indianapolis. In a deal announced Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service Slack for $27.7 billion in a deal aimed at giving the two companies a better shot at competing against longtime industry powerhouse Microsoft. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Salesforce buying work-chat service Slack for $27.7 billion

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Business software pioneer Salesforce.com is buying work-chatting service… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks remotely during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on May 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on how to safely open the country and get America back to work and school. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)
People magazine reveals its ‘2020 People of the Year’

LOS ANGELES — People magazine has named George Clooney, Dr. Anthony Fauci,… Continue reading

Zeke Thurston, of Big Valley, Alta., rides Lunatic Party during saddle bronc rodeo semi-final action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Sunday, July 14, 2019. Thurston is among five Canadians competing in the 2020 world championship of rodeo Dec. 3-12 in Arlington, Texas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Rough ride to National Finals Rodeo for Canadians in pandemic season

Levi Simpson and his horse Stetson are about to trample the turf… Continue reading

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney watches late in the second half of the team's MLS Cup soccer match against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Seattle. Vanney has stepped down as coach of Toronto FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo-Elaine Thompson
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Hamilton Forge FC's Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia's Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Forge FC looks to win its way into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday when it takes on Haiti's Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder competition that sends six clubs to CONCACAF's elite club tournament. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

Most Read