Riders’ president says changes were needed for struggling team

Bob Dyce won’t have a grace period as the new head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Dyce was named the Riders’ interim head coach after Corey Chamblin was fired Monday night, along with general manager and vice-president of football operations Brendan Taman. The moves came a day after Saskatchewan lost a humiliating 35-13 road decision in Ottawa to drop to 0-9 on the season.

REGINA — Bob Dyce won’t have a grace period as the new head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dyce was named the Riders’ interim head coach after Corey Chamblin was fired Monday night, along with general manager and vice-president of football operations Brendan Taman.

The moves came a day after Saskatchewan lost a humiliating 35-13 road decision in Ottawa to drop to 0-9 on the season.

Dyce, 49, doesn’t have the luxury of time to get settled into his new gig as Saskatchewan hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday. And new Riders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said the organization has high expectations for this weekend’s contest.

“Certainly we expect a win Sunday and to get back into the (West Division playoff) race,” Reynolds told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. “This club should be competing for first and second year in and year out.

“We have the resources to do that, we have every opportunity to be successful here and that’s the goal. Obviously a win Sunday is the first and foremost goal, we need to build something towards the end of this year, get back into the mix of the playoffs and again build towards sustained success.”

Dyce immediately named Brett Smith his starting quarterback after the rookie was benched in the first half against Ottawa. Dyce added he’s not planning to make further changes to the Riders’ coaching staff.

“What I’m looking forward to is the opportunity ahead of me,” said Dyce, who has spent over a decade coaching in the CFL. “We have a great opportunity right now to change the fortunes of this season and that’s what I’m focused on.”

Dyce said Greg Quick will remain the defensive co-ordinator. Quick joined the Riders in that role this season but it was Chamblin who essentially ran the Riders’ defence.

Dyce, who began the season as Saskatchewan’s special-teams coach, is in his sixth year with the CFL club. He also spent seven campaigns as a coach and player-personnel director with Winnipeg.

“The last couple of years on special teams have really helped me prepare for this role,” he said. “The thing you do as a special-teams co-ordinator is address the whole team.

“I’ve been in Saskatchewan here for a while since 2010 so I know the veteran players and I know the new guys.”

Dyce, a Winnipeg native, becomes the CFL’s second active Canadian-born head coach. Winnipeg’s Mike O’Shea hails from North Bay, Ont.

Jeremy O’Day, a former Roughriders’ offensive lineman who had been the club’s assistant general manager, takes over for Taman on an interim basis.

“I hold responsibility in where we’re at right now . . . it’s never one guy,” O’Day said. “Every one of us who is here holds a responsibility in what’s happened on the field.

“I have a great opportunity in front of me to show I am ready. I hope my actions are going to speak louder than my words are and I think I’m prepared and ready to go.”

Taman and Chamblin brought a Grey Cup title to Saskatchewan in 2013 as the Riders beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 at Mosaic Stadium. And the squad looked poised to defend the crown, winning eight of its first 10 games in 2014.

But the Riders are 2-16 since. Six of their losses this year have been by four points or less, but Saskatchewan was outscored 21-3 in the second half Sunday against Ottawa.

Chamblin benched Smith after he was intercepted in the end zone and Tino Sunseri took the remainder of snaps. That drew the ire of many Roughriders fans, but Reynolds said it wasn’t the reason why the franchise made the changes it did.

On Tuesday, the Riders released Sunseri.

“We had belief that we were going to turn this around and we had belief in Corey and we wanted to give him the opportunity to turn it around,” Reynolds said. “But after Sunday’s game I would just suggest the belief wasn’t there anymore and we needed to move in a different direction for the future.”

Reynolds met with Taman on Monday and said the two agreed on the need to make a coaching change, but Reynolds felt the organization needed to go further.

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