Johnson: Dickenson would only move if situation was perfect
CFL head coaching candidate happy to stay as Stamps offensive co-ordinator
Choices. That’s always what sets Dave Dickenson apart. Making the right ones. The ability to find the right outlet receiver with a salivating Joe Montford taking dead aim or knowing whether or not to try to squeeze the ball in as Omarr Morgan closes on a receiving target.
When to throw it away and when not to.
Clear, thoughtful, informed decision-making. That was his hallmark. Leaving as little to chance as humanly possible.
He’s no different now.
“I did the interview process last year more to understand what I could and couldn’t do and what people wanted and didn’t want,” the Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator is saying on garbage-bag Tuesday down at McMahon Stadium. “I understood from those interviews that some people can get jobs because they’re salesmen; they just decide to maybe give the answer the other person wants to hear. I’m never gonna do that. For me, it’s what I want to have, need and require. Basically they need to sell me on the job, as well.
“It’s a two-way street.”
Every year at this time, with the parade over, the champagne supped, and the locker-rooms cleaned out for another winter, the topic inevitably arises:
Dave Dickenson’s candidacy for a head-coaching post.
He’s in no rush.
Thing is: Dickie’s picky.
“I’ve got a good life, I’m involved in good program. I like the city I live in. So I’m going to tell you what I need from my end and if that works for your team, great, and if not, well, you go to the next guy.”
At the moment, pickings for a top-dog job across the Canadian Football League seem even slimmer than usual. Maybe Kavis Reed steps upstairs, creating a head coaching vacancy, in Edmonton. Maybe he doesn’t.
No audible whispers of insurrection-plotting out of Hamilton where George Cortez’s Tabbies were a monumental disappointment. Tim Burke’s had the ‘interim’ tag smudged off his business cards despite the ongoing squalls in Winnipeg. Marc Trestman? Safe. Corey Chamblin? Safe. Mike Benevides? Safe. John Hufnagel? Safe. Scott Milanovich? The-toast-of-Toronto-town safe.
So, really, seven of eight spoken and accounted for. But things do change, with blinding quickness, in this CFL whirligig, head coaching being as precarious an occupation as media manipulator for Charlie Sheen. Then there’s always the expansion Ottawa Squabblin’ Bureaucrats, scheduled to come aboard in 2014, to consider.
And Dickenson, even though a little shine’s off his apple after being largely outfoxed by Chris Jones’ stifling defence at Rogers Centre on Grey Cup Sunday (he may not be as scorching hot as Gangnam Style right at the moment), nevertheless remains the next bright young thing poised to hop aboard the three-down head-coaching carousel.
“Listen, I know if I took a job and got the right staff . . . I feel confident in my abilities,” says Dickenson. “I just think I’ve got a lot to learn. And I like where I’m at. That’s the big thing for me.
“I like what I’m doing. I enjoy the people I’m working with. I feel very fortunate to have Huff as a head coach.
“Some people just jump at an opportunity that isn’t right for them. I don’t want to do it just to do it. I’d never jump into something without the right cast surrounding me.
“Not to say head coach is ‘overrated’ but ultimately any head coach needs a good, strong management team around him. That’s essential. Look at Ottawa (set to begin play in 2014). You’re going to need the right people in place, across the board, or your chance to succeed will be very low. You might get lucky one year but to have a nice, consistent, strong program you want to have a great foundation in place, and then you add.
“That’s why I’m picky.”
So many, of course, have leaped at the first opportunity that presents itself and in retrospect rued their haste. A first audition has all too often turned into a last audition.
“I think he’s comfortable in his position here and he wants to grow,” says Stamps’ boss John Hufnagel. “I’ve discussed it numerous times with Dave. He feels good and I’m sure when he thinks it’s right and there’s an opportunity, he’ll run with it.
“I had three opportunities before I went to the Arena league, (opportunities) to be a head coach in the Canadian Football League. A lot of it was loyalty. The time of the year they pursued me was after I’d signed a contract.
“But you always want to try to put yourself in a good situation.”
Don’t misconstrue Dickenson’s lack of urgency as a lack of ambition. Far from it. He’s going to be a head coach in this league. That’s inevitable. But the man’s shrewd enough to realize that in an age, in a town, where fast-tracking is the norm, making the right call, not the first one, is the key.
Choices. That’s always what set Dave Dickenson apart.
“I’m not at all worried,” he says casually. “My life will be very fulfilled whether I ever became a head coach or not. That has no bearing on any of my decisions.
“I told my brother, it’s not all about money and recognition. Basically, any job comes down to happiness and what you feel is a good situation. I think Craig (special teams coach in Saskatchewan) and I both agree the most important thing is being around people you really enjoy going to work with.
“Having the chance to succeed is what matters, more so than any money or recognition.
“No one can get rich in the CFL anyway.
“So basically, you want to be in a place, in a situation, where everbody’s in it for the right reasons.
“And I’ve already got that here.”
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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