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Greg Marshall is the new head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. ((CBC))

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have hired Greg Marshall as the Canadian Football League team's new head coach.

Although reports of Marshall being hired have been bandied about in the media in recent weeks, the Riders made it official Wednesday at a news conference at Mosaic Stadium.

"I'm just very excited to be here," the 54-year-old Marshall told reporters. "I look forward to working with a great group of people throughout the organization.  From the top all the way down."

Marshall, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' defensive co-ordinator for the past two seasons, is the Riders' 28th bench boss.

However, he's no stranger to Saskatchewan, having spent six seasons in Regina as a defensive coach from 1994-2000.

He also spent four seasons as the linebacker coach and defensive coordinator with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He said was looking forward to working with Roughrider quarterback Darian Durant.

"I'm excited not to worry about defending against him," Marshall said. "He can drive you nuts.  So it will be exciting to work with him and watch him continue to develop."

Assembling staff Job 1

Marshall said his first task will be assembling a group of assistant coaches.

The Riders began shopping for a new head coach on Dec. 2 when Ken Miller announced he would be stepping down.

Miller, 69, took his team to the Grey Cup two years in a row, but failed to win the championship.

The Montreal Alouettes won over the Riders 21-18 to take the 98th Grey Cup on Nov. 26. Saskatchewan had also lost to Montreal in the CFL final the year before.

Miller stays with the team as vice-president of football operations, a role that involves recruiting players and other personnel.

Miller helped hired Marshall.

"It was a thorough search, a comprehensive search and we looked for a lot of qualities in our football coach," said Miller.

"Primarily the things we were looking for is an excellent football coach, a coach of great character, a coach who wanted to and would fit into our culture of the Rider nation and then a coach who has the reputation of being a players coach, a coach who fit right into our locker room and be an excellent fit in that way."

Familiarity an asset

Miller said Marshall's familiarity with the team and the market will be an asset.

Marshall started coaching in the CFL in 1994 in Saskatchewan. He was team's defensive line coach for two seasons before adding the title of defensive co-ordinator. Marshall left the Riders in 1999 for other coaching positions and was most recently the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' defensive co-ordinator for the past two seasons.

"I have very good memories of my time in here in Regina," said Marshall.

"It's kind of ironic, I started my first CFL coaching career here and now I'm getting my first opportunity as a head coach here so it's kind of come full circle a little bit I guess. That kind of makes it special."

Marshall played nine seasons as a highly regarded defensive lineman with the former Ottawa Rough Riders.

He was named a four-time Eastern all-star, two-time CFL all-star and was the league's defensive player of the year in 1983.

Marshall also had a brief tenure with the NFL when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978.

With files from The Canadian Press