Saskatchewan

'Football means something out here': Craig Dickenson announced as Riders head coach

Jeremy O'Day didn't have to look far to find a new head coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Dickenson will also remain special-teams co-ordinator

Craig Dickenson, seen here working as special teams co-ordinator in 2017, will be the Saskatchewan Roughriders' new head coach, according to a league source. (Mark Taylor/Canadian Press)

Jeremy O'Day didn't have to look far to find a new head coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The CFL team's general manager confirmed Friday special teams co-ordinator Craig Dickenson will step up to take on the role vacated by Chris Jones. 

"Craig is extremely respected by our players and staff," O'Day said in a press release. "His dedication, intelligence and leadership will be an integral part of our future success."

The Riders held a formal announcement of Dickenson's new role on Friday afternoon, confirming Dickenson will be the coach, in addition to continuing on as the special teams co-ordinator — a role he's held for the past three seasons. ​

"I'm just thrilled to be able to come back and work with Jeremy, and really build something great here," Dickenson said, describing the Riders as a "special organization" with strong fan support.

​"Football means something out here — it means something more here than it does in other places."

Craig Dickenson speaks at a Roughriders press conference about his new role as head coach. (CBC News)

Dickenson also spoke about his past experience, explaining special team coaches and head coaches work closely together and both make calls about game management. 

"I think it's an easy transition, and I'd love to see other special teams coaches down the road get opportunities as well."

Long-time coach, first-time head coach

Dickenson, 47, is a veteran CFL coach, having spent 17 years in the league working with Calgary (twice), Montreal, Saskatchewan (twice), Winnipeg and Edmonton. He's also won two CFL titles, with the Eskimos in 2015 and the Stampeders in 2008.  

This will be Dickenson's first CFL head-coaching opportunity. It follows the departure of Jones, who resigned as Saskatchewan's head coach/GM to join the NFL's Cleveland Browns earlier this month.

The new Riders' head coach said he's looking forward to the next match-up with the Grey Cup-champion Calgary Stampeders, with that team headed up by his brother David.  

"We've competed our whole lives," Dickenson said, explaining the circumstances aren't unusual. "David's very happy that I get this opportunity. And I'm thrilled to be able to coach in the same league as my brother."

With files from CBC News

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