Eskimos bring in Rich Stubler: could Marcus Crandell follow?

Andrew Bucholtz

The Edmonton Eskimos made a couple of announcements regarding assistant coaches for new head coach Kavis Reed today. They said they're retaining offensive line coach Tim Prinsen, getting rid of offensive coordinator Kevin Strasser, and bringing in former Argonauts' head coach and B.C. Lions defensive line coach Rich Stubler (pictured at right during his time with Toronto) as their defensive coordinator. All of those moves are noteworthy, but the most interesting announcement may be still be yet to come.

Hanging on to Prinsen seems like a pretty good move. He just completed his first season with the team, so he's clearly still growing as a coach at the CFL level, but he does have some other relevant experience. Before that, he spent four years as an offensive line coach at the University of Alberta, and before that, he was suiting up in the green and gold from 2000 to 2004 as the Eskimos' centre. He's demonstrated that he has coaching chops, and his ties to the franchise and the city help. Retaining him also provides some continuity on a unit where it might be the most important; the offensive line has to play and block as a unit, and making it so they don't have to learn a second scheme in two years should help.

Bringing in Stubler seems like a great decision. Stubler has tremendous chops as a defensive coordinator and did a great job at that level in Toronto. His head-coaching record is more mixed, but it's worth keeping in mind that the legendary Don Matthews went 0-8 after taking over Stubler's 4-6 Argos in 2008. You can only do so much with the personnel you have. Stubler's spent his time in the wilderness as the defensive line coach in B.C., a job he was considerably overqualified for, and he did a good job there. He fully deserves to be a CFL DC again, and his experience should help round out Edmonton's staff.

Firing Strasser is a bit more mixed. Yes, the Eskimos' offence struggled under him early last season, but they put up plenty of points down the stretch after general manager Eric Tillman brought in some more talent. Strasser took full advantage of the rushing talents of Daniel Porter and even notably utilized Ricky Ray as a dual-threat quarterback. Whether you like the decision to get rid of him or not probably depends on if you thought the Eskimos' awful start or strong finish was more indicative of their coaching staff, and it also probably depends on how you saw the Richie Hall firing.

The other part of the Strasser equation is the news that hasn't yet come out, though, and that's who's going to replace him as offensive coordinator. There's been plenty of speculation that it might be Saskatchewan quarterbacks coach (and former quarterback) Marcus Crandell, and that might make some sense. Crandell is very well-regarded for what he did in that role this year, and probably is going to get an offensive coordinator slot sooner rather than later. Tillman is familiar with him from his own time in Saskatchewan, as is Reed from his time on the Riders' staff. Nothing definitive on that front has come out yet, but there's a good chance Crandell might be the Esks' next offensive coordinator, and that could be one of the Eskimos' most significant off-season moves.