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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 7, 2020
It may appear that Brock Sunderland pulled off a complicated, magicians move of sorts to hire Scott Milanovich to a four-year deal as the next head coach of the Edmonton Eskimos while he was still working as an under contract coach in the NFL.
But you’d be wrong.
“It was pretty simple, actually,” said the Edmonton Eskimos general manager.
“I reached out to the Jacksonville Jaguars a couple of days ago and got permission. The Jaguars were phenomenal. They were extremely classy, handled everything extremely well.
“I have a lot of respect for that organization and in particular their general manager David Caldwell. He’s a very classy individual.
“Not every team would give you permission but I think what they saw someone with an opportunity to be a head coach and they didn’t want to stand in his way.”
There was also a history there with Sunderland and Milanovich.
“Scott and I go way back. We worked together in Montreal in 2007. We kept in touch through the years. Even when I was in Ottawa and he was in Toronto and were division rivals we’d make sure to catch up before and after games,” he said.
“It was a little seamless because of that. We have a lot of history and a lot of mutual respect for each other.
“As soon as I got permission, I got on the horn and the further we talked and the more serious I could tell he was, I got on a plane and headed down here to Jacksonville,” Sunderland said in a telephone interview with your correspondent shortly after the Eskimos made the announcement Thursday afternoon.
“When I got down here to Jacksonville to meet with him in person that was the only real challenging part. He’s working right now. He’s all dialed in to the Jaguars, so he has early mornings and late nights. So we would meet early, early in the mornings and then again late at night,” said the GM who will remain in Florida for a media conference call Saturday with his new head coach and for a Monday video session planned as well.
“The biggest thing with Scott is that he’s a winner. He’s a leader. He’s done a great job with quarterbacks. Look at all the ones he’s developed. He’s played the position in multiple leagues.
“Those are the biggest things. The leadership. The presence. The command. The proven success. He’s won three Grey Cups, two as an offensive co-ordinator and one as a head coach. And I think he’s only managed to get better by being in the NFL these last few years.”
If Trevor Harris was lamenting the loss of Maas, this should cure that condition.
“It’s going to be seamless for Trevor. They worked together.”
Sunderland said no decision has been made about any assistants including defensive co-ordinator Phillip Lolley, who has a year remaining on his contract.
But one thing for sure, Milanovich will be his own offensive co-ordinator.
“He’ll be doing the play calling as well. The production he’s had as a play-caller speaks for itself.”
Sunderland said he’s leaving the selection of the entire staff to his new head coach.
“He gets really good assistant coaches. I think another thing involved there is that he not only develops players, he develops coaches.”
As for the idea of keeping free agents and attracting free agents, Sunderland said that should be bonus as well.
“You have a proven winner that the players like. I know a lot of players speak really highly of him. You talk to players and they’ll tell you how much they loved playing for him and how prepared they were and how detailed he was.
“The reality is that free agency in this era is going to result in getting a lot of guys and lose other guys. But do I think it will help our cause because of who he is and what his reputation is? Certainly.”
Milanovich will speak to the kind of team he intends to coach Saturday.
“I know he wants to be aggressive. He wants to be a smart football team that’s aggressive,” said Sunderland.
“I couldn’t be more excited or more thrilled to have him as a head coach.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019