EDMONTON - Saying the Edmonton Eskimos are at a critical stage for their future, general manager Ed Hervey fired head coach Kavis Reed on Monday and said he will bring in a new man who is more like himself.
"It is my feeling the club is at a stage that is critical to our on-field expectations and this move was necessary," Hervey told a news gathering hours after he informed Reed he was gone after three years as head coach. "I have confidence this decision will give our club its best opportunity to compete at a high level heading into the 2014 season."
Hervey said his plan is to appoint a head coach who will bring a structured environment, a unified coaching staff and have the ability to develop players. The first-year GM said he's looking for a coach who could bring the best staff with him, but added he has not spoken to the current Eskimo assistants about their future.
"It's going to be a very thorough and methodical process and I'm going to choose the right coach," he said of the search. "Not the right fit, but the right coach. I'm going to get someone who is a little bit more like myself, a little more detailed and structured and not really looking to spend a lot of time with you guys, more time developing the football team."
Reed took over the Eskimo coaching job in 2011, leading them to an 11-7 record, second in the CFL West and was a finalist for coach of the year. In 2012 their record fell to 7-11 and this year they were 4-14, one of the worst records in franchise history.
Hervey, who didn't speak to the media for much of the season, said he's "not certain" there was much Reed could have done this year to save his job.
"The record aside, there were other factors in my decision and moving forward I believe when I appoint the next head coach he will have all the qualifications that I want for this team. I believe that this team in some ways unachieved at times. The record did not reflect the changes we made in the off-season."
He was especially critical of the team's season-long rash of penalties that cost them valuable yards, first downs and points. He said Reed, his staff and the players never resolved that issue "and that was a concern of mine."
He did, say, however that he was impressed with Reed's ability to motivate the players, especially in the latter stages of the season when their playoff hopes were gone and they were unable to halt losing streaks.
"Even when we were eliminated from the playoffs and many suggested there was nothing to play for, he was the only man downstairs who was capable of keeping those men together and playing as hard as they did. Even in the games they lost you could see the efforts they played with … I marvel at his ability to motive those men not only all season but during those times."
Hervey said Reed did a good job of holding players accountable and that despite the dismal record he "saw growth to this roster and I'm excited about 2014 and what it brings."
A day earlier, in his post-season talk with the media, Reed said he gave the Eskimos everything he could and the won-loss record "doesn't reflect the character in the locker-room and the growth in that room moving forward.
"This is a microwave society," he added. "People feel the more changes you make the closer you get to something. Actually, the more changes you make the farther away you get."
Reed came to Edmonton as a defensive back in 1995 and played five seasons with the Eskimos. He spent 10 years as an assistant coach with five different CFL teams before being named Edmonton's head coach in 2011.
"This community has been tremendous to me for 20 years and I've enjoyed every waking moment I've spent in this community," he said.
Several players who attended Hervey's news conference said the team feels bad for Reed's firing, something they as players contributed to. But, said quarterback Mike Reilly, a 4-14 record will result in changes.
"It's a tough part of the business. Kavis is a good coach, a great man and I really enjoyed playing for him . . . he helped me a lot. His desire and his abilities will land him somewhere and he will get another opportunity."
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