Bryce out in unclear circumstances
By Brian Palaschuk and John Loeppky, Sports Writer and Editor-in-Cheif
On Thursday, Feb. 6 the University of Regina announced Rams coach Steve Bryce’s resignation. Prior to the release by the University, renowned local sports journalist, Rod Pedersen reported that the Rams had, in fact, fired Bryce. Director of Sport, Community Engagement & Athlete Development Lisa Robertson.
“The release stands.”
The release in question provided very little clarity on the situation, with no mention of a reason for his resignation and no element of contradicting Pedersen’s tweet.
“The University of Regina has accepted the resignation of Steve Bryce, head coach of the University of Regina Rams football team. Bryce has indicated he is leaving his position for personal reasons. He had served as head coach since March, 2016, guiding the club to the playoffs in two of his four seasons. The University of Regina thanks Steve Bryce for his service and wishes him the best moving forward.”
“The University of Regina respects the privacy and confidentiality of all personnel matters and will not be providing any further details on Bryce’s departure.”
Former Ram Jens Johnson tweeted about the resignation and the impact it may have on the program.
“Steve is nothing short of an outstanding coach and human being. He exemplifies integrity, generosity, and what it means to create a ‘family.’ He would give the shirt off his back for any of his players or people involved with the Rams organization. Sad.”
When asked, Dr. Harold Reimer, Dean of Kinesiology and Health Studies – the department that oversees athletics – referred back to the statement and refused to be asked about his relationship with Bryce, an area of interest for some in the athletic department given the sudden nature of the resignation.
In fact, interim head coach and former offensive coordinator Mark McConkey was out of the country when Bryce’s departure was announced. He says that much of the workload, including the work he did up until a week or so ago, is “up in the air.”
“That’s all up in the air right now. Being the offensive co-ordinator is, I think, the best job there is. You get to call the plays and design the plays.”
“I’m not going to give up the full responsibility of that. What the plan is, is to maybe hire an offensive assistant to assist me, but I still want to be the lead on the offence because I think that’s the best part of my job.”
McConkey said that Bryce vacating the position for reasons unclear will have no impact on the incoming recruiting class.
“I’ve touched base with almost all of our confirmed recruits, there’s one who I haven’t been able to get in touch with. They are all still in and they all still want to be part of the Rams and yeah a few of them are obviously not happy that Steve’s not here but at the same time they understand we’ve got a great coaching staff and all of our volunteer coaches and a great locker room of guys, a good family feel and a lot of them want to come to school and get a degree go that route as well.“
McConkey echoed the positive review of his most recent predecessor.
“Steve and I had a great relationship. He was a mentor to me, and a good friend and I know lots of players loved playing for him and built great relationships with them in his four years here. Just overall great coach, great guy and was a good head coach for the program over the last four years.”
McConkey pointed out that the job is a tad bit overwhelming given that he just got the gig on Thursday.
“Right now it’s a little crazy, just trying to get my feet under me. My number one priority is the players right now. I just want to make sure they are doing the right things, still doing ok academically, still working out. I think once I get my feet under me a little bit and kind of figure out the responsibilities of the head coach then we can start looking towards 2020 and seeing how everything plays out form there.”
“Our guys are still going to continue to work hard. We’ve had a great off-season so far in the weight room and on the track. We’ve got a great young locker room, great young team and just because there’s a new guy manning the ship, I think we still have our high expectations for 2020 season so I’m really looking forward to that and want to get to August already and hit the field.”
The Rams have lost two straight head coaches after the long-term reign of Frank McCrystal. Mike Gibson left after a tumultuous thirteen months and Bryce managed a further four years.