Gibson’s latest stop is here at the U of R
Erica Focht – Contributor
The University of Regina Rams have recently welcomed a new coach to their team. Official as of Jan. 1, 2015, Mike Gibson was named new head coach. With his experience, the Rams football program is excited to see where he leads the team.
You might recognize his name from the various positions he had within the CFL. Gibson spent ten seasons in the league, his first position being with the Blue Bombers in 2001. Through 2002-2004 he coached at several different universities throughout the United States. He returned to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers once again in 2005-2006 as their offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. He then spent a Grey Cup winning season as the offensive line coach for the Roughriders in 2007 and an additional season with them in 2008. After that, he spent two seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as their offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. He then went to the Calgary Stampeders from 2011-2013 for three seasons. One season in the position of their running backs coach and the other two as their offensive line coach. His last year in the CFL, and probably his most memorable, was with the Ottawa RedBlacks, where he served as their offensive line coach as well as offensive coordinator.
Gibson has spent most of his coaching career as an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. With that kind of experience, it makes you wonder what went wrong with his season with the RedBlacks. During Gibson’s season with Ottawa, he was able to make RedBlacks history as the first coach to be fired in franchise history. To RedBlacks fans, this firing wasn’t out of context. Looking at the numbers it is evident why he was let go. With Gibson as their coach, the RedBlacks averaged just 14.1 points per game, 324 yards per game and were ranked eighth in the league. Over the year, they only managed to score 278 points and had seven embarrassing games without a single touchdown.
Knowing this, the Rams President Dean Picton told Canada West Universities Athletic Association: “Our entire club is extremely proud to have Mike Gibson as our head coach, Mike is an impressive and energetic person who is passionate about coaching football and has great coaching experiences both in the NCAA and the CFL. We all feel very fortunate that Mike has come to the University of Regina Rams to lead our young men. His hiring shows that our entire program is committed to excellence in the classroom, on the football field, and in our community.”
Gibson has made a positive impact on the players, coaches and athletic department already. His determination for a winning team has the players and staff striving for a better team. Everyone is looking for a positive winning season.
“I think it will be a big change,” says first year Rams player Korey Greene, “because we have a lot of different coaches coming in but I think it will be productive. It’s a new mind set, a new feel.”
Some people might have questioned the hiring of the new coach but the players are looking forward to a change. They are looking forward to a winning season.
“I think it was time for a change, or a face-lift for the Rams,” states second year Rams offensive lineman Matthew Degelman. “We just came off of what some people say a losing season, I don’t know what it was. I think it’s the experience; he has a lot of experience within the CFL and in the NCAA. He has a good track record and hopefully get some Ws.”
First-year running back Blake Anaka says they hired him because “His winning history, discipline, attention to detail and he likes to perfect a lot of the little things. Little things are going to help you win in the future and he is not just focused on athletics but our academics too.”
Gibson is making sure that the players are not only performing well on the field, but in the classroom, as well. He wants them understanding that although football is important, their university career is also about academics.
Greene says, “He wants us to sit at the front of our classes and he has a lot stricter times with our study hall and all that stuff.”
A transition, no matter how big or small, is never easy. It takes time to get used to new people, new systems, and new approaches. Going from Frank McCrystal to Mike Gibson is a big change for the Rams; they haven’t had a new head coach for a long time. 32 years, in fact.
Back in November, The Carillon caught up with former head coach Frank McCrystal before his sailed off into the sunset. Check that interview by current sports writer John Loeppky out here!
“Any time there is a change in leadership there will be an adjustment period.” Acting Director of Athletics Curtis Atkinson tells the Carillon, “Mike will implement new strategies – in-season and out-of-season – to get the most out of his student-athletes. He will place different expectations on the players and they will have to make adjustments to fit into his vision for the program.”
The players have a similar view, but are feeling the transition as well.
“It’s a different feel” states Degelman. “It’s tough to say right now. As he says we are kind of in our honey moon stage right now and every ones just trying to do our best to impress him. Frank was a real motivator and he just did his thing. Gibson hasn’t really coached me that much so I’m not to sure but I think he’s going to be really good and he seems like he knows what he’s doing and he wants everyone to be on the same path, and have one goal, and to win.”
Although they are looking at the transition in a positive way, the players know styles are different and things are going to change.
Degelman also states, “I think it’s going to be an easy transition for the guys who want to make a change and want to buy into what Gibson’s doing. For the other guys, they’re probably going to have to change or I don’t know what their futures hold for them, but they might not be around.”
Knowing his failures and accomplishments, is Mike Gibson really the right man to be the head coach of the Rams? Or will it lead to a rapid fall, as we saw with the RedBlacks? After talking to the players, his passion and determination has really showed during his short time here, so far. Greene, Anaka and Degeleman all agree that Gibson is definitely the right man for the job.
Gibson has made a good impression with the athletics department.
“I have been impressed with Mike and the way he has approached his job so far,” Atkinson states. “For anyone who has spent some time with him, you can feel his level of passion and enthusiasm for football. Prior to his CFL coaching experience, he had a long history of coaching at the collegiate level, and he appears to connect well with student-athletes. Under his leadership, I expect his team will be hard working, disciplined, and a team the University of Regina and the City of Regina will be proud of.”
Despite the mistakes he may have made in the past, the Rams are looking forward to his coaching this season. It seems clear to see that Mike Gibson is, indeed, the right man for the job. The Rams are ready for a great season under a great head coach.