When Stuart Lang was introduced as the Guelph Gryphons new head football coach in March, the announcement was accompanied by a statement from the Department of Athletics that the team would also be hiring two full-time assistant coaches in the near future to aid Lang with coordinating the Gryphons offence and defence. The Gryphons would become one of the only a few teams to employ three full-time coaches, a shrewd move that will hopefully help accelerate the rebuilding process for a team that may be losing a number of key starters heading into the 2010 season.
Nearly two months later, those full-time assistants have still yet to be named.
Initially, it was expected that Lang’s assistants would be introduced around when the team hosted its annual spring camps in April, before and after the exam period. In the first round of practices, prior to exams, Lang and the team’s part-time assistants were running high energy drills in the Gryphon Dome; however, during the second set of practices, Lang was joined by a number of ‘special guest’ coaches, fuelling the speculative fire about who will ultimately be named as the new head coach’s assistants.
Canadian university football message boards and chat forums have been riddled with speculation, name-dropping and an abundance of questions wondering just who these two critical hires will be. Everyone from former Gryphons coaches to CIS football alumni to former CFL superstars have had their names brought up at one point in time, but as of yet, nothing concrete has been determined or announced.
On offence, the Gryphons will begin the 2010 season with a new look under centre. For the first time in the past four years, the coaching staff won’t be able to simply plug Justin Dunk in at quarterback and be able to feel confident that their system is in veteran hands. Instead, with Dunk having graduated, the Gryphons will send out a new signal-caller, likely second-year southpaw Chris Rossetti, who played sparingly last year.
If he is named the starter, Rossetti will be faced with the difficult tasks of not only taking on a new full-time playing role, but also developing a relationship with a new offensive coordinator. Former head coach Kyle Walters called the plays in recent years, a responsibility that will now rest with the yet-to-be-named offensive coordinator. For a rebuilding team with unproven offensive talent, this relationship between quarterback and coordinator could make or break the season.
Perhaps the late April practices were an opportunity for Lang to gauge who, among the guest coaches, would be the most appropriate to take on such a critical role with the team, or perhaps the right man for the job has yet to take to the field and the guest coach roster was merely a smokescreen of eye candy for speculators. Only time will tell.
But, sooner rather than later, this team will have to make the final decision as to how they plan to fill out their coaching ranks. As a team making such a significant transition to a new era—with both new coaches and key players—developing a sense of team chemistry, unity and collective direction among its staff will be critical going forward.