Barrett unsure of his future
REGINA (CP) – Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett waxed philosophically when asked Monday about his future.
“I feel good about my future,” Barrett told reporters, a wide, toothy smile shooting across his face. “I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’ve got a beautiful family. Future looks good.” Asked whether his future includes the CFL team he has led for the last seven years and he’s a little less sunny.
“I would say 50-50,” Barrett said. “I’m an open-minded individual, always have been.
“I know a lot of things have been said out there about different things, but right now it is 50-50 and I look forward to sitting down sometime in the next couple of days and seeing what is going to happen.”
Barrett’s future was the question on everyone’s mind as the Roughriders gathered to clean out their lockers Monday. The team was dispatched from the playoffs in humiliating fashion by the B.C. Lions 48-18 in Sunday’s Western final.
It was a less-than-storybook ending to a tumultuous season for a team that has lost three times in the Grey Cup precursor since 2003.
While the players lined up to support their coach, there was a subtle sense of resignation in the locker-room that things could be different next year.
“I don’t know if there should be changes, but I anticipate changes,” said linebacker Reggie Hunt, a five-year veteran with the club. “Who knows what’s going to happen? We got a new general manager in the middle of the season so anything’s possible.”
Speculation about how long Barrett would remain with the Roughriders has been rampant since the middle of the season when the team fired his friend and mentor Roy Shivers as general manager.
Shivers and Barrett joined the Roughriders following a disastrous 3-15 season in 1999, forming the first African-American management team in pro football history.
While the two have been credited with restoring respectability to the community-owned franchise they have also been criticized for never being able to rise above the level of mediocre.
Barrett’s regular season record as a head coach is 57-68-1 including 9-9 finishes in each of the last three seasons. The team has never finished higher than third, meaning Barrett never achieved the oft-stated goal of hosting a home playoff game.
The Roughriders’ new general manager Eric Tillman, who has said his priorities are quarterbacks, Canadians and the kicking game, has been diplomatic about the Barrett situation saying the two enjoy a good relationship.
After Sunday’s loss, Tillman said he would sit down with his coach over the next three days and decide what direction the team will head.
Barrett is quick to point out that it’s a two-way street.
His contract expired at the end of the season and he will have to decide if he even wants to come back.
“I am a free agent,” he said. “I’m open for anything and everything. I’m not going to pigeon hole myself. Obviously you want to stay at the highest level that you can. I’m not going to even rule out being a general manager.”
The players – Barrett’s biggest allies over the last few months – want him back.
“He’s a father figure,” said defensive back Omarr Morgan, a free agent who has spent seven years with the club.
“Anytime any of the players get into something in the community they come back and tell Danny. He’s like a father figure and to deal with what he has been dealing with the last seven years, most coaches can’t do that. I’d love to see the next coach they bring in and how he handles it, because it’s hard.”
Whatever happens in the off-season, wide receiver Matt Dominguez said he hopes the changes are not catastrophic.
“I’d like to see Danny back. I think some things need to be tweaked, but I don’t think our team needs to be overhauled,” Dominguez said.
“You don’t need to renovate the house. You just need to fix the basement and that is the kind of team that we’ve got.”
Barrett unsure of his future