Was he pushed, or did he jump. Whatever the real story may be, the reality is that the Edmonton Eskimos once again are looking for a head coach, from Jackie Parker, to Ron Lancaster, through Don Matthews and now Higgins, failure can bring out the Green and Gold executioner, then again even succeeding doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of job security.
Higgins’s downfall was a misguided fake punt that turned into seven Saskatchewan points and the dismissal of the Eskimos from further playoff contention. Everyone seems to be saying that the “play” had no bearing on events, but absolutely no one is buying that brand of soap. Campbell was stressing that Tom had decided to quit, Tom himself said as much in his post resignation press conference. Higgins was apparently allowed to spin events as he wished, as long as the football fans of Edmonton were relieved of their ornery mood which had been festering since Sunday’s stunner.
From the sound of the final gun media observers and more importantly season ticket holding fans were clamouring about the lack of offence, the poor play of the special teams and of course about the “fake punt”. Indeed the end for Higgins probably came shortly after the game, when during press scrums far too many of his players expressed surprise and disappointment in the fake punt call, indirectly suggesting that they had lost faith in their coach, a sure fire way to find your coach down at Canada Employment first thing in the morning.
Probably realizing that the knives were out for him, Higgins chose his own blindfold and last meal, ending his four year coaching tour prior to that he had served as assistant GM in the Eskimo organization and nine years before that with the Stampeders. Higgins assumed the Eskimo coaching job, when Don Matthews was mysteriously dismissed as Eskies head coach by Campbell. One suspects that a card of condolence won’t be in the mail from Matthews. In that time Higgins had a rather decent record including last years Grey cup victory, but all of those accomplishments carried no weight with the increasingly annoyed fans who consider nothing short of a Grey Cup parade down Jasper Avenue to be a failed season.
The position is now open and resume are being accepted, inside track might go to Eskimo offensive co-ordinator Danny Maciocia or Defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall. The trademark of the Higgins era was that he would let his assitant coaches do the coaching. In the strange world of pro football the designer of the offence that sputtered (and possibly cost Higgins his job) may be the best candidate to appear on the top of the pile.
Perhaps a general aptitude test might help Campbell out to find just the right candidate. First question should be a multiple choice one, Q- You have a third down situation in your own end, you a) run Pringle up the middle, b) toss long to Ed Hervey, c) punt the ball as far down the field as the wind will let you d) run a high risk fake punt and pass play that will come up short!
If choosing D please put down your pencil and turn your page over, the exam is now over!
Both Maciocia and Marshall were recommended by Higgins to his former boss. The only question is do they want the job, considering the risks of coaching in Edmonton and being made subject to the short term memory loss of the fans who hold so much influence!