For Dave Dickenson, the decision to sign a three-year contract extension to remain with the Calgary Stampeders was an easy one.
While Dickenson has aspirations of one day becoming a head coach in the Canadian Football League, he decided that now wasn’t that time.
“One of these days, yeah hopefully I can take that step to a head coach,” said Dickenson, who was in the conversation for head coach vacancies in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa. “I didn’t allow any offers nor did I get any offers. Other people called to talk and I just politely said I wasn’t interested. It wasn’t whether it would have happened or not. It wasn’t important to me. It wasn’t something that I wanted to even entertain.”
Instead, Dickenson agreed to stay on as offensive co-ordinator with the Stamps, while also taking on the role as assistant head coach under his mentor John Hufnagel.
“I spoke with Huf and told him that I’d like to stay if we could make it work,” said Dickenson, who has run Calgary’s offence for the past three seasons, helping the Stamps lead the CFL with 1,595 points scored over that span. “I’m very happy to be back. It was a commitment to me that the club came to me and asked what my future was going to be and I really wanted to be here.
“I didn’t want to move. The other opportunities to me weren’t exciting. This is the place I wanted to be and my family wants to be. The organization to me is top notch.”
Hufnagel has no doubt that Dickenson will eventually follow in his footsteps to one day become a coach in the CFL.
“We both played quarterback (and) we were offensive co-ordinators,” said Hufnagel, when asked about the similarities in their career paths. “We’ve got two out of two and there will be a day I’m sure it’ll be three out of three.”
Hufnagel said he’s looking forward to working with Dickenson as his assistant for at least the next three seasons.
“To secure Dave’s appointment here is a big step in the continuance of the Calgary Stampeders being a good football team and hopefully becoming a great football team in the very near future,” Hufnagel said. “I’ve really enjoyed Dave’s growth since he’s become a football coach and with what he and his staff have accomplished since he became an offensive co-ordinator has been excellent work.”
With Dickenson calling the shots this past season, Calgary led the league with 549 points scored with an offence featuring rushing champion and most outstanding player Jon Cornish of New Westminster, B.C.
Quarterbacks Kevin Glenn, Drew Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell all earned victories as starters as the Stamps led the league with a 14-4 record before suffering a disappointing 35-13 setback to the eventual Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division final at home on Nov. 17.
“We still had a disappointing finish, but there were so many positives,” Dickenson said. “To me it was something that I wanted to stay a part of and it wasn’t really that hard to line something up and get an extension. I still feel fairly young as a coach.”
Dickenson’s association with the Stampeders started in 1996 when he joined the team as a quarterback. He played four seasons in Calgary, winning the 2000 most outstanding player before trying to break into the NFL.
He returned to the CFL in 2003 and played five seasons with the B.C. Lions, where he led them to a championship in 2006 and was named Grey Cup MVP.
He then returned to Calgary for a final season in 2008, serving as a backup to Henry Burris, before retiring and joining the Stamps as a running backs coach.
Dickenson finished his playing career with three Grey Cup rings, including one with Calgary in 1998, and he’d like nothing more than to help the Stamps win another championship.
“I want us to get to the point where we’re always successful, that we feel like we have a shot at the ring every year and just keep kicking at it and hopefully we can make a breakthrough,” he said. “I hope people appreciate the job we did this year. I know our players are the main reason we’re having success, but I do think there’s other reasons. We have a great organization, great scouting and assistant coaches that are on top of their game as well.”