The Ottawa RedBlacks have found their man.
According to a CFL source requesting anonymity, the RedBlacks have chosen Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell as their first head coach. They’re expected to make it official Friday morning at a news conference.
Ottawa is scheduled to return to the CFL in 2014.
Campbell is a 15-year CFL coaching veteran but the Ottawa appointment would be his first as a head coach. Campbell is the third CFL head coach to be hired this off-season behind Edmonton’s Chris Jones and Winnipeg’s Mike O’Shea.
All three are first-time CFL head coaches.
Campbell is the son of legendary Edmonton Eskimos head coach and executive Hugh Campbell and has spent the last two years as Calgary’s defensive co-ordinator.
This past season, Calgary recorded a CFL-best 63 sacks en route to posting a league-best 14-4 record. But the Stampeders lost 35-13 to eventual Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan in the West Division final.
Campbell had been mentioned as a leading candidate for Edmonton’s head-coaching job, which went to Jones. Campbell succeeded Jones as Calgary’s defensive co-ordinator in 2012 when Jones left to join the Toronto Argonauts.
Also reportedly considered for the Ottawa job were former CFL head coaches Paul LaPolice, Greg Marshall, Doug Berry, Marcel Bellefeuille and Danny Maciocia.
This past season, Calgary boasted two of the CFL’s top pass rushers in Charleston Hughes (league-high 18 sacks) and Cordarro Law (third with 14). Hughes was both a West Division and CFL all-star in 2013.
Hughes and Law also anchored a defence that forced a league-high 11 turnovers on downs and was second in fewest points allowed (22.9 per game).
In its first year under Campbell’s guidance, Calgary’s defence was second in sacks (43) and third in points allowed (23.9 per game).
Campbell joined the Stampeders’ staff in 2010 as their running backs coach. That year Calgary boasted the league’s top ground attack with 2,618 rushing yards.
In 2011, Campbell was Edmonton’s assistant head coach and special-teams co-ordinator. He has spent the bulk of his CFL coaching career — 11 years in fact — with Edmonton, having served as an assistant head coach, special-teams co-ordinator, secondary coach and defensive co-ordinator during that time.
Campbell won Grey Cups with the Eskimos in 2003 and ‘05.
Campbell also served as a special-teams co-ordinator and defensive backs coach with Winnipeg in ‘09.
Prior to coming to the CFL, Campbell was secondary and special-teams coach at the University of Oregon as a graduate assistant from ‘96-’98.
Now with a head coach in tow, the RedBlacks can look ahead to the CFL expansion draft Dec. 16. Ottawa will select 24 players (eight imports, 16 Canadians) over three rounds.
The RedBlacks will take eight imports in the first round before selecting eight Canadians in each of the final two.