To start the month of October, a change was made in Ottawa, and at TD Place. The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks made it public that the organization would be parting ways with head coach Paul LaPolice.
LaPolice was hired by the Ottawa Redblacks following the 2019 CFL season, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. He coached the entirety of the 2021 CFL season, and the first 14 games of the 2022 season as well. In the 28 games he coached with the Redblacks he had a 6-22 record. In football, and all sports, as much of a business it is, nobody wishes for someone to lose their job, especially fellow coaches, which makes the situation a bit awkward for Redblacks coach Bob Dyce as he took on the interim head coaching role to close out this 2022 CFL season.
“I remember telling myself before that I would never take over a team in the middle of a season again.” Dyce told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “I did it in 2015 with Saskatchewan, but being here as long as I have (since 2016), I have a lot of ties to these players, a lot of relationships with these guys and I really felt like I owed it to them. Any success that I’ve had in Ottawa as a coach has been based on having great players and since the time I got here I’ve worked with some phenomenal guys and certainly know I wouldn’t step away from an opportunity to help lead them going forward.”
Dyce has been the special teams co-ordinator in Ottawa since the 2016 CFL season. When he refers to the players, and the success within the Redblacks special teams unit, there has really been no shortage of it. From a 55 yard field goal from Chris Milo to go into O.T, opening up the 2016 Grey Cup season, to Brett Maher kicking his way back into the NFL, to Diontae Spencer, Lewis Ward, and DeVonte Dedmon breaking pro football records, not even mentioning the success of L.P Bourassa, Richie Leone, and so many others, Dyce has, year after year, coached if not the best special teams unit in the CFL. It may not be under the circumstances that he had hoped, but this opportunity to close out the 2022 CFL season as the head coach for the Redblacks is well deserved, something the players recognize as well. “Its been great to play for him.” defensive back Sherrod Baltimore said, “we love coach Dyce. He’s more than just a coach to us. He’s fixed my scooter breaks before, he’s given us life lessons, he’s like an uncle, father and a coach. I’ve got nothing but love for him. He’s a very smart coach, he knows what he’s doing, and he knows exactly what’s going on on the field, great attention to details and he has high expectations for us. I’m happy for him and his family, and I hope we can go out and win this last game for him.”
That love shown from Sherrod Baltimore, who has been with the Redblacks since the 2017 season, and has been on special teams units, coached by Bob Dyce is something shown across the locker room. Baltimore is just an example of a player at TD Place, playing this last regular season game, a home afternoon game to be exact, playing for coach Dyce.
While Baltimore and the players are excited to close out this 2022 CFL season at home, hopefully with a win in front of the home crowd, so is coach Bob Dyce. This game will mark a closure to what wasn’t a great season in the nation’s capital, but with so much potential still remaining within the organization, this game could preview some things for the future of the Redblacks. “I’d love to see the players end the season on a positive note.” Dyce explained, “we said we’d work hard in these last four games and said we would see where we’d end up at the end of it. Obviously we didn’t end up in the playoffs like we may have hoped, but this is still a great opportunity against a very good team. Its been a challenging year, and I would like these guys to go home after this game knowing they’ve started the foundation of getting the Redblacks back to where they were like in 2016 when I came here. Making it to 2 Grey Cups in three seasons, winning one of them, and thats where this team should be.” He closed out stating, “if we all can work together, it’ll be a fantastic way to end the season, we will have great pride going into the off-season and will come back with a real dogged attitude to get back where we should be.”
This week’s game will be played at TD Place on Saturday at 5:00 against the Hamilton Tiger Cats and although it may be the last game of the season, it could very well be a kickstart to something great in the capital. With Bob Dyce on the sideline for the Redblacks, coaching such a talented unit that general manager Shawn Burke put together for this 2022 CFL season, as seen with the competitiveness over the last 3 games, R-Nation should not be disappointed with this performance going into the off-season.