Roughriders extend GM Jeremy O’Day, part ways with head coach Craig Dickenson

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Jeremy O'Day speaks at a press conference inside Mosaic Stadium after the team announced it will not be renewing head coach Craig Dickenson's contract on Monday, October 23, 2023 in Regina.

Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are parting ways with head coach Craig Dickenson. 

The Riders made the announcement on Monday that they would not be renewing Dickenson’s contract, along with the rest of the coaching staff from 2023, following a second consecutive season of missing the CFL playoffs. Saskatchewan was officially eliminated from contention on Saturday after a 29-26 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

At the same time, the Riders also announced general manager and vice president of football operations Jeremy O’Day has agreed to a new three-year contract. O’Day’s previous contract was set to expire at the end of this season. 

“It means a lot,” O’Day told media at Mosaic Stadium on Monday. “I’ve been with this team for a long time. Definitely didn’t like the thoughts of leaving in the situation that we’re in right now. 

“The fact that they believe in me and believe that I’m going to be a part of turning this around means the world to me. 

“It’s something that I don’t take for granted and motivates me.” 

Dickenson served as head coach of the Riders from 2019-23, guiding the team to West Final appearances in his first two seasons. However, in his last two seasons, he led the team to back-to-back 6-12 records, which included seven-game losing skids to end each year. He ends his coaching career with a 34-34 win-loss record.

Before taking over from Chris Jones in 2019, Dickenson served as Saskatchewan’s special teams coordinator from 2016-18. He also held that role with the Riders in 2011 and 2012. 

“These are obviously not easy decisions when you’re dealing with people that are part of the organization for a long time,” said O’Day. “So, it was a challenging last 48 hours and conversations that you really don’t enjoy having with staff members that you’re close with.

“When we were starting to go on a skid at the end of the year, you start to think about it a little bit more because we’re just not having success on the field.

“It becomes a little bit more clear that we don’t have the right mix.

“I just thought that’s important to change who’s giving the message and change the direction.”

O’Day said the search for a new head coach will begin immediately. And while he couldn’t provide a timeline on when that decision will be made, he said it’s going be a thorough process.

“I’ll have an extensive list that I’ll do some preliminary interviews with and then I’ll narrow that down eventually get to a smaller group that will be more serious candidates,” said O’Day. “But it will be a wide range of people that I reach out to to start.” 

The 2024 CFL season will be O’Day’s 26th season with the Riders and his sixth year as general manager. He was the interim GM for nine games in 2015, before taking over the role permanently from Jones in 2019.

Before his time in the front office, O’Day, a former offensive lineman, played for the Riders from 1999 until his retirement in 2010. He won the Grey Cup in 2007 as a player and won another as an assistant general manager in 2013. 

Riders president and CEO Craig Reynolds said the one thing that stands out the most to him is the amount of respect O’Day has around the league, to go along with his track record of drafting, recruiting and scouting.

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post
Saskatchewan Roughriders president and CEO Craig Reynolds speaks at a press conference inside Mosaic Stadium after the team announced it will not be renewing head coach Craig Dickenson’s contract on Monday, October 23, 2023 in Regina.

“Jeremy O’Day is an outstanding general manager in our league,” said Reynolds. “There’s probably a half dozen things that a general manager needs to be good at to be successful in this league and Jeremy is the best that I’ve seen in all of those areas.”