JONES: Elks brings back Chris Jones as head coach and general manager

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Jones, 54, first joined the Greens and Golds in 2014 in his first season as head coach of the Canadian Football League, before the following season saw him guide Edmonton to his debut championship. the Gray Cup in 10 years.

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This time, Chris Jones says, he’s been here a long time, not just a long time.

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The widely celebrated and at the same time much-maligned head coach who won the most recent Gray Cup here in 2015, then fled to Saskatchewan in a week to become GM, Chief Football Officer, Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator and Head Bottle Washer, is back in Edmonton with multiple jobs with the Edmonton Elks.

But this time, he swears, it’s to settle down, dig roots, and start digging to become a much more involved member of the community and trying to copy the career paths of Wally Buono and John Hufnagel. .

“Now it’s time to be like Wally and Huff and some of that type of guy and do it for a long time and have fun doing it,” he said at a conference. press Tuesday in the EE locker room at Commonwealth Stadium.

Club president Ian Murray said there was no dispute over Jones’ footballing credentials or his history involving former players and assistant coaches, but the deciding factor was his commitment, contractually. , and the conviction involved with directors Tom Richards and Darryl Boessenkool when he came over took him looking him in the eye with his word.

“Chris has signed a four year contract and will stay on for the full four years and will be very involved in the community throughout the year,” said Murray. “I am happy and confident that this is the first proactive step in solving the problems that we have encountered and that we will start to win football matches.”

Jones has repeatedly given up on signed contracts, but when I asked him what made this one different, I found him pretty convincing about it.

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“All I could do was tell him what I wanted to say and tell him I meant what I said,” said Jones of consultant Buono, who gave the team three candidates to recommend.

“I signed a four-year contract to try to show that this is where I want to build a legacy,” he said. “I am 54 years old. Now is the time for me to do what is more consistent with what Huff and Wally did and that is to go somewhere and stay a long time.

“What I would love to do is take this organization back to where it should be and have a lot of fun doing it.”

Jones’ return involves many firsts, including being the first in franchise history to re-coach with the club for the second time and the first to fill the dual role of general manager and coach.

South Pittsburg native Tenn. Had a 0.722 winning percentage here in 2014 and 2015, making him a member of an exceptionally elite company.

Only five consecutive coaches 1978-79-80-81-82 Hugh Campbell (.722), three consecutive coaches 1954-55-56 Pop Ivy (.781) and future college football legend Darrell Royal (0.750) in 1953, a regular season career records of over 0.700.

Head coach Chris Jones is seen during an Edmonton Elks practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on July 7, 2014.
Head coach Chris Jones is seen during an Edmonton Elks practice at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on July 7, 2014. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia, file

An interesting thing is that in both cases Jones took over a squad (4-14 in 2014 and now 3-11) here that had to be well over 0.500 the year before.

Jones won the Gray Cup in 2002, 2008, 2012 as a defensive coordinator and 2015 as a head coach.

“When you are the first football head coach you get a little bit of yourself for a little while,” he said of his first round here. “You make a lot of mistakes and you learn from them.”

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You can look back and have a very positive take on Jones because of his track record. Undeniably, the players love to play for him and the coaches love to coach with him.

And you can look back and not have the difficult task of putting together a case that he didn’t embrace the concept of working for a community club in Edmonton or Saskatchewan, as was best demonstrated here when he did. refused to allow its players to continue their tradition of helping children with special needs wear them and accompany them on halfway walks as part of Monday Morning Magic, as this conflicted with its time planned training.

Jones won’t say he’s coming back a man entirely changed, but he makes it clear that he’s evolved.

He is well aware that half of the surviving season ticket holders are thrilled to see him return with his undeniable victories, while the other half still have not forgiven him for leaving, taking nearly all of his assistant coaches and a significant number of his players with him within a week of winning the Gray Cup in 2014.

Jones, of course, decided, despite all of his posts in Saskatchewan and the late date involved, to leave Saskatchewan and leave the Roughriders dry to go to the NFL’s Cleveland as an assistant coach.

When I asked him about it, he said again that it was a matter of expediency.

“My boyfriend, Freddy Kitchen, who was quarterback in Alabama when I was there to get my doctorate in 1997, ended up getting the head coach job in Cleveland,” he explained. “It was something like when you were a kid, like an opportunity to go to Disney World.

“Well I went to Disney World and I’m glad to be here.”

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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