Eskimos name Jason Maas new head coach
EDMONTON – When Jason Maas was offered the position of head coach of the Grey Cup champion Edmonton Eskimos there was no hesitation whatsoever before he said yes.
The former Eskimo quarterback was introduced Monday as the team’s new head coach, replacing Chris Jones who left to become vice-president of football operations, general manager and head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Maas, with three Grey Cup rings to his credit — two while playing for Edmonton — said the opportunity was simply too good to pass up.
“I’m thrilled, I’m very passionate about the city and I’m glad to be back,” Mass told a news conference in the Eskimos dressing room. “My goal was always at some point to come back to Edmonton. This is always where I wanted to end up.”
Even he admitted, however, he didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. He’s only been coaching three years since retiring in 2011. He was quarterbacks and receivers coach for the Toronto Argonauts from 2012 to ’14 and this past season was offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Ottawa Redblacks who lost the Grey Cup to Edmonton.
“I understand the expectations of Edmonton,” he said. “I would prefer to come into a situation with great personnel and great staff and great people and when you’re 14-4 and you’ve won the Grey Cup I believe it’s obvious you have that here.”
Maas said he will be making announcements in January on assistant coaches.
Still to be worked out between the Eskimos and the Redblacks is the issue of compensation. Traditionally CFL teams have not asked for compensation when coaches leave for better opportunities but Ottawa has asked. Hervey, who did not ask for compensation from Saskatchewan when Jones left, said he had no comment to make on the situation.
Maas spent nine years with Edmonton, 2000-05 and 2008-2010, helping them to Grey Cup wins in 2002 and 2005 and was the Eskimos outstanding player in 2001 and 2004.
Returning to Edmonton, he said, will also provide the opportunity to reunite his family in a city they love.
“It’s been a long journey. It’s been four years of us being apart, with an understanding wife and kids, to allow me to have my passion for football and to realize a dream and a goal,” he said.
Although he and general manager Ed Hervey were teammates on the Eskimos and remain good friends, Hervey said that wasn’t a big factor in his decision.
“The process was very thorough. Many may feel that because we’ve had an existing relationship with each other that it was a slam dunk decision,” he said. “There were many qualified candidates out there but I felt that where our organization is moving forward, this is a seamless transition for us.
“Some may question if there’s experience there but I take a look at his background, not only how he prepared as a player, how he prepared as a position coach, but the excellent job he did as offensive co-ordinator in his recent position.”
In Ottawa, Maas installed an offensive system that saw the team lead in the CFL in offensive yards, passing yards and rushing touchdowns and his guidance helped veteran quarterback Henry Burris become the league’s leading passer and the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player.
It was that ability to work well with young players and veterans alike, to earn their respect and get them to accept his offensive schemes was one of the factors that appealed to Hervey.