York Lions head coach Warren Craney made two interesting hires today, picking Michael Faulds as the team's new offensive coordinator and Eric Laflamme as their new defensive coordinator. Although it's his first coaching job at the CIS level, Faulds needs no introduction to CIS football fans; he finished up a stellar quarterbacking career at Western last year and holds the CIS all-time passing record with 10,811 career yards. He led the Mustangs to back-to-back Yates Cups in 2007 and 2008, took them to the 2008 Vanier Cup, where they fell to Laval, and brought them back to the Yates this past year, where they lost to Queen's. He also played for Team Canada at the Global Junior Championships. There was some talk that a CFL team might consider giving him a shot, but nothing seemed to materialize. This move would suggest that Faulds' playing career is at an end.
His CIS coaching career may just be beginning, but Faulds already has some experience in the field. He has a master's degree in coaching from Western and has served as the offensive coordinator at the London-based First Round Football Skills Camp for top Canadian players. Still, going from executing the plays to controlling an entire offence can be a significant jump. Faulds certainly brings some name recognition to York, and all indications suggest he has the mindset to be a successful coach. Other quarterbacks have also been able to make the transition to offensive coordinator, including Laurier's Ryan Pyear and Benoit Groulx, who went from playing at Laval to the OC job at Bishop's.
Curiously enough, Faulds is following in the footsteps of the man whose CIS passing record he broke, former Queen's quarterback Tommy Denison. Neate pointed out that Denison was York's offensive coordinator in 2006. I'm not sure if Denison is still in the coaching ranks somewhere; the last mention of him as a coach I was able to find was this 2008 story about him joining the Victoria Rebels junior team after his tenure at York, but the current coaching roster doesn't include him.
Laflamme is a hire from a different mould. He has 14 years of coaching experience, eight of which are at the CIS level. He also has experience working with Craney, both last year at Concordia (where Craney was the defensive coordinator and Laflamme was an assistant) and for three years at Vanier College in the late 90s. Seven of his eight season of CIS experience came with the Montreal Carabins before he headed to Concordia last season. His speciality has been working with the defensive front, so he should be able to help boost the Lions' pass rush. Like Faulds, he's new to being a coordinator at the CIS level, but his previous coaching experience and Craney's own defensive background should help alleviate some of the concerns there.
As the Toronto Star's David Grossman pointed out in his May article on the Lions' hiring of Craney, York has a long path back to football respectability. That's perhaps made even more difficult by U of T making strides of their own across town. The addition of Faulds might help with that, as he's certainly a big name for recruiting purposes, but it's hard to tell if his lack of CIS coaching experience might hurt them. Still, no one's expecting miracles from York right away, so hopefully this staff will be given time to develop. We'll see how it pans out.
Update (June 30): It seems my assumption that taking this coaching position would end Faulds' playing career may have been premature. I've received information that Faulds didn't get a CFL shot this year because he was recovering from a knee injury, and that he may yet wind up at a CFL training camp in 2011. I'd imagine that would depend on how things go with York and what the state of CFL interest in Canadian quarterbacks is at that time, though. It will be an interesting situation to follow.
[Cross-posted to The CIS Blog]