Things are going to be different this season now that Mike Benevides is the head coach of the B.C. Lions.
Just how different, no one quite knows.
Like any new coach, Benevides has his own ideas on how the Lions can be improved. He plans to put his own stamp on the team and its players. He also wants to step out of his predecessor's shadow and establish his own identity.
The challenge faced by Benevides is made even more difficult because he's taking over a team basking in the glow of a Grey Cup championship. He's also following in Wally Buono's footsteps, the man who won more games in the CFL than any other coach.
"It's a different dynamic,'' agreed Benevides.
With the Lions holding training camp in Kamloops, B.C., the players are getting their first glimpse of life under Benevides.
"There's no question it's going to be different,'' said quarterback Travis Lulay.
"It still kind of remains to be seen with some of us exactly how it's going to be different. I think one thing we feel good about is we trust Mike Benevides. Whatever he makes as changes is going to be received well by the guys.''
Benevides has already made his mark. One of the early jokes at camp is some players are complaining that Benevides is tougher than Buono.
One thing the new coach wants to make clear; he's not the old coach.
"I am going to be me,'' said Benevides."I can't be him. I would not be true to myself if I wasn't me. ''
That's fine with Buono.
"I feel really good about our new head coach,'' said Buono, who stepped down as head coach in December but retained his job as B.C.'s general manager and vice-president of football operations.
"He's done an excellent job of assembling his coaching staff, developing an offensive scheme, a defensive scheme and special teams scheme. He's done a good job of re-challenging some of the coaches so they are more specific in what we are doing.''
There is room for improvement in B.C. The Lions had a horrible 1-5 start last season but ended up finishing first in the West with an 11-7 record that left them in a three-way tie with Edmonton and Calgary. It was only the second time since 2001 a team finished first in the West with less than 12 victories.
Benevides preaches a tough brand of football, both physically and mentally. Not only does he want his players to punish the opposition, he wants them to be smart doing it.
"I'm going to be a guy who is going to be formulating a tough team, not only physically but mentally'' said Benevides. "We are going to attack in all three phases. We are going to push the envelope. We are going to attack and find ways to manufacture explosive plays.''
Benevides was long viewed as Buono's heir apparent. He stuck with the Lions even when other head coaching jobs came available in the CFL.
What will probably help the coaching transfer of power is the long relationship Buono and Benevides have enjoyed. It's almost like the father passing the family business onto the son who has spent his life working at the company.
Benevides, a 44-year-old native of Toronto, worked under Buono as special team coordinator with the Calgary Stampeders from 2000-2002.
When Buono left Calgary to take over the Lions in 2003, Benevides made the journey over the Rockies to be B.C.'s special teams coach. From 2008 to last season he was the Lions defensive co-ordinator and linebackers coach.
Benevides and Buono understand each other. There won't be a learning curve as the two men adjust to each other’s personalities. There shouldn't be philosophical clashes over tactics or handling of players.
"When you come into a new place there can be a lot of insecurity,'' said Benevides, who attended Bakersfield College in California on an athletic scholarship and played nosetackle on the school’s 1988 national championship team. "It's a situation where I've been part of this team and part of this program for 11 seasons.
"I know the organization, I know the roster, I know the G.M. Wally and I have a strong relationship. We know how each other operates. I think that puts us in good shape.''
Having a future Hall of Fame member hold an office down the hall could be intimidating for some rookie head coaches. For Benevides it's something he's become accustom to.
"For me it's nothing but advantageous,'' he said.
"I can go ask him his opinion. He's on my side. He's not against me. There is no fear, no intimidation. It's very much a working relationship based on respect.''
Veteran slotback Geroy Simon, who is poised to become the league's all-time leading receiver, said Benevides brings different skills than Buono.
"I know the communication with the players, it was really good with Wally, (but) I think it's going to continue and maybe be a little better,'' said Simon.
"Mike really feels the veterans and the leadership group have a good finger on pulse of the locker room. He wants to keep those lines of communication open.
"That might be a little bit of a change.''
As head coach, Benevides isn't about to re-invent the wheel. Under Buono he helped develop a formula for success. But that's doesn't mean the formula can't be tweaked.
"There are certain tendencies that never change,'' said Benevides. "There is a reason why he (Buono) won more games than anybody else. That's someone I've mentored under.
"There is going to be a lot of similarities but there are going to be a lot of differences too. In the end, the proof will be in the pudding how it's different.''