November 27, 2006

Danny Barrett era ends in Saskatchewan

REGINA (CP) – The Saskatchewan Roughriders parted ways with Danny Barrett on Monday, ending his run as head coach after seven seasons.

General manager Eric Tillman said the team wouldn’t renew Barrett’s expiring contract during a news conference at Mosaic Stadium, ending the speculation which has swirled since he took over from the fired Roy Shivers in August.

“The decision that was made … it’s one I’ve come to accept,” said Barrett. “You don’t always have to agree with things but you have to accept things in life.”

The Roughriders were 9-9 this season and lost to the B.C. Lions in the West Division final. Under Barrett, Saskatchewan has had just one winning season and has not hosted a home playoff game.

He leaves with a career mark of 57-68-1.

After the playoff loss to the Lions, Barrett rated his chances of returning at “50-50. I’m an open-minded individual, always have been.”

Tillman considered bringing Barrett back for one more year with a performance-based option but said: “In the final analysis I had to take emotion out of the equation and look at the internal turmoil that this organization has faced the last couple of years. …

“I realized as much as I have affection and respect for Danny, that we had to either make a multiyear commitment or stabilize the ship.”

Shivers and Barrett joined the Roughriders following a disastrous 3-15 season in 1999, forming the first African-American management team in pro football history.

While the two have been credited with restoring respectability to the community-owned franchise they have also been criticized for never being able to rise above the level of mediocre.

“There’s two ways you can look at this – you can either be bitter or be better,” said Barrett. “I’d like to think I’m a better man for coming here, I know I’m a better coach and I leave a better person.”

Barrett is well respected around the CFL and received a hearty endorsement from Toronto Argos coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons as the season’s end neared. The two are friends and he could end up filling the team’s opening for an offensive co-ordinator.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are the only other CFL team looking for a head coach. They need to replace Ron Lancaster, who took over in mid-season after Greg Marshall was fired.