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'This will always be Saskatchewan's team': Riders' new coach introduces himself to province

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On Thursday the Saskatchewan Roughriders confirmed they had selected former Toronto Argonauts defensive coordinator Corey Mace, as the team’s 48th head coach and on Friday he addressed media and Rider Nation for the first time since taking on the new role.

“Certainly being here you understand it and you understand it when you get to know people from the province of Saskatchewan, what this logo and what this team means to this community,” Mace said. “I take pride in that and I know the community takes pride in this team and I will never lose sight of that. I’ll do everything I can to provide that sentiment to the gentlemen who are going to [wear] the jerseys,” Mace added.

According to TSN’s Farhan Lalji, the green and white had narrowed its search down to Mace and Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive coordinator Buck Pierce.

“We wanted the coach to be someone that was a leader, obviously that’s been in the role of leadership coming up through the CFL. Someone that has a great ability to be in front of people, not only the players,” Riders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day said.

“Someone that was honest, someone that you could trust, someone that possesses a great work ethic. We wanted someone that was a proven winner and lastly someone that was not only willing, but wanted to get involved in the community,” O’Day added.

Mace had been with the Argos since January 2022.

“Right from the first impression to the last impression was the reason why [we chose Mace] but again lots of good candidates. I know that lots of stuff gets reported and there were lots of conversations that happened. We did our due diligence on the candidates, but again through the process it became clear who the guy was,” O’Day said on the selection process.

At 37 years old, the hiring marks the first time Mace will serve as a head coach in the CFL.

“We took that time through the interview process to get to know each other. So that opportunity for me to come in and do [this] with somebody who I trust and I know wants the same vision. It was an easy one for me, but in general just to be a head coach has always been a dream of mine,” Mace said.

Mace knows he has his work cut out for him in a market with diehard fans full of high expectations especially after missing the playoffs the last two seasons.

“I understand the expectations for any organization and what you want from a team. I’m very black and white. So each year there’s only one good team, that’s how I look at it. You either win the last game or you don’t. Whether you were in it and you loss or you didn’t even get to the playoffs. It’s the same, you didn’t get the win. I think people within the football community we understand there’s a lot of talent on this roster,” Mace said.

Mace was already faced with questions surrounding the team’s starting quarterback next season. It comes as Trevor Harris, 38, is expected to be healthy in the second year of his two-year deal next season after missing the majority of 2023 with a significant leg injury.

“I FaceTimed Trevor yesterday. We had a great conversation. I think the trajectory of the season for this organization changed a little bit when he got hurt. He’s been an outstanding quarterback in this league for years. Obviously possesses all the skill sets to be a winner. I think having you know his leadership and experience within the locker room will certainly not only galvanize the guys, but I think the relationship that Trevor and I build together, he’s going to be an extension of my voice on the field,” Mace said.

“Trevor has been always really good to work with and I know there’s speculation and stuff about the past, but we’ll have those conversations going forward and again we’ll always do what’s best for the organization,” O’Day said.

Harris is just one of the first players to get to know the new coach as Mace says his first order of business is getting to know his team.

“Number one I can’t wait to hop on the phone and just talk with the players on this roster. I mean that’s the number one thing for me. I’m big on relationships that’s important to me. We’ll start right there with the players which I’m sure we’ll dive into today [Friday],” Mace shared.

Prior to his time in Toronto, Mace spent 12 years with the Calgary Stampeders, serving six years as a player followed by another six as a defensive line coach.

Now Mace and the organization are tasked with filling the coaching staff around him.

“We have a solid idea of who we’d like to bring in but there’s a certain process you have to follow within the CFL’s rules. So we’re going to continue to work on that and I’m sure even today we’ll start you know hammering some more of that out,” Mace said.

As a player, Mace suited up for 40 games with the Stamps. He retired after missing the entire 2015 season due to an injury.

Originally from Port Moody, B.C., Mace has hoisted the Grey Cup in victory three times – in 2014 and 2018 as a Stampeder and in 2022 as an Argonaut.

Now he knows the task at hand is to bring success to Saskatchewan.

“While J-O (Jeremy O’Day) is the GM, Craig’s the President, and I’m the head coach, this is Saskatchewan’s team. I will never lose sight of that and the players will not lose sight of that either. I’m excited about that,” Mace exclaimed.

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