Corey Chamblin is still seeking a return to professional football, but in the meantime he’s looking forward to his new coaching gig.
The 2013 CFL coach of the year returns to the sidelines Saturday as the assistant head coach, defensive co-ordinator and assistant offensive co-ordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, a youth football team in Chandler, Ariz., consisting of players aged five and six. Chamblin, who was fired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2015, has two sons (Carter, 5, and Keaton, 3) on the squad.
“The pay is about the same as Canada with the dollar right now,” Chamblin said with a chuckle in a telephone interview. “Some of these youth coaches come by the house and we sit in the garage and get on the white board and break things down.
“I try to help them coach and teach them how to coach. This keeps me fresh. I’m still doing all the things I did as a head coach for the most part so when the next opportunity comes I’ve still got the skills I had.”
Chamblin, 39, whose contract with Saskatchewan runs through the ’17 season, attended last year’s American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio hoping to find another coaching job. When that didn’t happen, the Birmingham, Ala., native launched Gameday Connections, a website helping coaches and athletes expand their networks and learn about the latest job opportunities.
“Sport is a business of its own but there’s nothing for us so basically this is an outlet,” he said. “We have a couple of thousand coaches on there right now from all levels and we only released it in late September.
“It’s been good just to see the networking aspect of it.”
The goal for Gameday Connections is to give coaches, teams and organizations a recruiting tool while providing young coaches the chance to promote themselves and learn of potential job vacancies. Former athletes can benefit from building online portfolios and connecting with other former players as well as perspective employers.
“The thing about coaching is you spend so much time working and competing that you don’t think about connecting,” Chamblin said. “That’s one of the most important things, you’ve got to keep your connections up.
“One of the things I found tough in Canada was when I wanted to hire a coach from the U.S. The co-ordinator’s positions in Canada have to go (to coaches with CFL experience) but for all these other positions it’s hard to find an up-and-coming coach because if you’ve been (in Canada) for 10 years you don’t know young guys. This makes it easier to find a coach at any level . . . you can filter down to what you’re actually looking for and the folks you need.”
Gameday Connections also provides links to realtors, financial planners, pro and semi-pro leagues and teams, performance consultants, agents and managers.
The site might be up and operating, but Chamblin isn’t looking to make it his full-time vocation. He’s keen to resume coaching, albeit in the right situation.
“I still have a passion for teaching, a passion for coaching but I also know in this business you need to be in the right situation,” he said. “I don’t have to be in the NFL, I don’t have to be the head coach â€” although I liked being a head coach.
“The Xs and Os, people over-rate that, it’s players who make the damn plays. If you have that, a good GM, good personnel guy and decent coaches, then you’ll be pretty good.”
Chamblin honed his coaching skills over nine years in Canada. He began his CFL coaching career in ’07 as Winnipeg’s defensive backs coach then spent the next three years in that capacity with Calgary (winning his first Grey Cup in ’08) before serving as Hamilton’s defensive co-ordinator in 2011.
Saskatchewan hired a then 34-year-old Chamblin as its head coach in December, 2011. He delivered the franchise’s fourth Grey Cup crown in 2013, but Chamblin and GM Brendan Taman were both fired following the Riders’ 0-9 start to the 2015 campaign.
Chamblin said his time away from coaching has taught him some valuable lessons.
“This year gave me a chance to sit down and say, ‘OK, what’s the stress you need to put on yourself and what’s the stress you don’t need in terms of coaching?” he said. “There’s always the stress of working so hard that you don’t get fired but what I learned is getting fired is something you can’t control.
“Win or lose, at some point it will happen. Control what you can control . . . and let the pieces fall where they may.”
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press