Clan look for new football coach as Chapdelaine resigns

Jacques Chapdelaine coaching what turned out to be his last game with the Clan, November 15 against the Central Washington Wildcats — a 40-27 loss.

Wednesday evening, SFU announced that Clan football head coach Jacques Chapdelaine has resigned “to pursue other career options.”

Chapdelaine, a Clan alumnus himself, was brought in this past February to replace former head coach Dave Johnson, who was dismissed in November last year. Prior to coaching at SFU, Chapdelaine was an offensive coordinator with the BC Lions and had spent time on various coaching staffs in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Recent speculation has predicted him making another appearance in the CFL as the new offensive coordinator for the Saskatchewan Roughriders — although neither Chapdelaine nor the Roughriders have confirmed the reports.

Meanwhile, SFU now has to find a new head coach, and will yet again have to move forward recruiting without the eyes of the man who will coach the team.

However, athletics director Milt Richards stated that Chapdelaine left the team in good shape before his departure.

“Jacques Chapdelaine and staff have put the program in excellent shape to succeed,” Richards told the Peak Thursday. “We’re disappointed that he’s decided to move on, but we’ll be fine. We’ll be naming an interim head coach in the next few weeks, and we’re going to start a national search, and we’ll recruit a great coach like we did before.”

The interim head coach will lead recruitment efforts while SFU begins it search for a new coach — which has already drummed up significant interest.

“It’s only been a day, and I’ve already had about 15 people inquire about the position,” said Richards.

As for a timeframe, Richards noted that it took less than 90 days to hire Chapdelaine earlier this year. As well, preference will be given to Canadians or “those authorised to work in Canada” which would speed up the process.

“I’m happy with the process, and it worked before. It worked with Gina Schmidt, our volleyball coach, it worked when we hired Annie Hamel, our women’s soccer coach, and it worked when we hired coach Chapdelaine. And it’s going to work again,” said Richards.

When asked about possible concerns about recruiting without the head coach in place, Richards stated that he was not worried.

“I think the head coach makes a tremendous difference, but I also think think a great university that plays in the NCAA [and] that’s located in Vancouver is very attractive to a lot of recruits,” he noted. “We’ve been talking to some good kids, I think we’re going to continue to do that, and hopefully we’ll win some of those prospects.”

Although he admits that Chapdelaine’s departures creates some new “challenges,” he refuses to call this a setback for the team. Richards is confident that the Clan are trending in the right direction, and will continue to do so under the next head coach.

“I think we’re going to continue to get better,” he stated. “Even though our record was 2-9 this year, I thought we had a good team. We played hard, I thought we were in a lot of games, and I hope to improve on that. And I think we will.”