Mike Benevides enters his second season as head coach of the BC Lions, his 14th CFL season overall and tenth as a member of the Lions. Mike comes off a very successful 2012 campaign leading the Lions to a 13-5 mark, the most wins by a first-year head coach in club history and a feat that equals the CFL mark as well in the same category.
In addition to the record-setting wins mark for Benevides, last season was the 16th consecutive that the Lions earned a playoff spot as well as their 21st berth in a Western Final. Last year’s 13 victories has been matched just four times in the club’s history and also gave the Leos the best record in the CFL for the 10th time in 59 seasons. His eight home wins in 2012 also set a new club standard.
In 2012, the Lions led the CFL in both overall offensive and defensive categories for the first time in club history which helped Mike, the CFL’s only Canadian head coach, earn a CFL Coach of the Year nomination.
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Benevides has tutored players at each level of football from high school to CIS to the professional ranks. He spent five seasons (‘03-’07) as the Lions’ special teams coordinator and linebackers coach before being promoted to the defensive coordinator position in 2008. Following the Lions’ 2011 Grey Cup win and subsequent retiring of head coach Wally Buono, Mike was named the club’s 24th head coach in December that year.
Benevides originally joined the Lions in 2003 moving over from the Calgary Stampeders where he started as a defensive assistant in 2000 before being promoted to special teams coordinator and coaching the linebackers during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He also took on the role of Calgary’s director of Canadian scouting. In 2001, Benevides won his first Grey Cup as a member of the Stampeders’ staff.
Mike, along with player personnel coordinator Neil McEvoy and draft coordinator Kelly Bates, also takes a lead role in scouting for the annual CFL Canadian Draft and has been lauded by many as one of the league’s best evaluators of Canadian football talent. Under Mike’s leadership, the Lions have added at least two players in each of the past six seasons who have become starters or have played significant roles in the CFL, including Matt Norman, Jabar Westerman, Jon Hameister-Ries, Dean Valli, Rolly Lumbala, Jason Arakgi, Shawn Gore, Akeem Foster and Marco Iannuzzi.
Prior to beginning his coaching career, Benevides attended Bakersfield College in California on an athletic scholarship and played nosetackle on the school’s 1988 national championship team. After Bakersfield, Benevides attended York University in Toronto where his studies included Business Management and Marketing.
Mike and his family reside year-round in the Lower Mainland.