April 3, 2020

Preparation remains key for Campbell

In this uncertain world of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, Rick Campbell is still in full football preparation mode. Still, the Lions head coach couldn’t resist to check out some of the latest Netflix crazes.

“I was able to walk in on my wife watching Tiger King. If that doesn’t throw you for a loop I don’t know what does,” chuckled Campbell.

“I was able to see part of that. Wow, is all I can say on that one. I like movies and I do watch them but I get ridiculed because I’ve missed some classics over the years. I even saw Dirty Dancing for the first time. Tiger King and Dirty Dancing. How can you beat that?”

With CFL training camps and everyday life on temporary hiatus, preparation for a CFL season remains top of mind for Rick Campbell and staff.

Remote World.. Preparation Is Key

He is no doubt an essential service when it comes to the success of the BC Lions. But just like many of you reading this, uncertain times are resulting in Rick Campbell being forced to work from home for the last couple of weeks with no immediate end in sight. The good news? Preparation is rolling along.

Right now a big focus lies on the CFL Draft set for April 30th. In conversation with for an episode of 1st and Now Chat, Campbell spoke about getting ready for the draft and overall adjustments given what’s happening in the world.

“We actually had an online meeting today about it,” said Campbell about the upcoming draft.

“Guys can work individually. We have some apps and programs we use to be able to watch film and do all that. People write in their reports remotely and then we’ll compile all that information and be able to go from there. 20 years ago, you couldn’t do what we’re doing now.”

In the four months since he was named the 27th head coach in franchise history, life has been anything but boring for the new sideline boss. He and new wife Brianna officially tied the knot on New Years Eve back in Ottawa where Campbell had worked for the previous six seasons and sipped from the Grey Cup in 2016.

Then not too long after settling into new digs in the Olympic Village and literally as members of his coaching staff were catching flights home after two weeks of meetings at club headquarters, COVID-19 became a lot more serious. The pandemic has now resulted in everyone working remotely. While not ideal, the head coach has fully settled into the routine. Football coaches being the creatures of habit that they are, it took a bit of adjusting.

“It’s definitely strange. A lot of people would say that, no matter what line of work you’re in,” he said.

“If you’re used to getting up, getting ready, going into the office and working from there it’s definitely different than home. We have all of the tools and resources we need to get it done. My kitchen table is my office instead of my office.  We’re just going to keep working. The only thing that’s certain right now is uncertainty. The thing we do know we can control is we can get totally prepared for the draft and continue to get ready for the season. Obviously all of us are going to have to adjust to what happens from there.”

Canadian Content

When discussing that preparation for the draft, Campbell spoke like many coaches and evaluators often do about the importance of stockpiling your roster with solid Canadian players. The current crop of Lions nationals includes receivers Lemar Durant, Shaq Johnson and Jevon Cottoy.

The squad may also have the flexibility to start up to four Canadians on the offensive line. On defence, linebacker Isaiah Guzylak-Messam was thrust into some starting duties last season. With the Lions currently slated to pick third overall, this year’s draft will provide more intriguing prospects. The important thing is, Campbell is impressed by what he is inheriting.

“It’s really good. The guys you mention, that group of receivers, really good players. We were able to sign Derek Jones as a free agent and we have some really good offensive lineman. We’re really fortunate on that front,” said the head coach.

“Having really good depth gives us options on how we want to work that out. That’s why the draft is so key. One of the key ways to win in the CFL is to draft well and draft your own Canadians. BC has done a great job of that and we need to continue to do that. It gives you options and flexibility on the ratio.”

If 2020 proves to be like last year’s draft for Campbell, GM Ed Hervey and the entire scouting brass will be more than happy. Despite not picking until round three, four players- Noah Robinson, Hakeem Johnson, Mario Villamizar and Surrey product Jamel Lyles– all made the roster and had significant playing time.

With CFL training camps and everyday life on temporary hiatus, preparation for a CFL season remains top of mind for Rick Campbell and staff.

A Year Like No Other

The preparation for Campbell and his staff obviously has a dark cloud of uncertainty having over it. With this week’s announcement that CFL training camps are temporarily delayed, the challenge they face now is still staying on top of things with the optimistic view being they will be hitting the field at some point beyond May 17th.

“I don’t think it can change it,” he said of the preparation for 2020.

“Part of my job as the head coach is to make sure training camp is all organized, practices and all of that; we’ve actually already done all that but obviously it’s going to change. That’s part of life and part of football is being able to adapt.”

Lions fans can take comfort in the fact that the plans and expectations will not change. The goal will be to get back to the playoffs and compete for a Grey Cup.

“We’re still going to be ready to go playbook wise and for training camp. We’re all hoping to get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

The world echos his comments.

Matt Baker: