December 12, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
ASK around the CFL and consensus is Craig Dickenson is one of the best -- if not the best -- special-teams coaches in the land.
But in a career in football Dickenson, 41, has learned a thing or two about himself. And that, in part, might best explain his resignation from the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday and official hiring by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a day later.
Dickenson is reluctant to focus on anything but his new gig and chose not to sling mud or spark rumours. But he did spell out some of the reasons he left Regina for Winnipeg -- one being he is building a house in Montana, where he lives in the off-season, and teaches skiing and snowboarding at Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish.
And when the Riders asked him to give up some of those commitments and shorten his off-season, he balked. Up stepped the Bombers -- other teams were also interested -- who apparently gave him more leeway.
That isn't solely why he's on Tim Burke's staff today, but it is a big reason.
"It basically came down to a conflict of schedule in the off-season," said Dickenson Friday from Montana. "I had made some commitments that I intended to honour and the schedule changed where I was required to be back earlier than previously discussed. It didn't jive with the commitments I had already made.
"We talked, but there wasn't a lot of wiggle room and I decided to stick to my guns with my commitments to my family and off-season activities. That's how it shook down."
Dickenson said his work at the ski resort is more than just a sideline gig. It helps him decompress after the gruelling marathon that is a football season and allows him regroup and refocus mentally.
And he had no intention of giving that up.
"It allows me to step out of my comfort zone and to be something different," he said. "I'm learning new skills in terms of teaching skiing and snowboarding and it just allows me to dive into a whole different world for a few months. I've found it refreshes me and makes me a better football coach... I just felt it's super-important and something that is a priority in my life in addition to coaching.
"Considering all that, Winnipeg was an attractive offer."
Dickenson's approach to special-teams isn't complicated. His teams are big on attention to detail and are built on basics like aggression, speed and intelligence.
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2013 C2