This off season the Gryphon coaching staff has gone through some little noticed changes in addition to the resignation of Coach Lang and the promotion of coaches MacNeill and Grandy. Remember, RBs Coach Neil Lumsden also left the staff for the Athletic Director’s position at Brock. Each of the above changes also has ripple effects.
Now none of these coaching moves and title changes has yet to be officially announced to my knowledge. But, from what I’ve seen and heard, starting at the top, retired head coach Stu Lang has the honourary title of Head Coach Emeritus. Bill Brown remains Special Forces Coordinator but trades the titles of Director of Recruiting and Football Development for the new title of Director of Football Advancement.
So I think MacNeill’s coaching leadership group looks like this …
Head Coach & Coordinators
Kevin MacNeill – Head Coach
Stu Lang – Head Coach Emeritus
Bill Brown – Special Forces Coordinator & Director of Football Advancement
Todd Galloway – Offensive Coordinator
Adam Grandy – Defensive Coordinator
Obviously, the re-making of the staff doesn’t end there. There are more ripples. Below are the 2016 position coaches and assistants to the best of my knowledge. Where there is a new coach at a position, the title is in red. Where the coach is new to the staff, the coach’s name has been bolded.
O-Line Coach – Mike MacDonald
Asst O-Line Coach – Matt Nesbitt
Receivers Coach – Steve Frake
Tight Ends Coach – Alex Derma
QBs Coach – Marcello Campanero
RBs Coach – Steve Vivieros
Asst RBs Coach – Nick FitzGibbon
Offensive Assistant – Ben Coker
D-Line Coach – Brian Cluff
Asst D-Line Coach – Kevin Horn
Linebackers Coach – Adam Grandy
Asst LB Coach – Nate Galoni
Defensive Backs Coach – Devin Kavanagh
Asst DBs Coach – Mark Durigon
Defensive Assistant – Mike Aloisio
Kicking Coach – Daniel Ferraro
Personnel Coordinator – John Casasanta
Notes on position coaches:
♦ The 3 new coaches on the staff are all former Gryphon players – FitzGibbon, Durigon & Nesbitt. All 3 had outstanding careers as Gryphon players and earned OUA All Star honours. CIS All Canadian honours and a brief stint in the CFL in Fitz’s case.
♦ Long-serving assistant coach Steve Vivieros replaces Neil Lumsden as RBs Coach. Vivieros has been working with Lumsden and the running backs group for several years. Prior to that he coached Gryphon linebackers for 7 years. Vivieros promotion from Assistant RB Coach to RBs Coach left a void that All-time leading Gryphon rusher Nick FitzGibbon will fill. FitzGibbon has worked with the running backs in previous training camps.
♦ Mark Durigon becomes Assistant DBs Coach after finishing his playing career in 2012. Durigon earned one of the best nicknames that wasn’t bestowed by Randy Dimitroff – Prince of Picks. IIRC that name came from Rob Massey in the Guelph Mercury. Durigon has worked with Gryphon defensive backs in training camps since his graduation.
♦ Matt Nesbitt goes directly from starting at the Centre position and being a team captain to Assistant O-Line Coach. But Nesbitt isn’t as wet behind the ears as you might think. He has been coaching football for five years already. He is heading into his third season as the Head Coach of Guelph Minor Football’s Junior Varsity team. The Junior Gryphons JV team are defending OFC Champions. Football Ontario has also named Nesbitt to the staff of their team in this summer’s Spalding Cup.
♦ Three of the above position coaches hold additional titles for other duties.
DBs Coach Devin Kavanagh adds the title and duties of Recruiting Coordinator. With two years on the staff Kavanagh was already quite involved in recruiting. A bilingual Montreal native, Kavanagh is a key cog in the strategy to make in-roads with recruits from Quebec’s CEGEPs. Read Kavanagh’s 2015 coaching profile here.
Defensive Assistant Mike Aloisio is also the Video Coordinator. Aloisio’s salary is modest enough that it hardly begins to cover the full-time hours that he puts in. Let alone the “overtime”. But it was Aloisio’s hard work that has led to a part-time job with the CFL. While it will mean he spends a few less hours with the Gryphons the extra income may make it possible for him to stick with Gryphon Football longer. Ultimately, it would be great for him to land a full-time job with the CFL.
Yes, Alex Derma is the TEs Coach. But his most important duty is his role as Scout Team Coordinator. Every week he prepares the Scout Team to simulate the offense and defense of the next opponent in order that the Gryphons can be best prepared for their games. Derma joined Kyle Walters’ staff in 2009 then was appointed to the Scout Team job by Stu Lang in 2010.
♦ I’ve not actually been told that Adam Grandy will retain his responsibilities for linebackers. It is just an assumption I am making having not heard any talk of a replacement. Coach MacNeill handled both duties for at least a year or two when he started with the Gryphons. I think Grandy will do the same. He has a capable assistant in veteran high school coach Nate Galoni.
♦ Seven members of the Gryphon coaching staff are teachers or principals. That makes sense. If you enjoy working with young people, then both coaching and teaching will appeal to you. The teachers who coach for the Gryphons include Bill Brown, Brian Cluff, Steve Vivieros, Alex Derma, John Casasanta, Nate Galoni and Marcello Campanero. The number would be eight if you count Adam Grandy who is a certified teacher. He combined supply teaching and coaching before he became a full-time coach last year.
♦ Speaking of full-time coaches, Guelph is in the enviable position of having 5 full-time coaches on their staff. MacNeill, Galloway, Grandy, MacDonald and Kavanagh are all FT coaches. Aloisio has been full-time as well. Offensive assistant Ben Coker also essentially worked full-time hours during the season but a new job will cut back on his available time this coming season.
♦ Matt Nesbitt is another “near” FT coach. He certainly will be around campus full-time. In addition to his work with the O-Line and his coaching of the JV Jr Gryphons, he has a paying job on campus as Coordinator of Camps. He has already started to look after not only the upcoming summer football camps, but also the Winter positional camps, specialty camps and coaching clinics.