Guelph athletic director Tom Kendall and about eight players "definitely" interviewed former Laurier Golden Hawks and UBC Thunderbirds special teams coordinator Kevin MacNeill earlier this week, sources say.
MacNeill is at least the second candidate to have been interviewed for the job left vacant after Kyle Walters became special teams coordinator for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Kendall and a group of approximately 20 players interviewed former Mount Allison coach Steve LaLonde nearly two weeks ago.
MacNeill, however, met with just a committee of eight players. Kendall apparently cut the committee down by more than half after news of LaLonde's interview quickly spread.
MacNeill was a second-team All-Canadian linebacker for the Golden Hawks. He played five years for Laurier, from 1999-2003.
MacNeill signed with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes after graduation, but was back at Laurier working as a production technician at WLU's printing services while also coaching. He was first a linebackers coach and eventually was promoted to special teams coordinator before leaving for UBC where he held down the same coaching position.
However, after UBC athletic director Bob Philip fired coach Ted Goveia after the 2009 season, MacNeill was out of a job.
New UBC coach Shawn Olson filled out his coaching staff earlier this week and MacNeill wasn’t part of it.
If anything, given his love of the game and past experiences, MacNeill fits the financial billing Guelph has made public.
The position will pay between $54,000 and $84,000 per year, but $65,000 is the expected pay. It’s approximately what Guelph was paying Walters at the time of his departure.
MacNeill has no CIS head coach experience and when he was coaching at Laurier, he lived student-housing style with coach Gary Jeffries and running backs coach Barry Pyear.
Christine Rivet of the Waterloo Record wrote about the “unusual living arrangements” on Oct. 29, 2005.
"MacNeill had this to say: "Coach Jeff said something to me the other day, 'You know, Kev, I haven't worked a day in my life.'That must be music to a penny-pinching athletic department at cash-strapped school.
" 'He's right. This isn't work. It's something we'd do regardless of whether we got paid.'
MacNeill is also a standup guy whose ego university football is not about.
MacNeill graduated as Laurier’s all-time leading tackler. But in 2007, he actually assisted in assuring his record would be broken.
Fifth-year Hawks linebacker Anthony Maggiacomo broke MacNeill’s school record with 60.5 tackles that season, after MacNeill himself reviewed game tape and double-checked statistics he knew immediately were bogus.
In Laurier’s final regular-season game against York, Maggiacomo was credited with three solo tackles. Upon review, MacNeill found eight — and four assists. MacNeill submitted the evidence to the OUA which made the adjustment. It was enough to vault Maggiacomo past MacNeill in the record books.
There’s not much known about how MacNeill performed in the interview at Guelph but one source said "the players seemed to like him."
Another source wasn't so sure, saying, "MacNeill will not be the next coach of the Gryphons.”
Might he be the next defensive coordinator, though? It's fair to speculate since Billy Brown will not coach beyond his current contract, which expires June 30.