The exodus of coaches continues at Ottawa: David DeAveiro is moving to McGill, meaning the Gee-Gees have lost the leaders of two flagship teams in less than two months.
DeAveiro will be attempting to turn around the Redmen, having already done so with the Gee-Gees, whom he transformed from one of the worst teams in the country to a contender which earned CIS tournament berths in 2005, '07 and '09. One has to wonder how Ottawa athletic director Luc Gélineau can rationalize letting DeAveiro, who presided over a perennial Top 10 men's basketball team, walk away weeks after Denis Piché stepped down from a perennial Top 10 football team.
(Of course, all of this is framed against considerably larger challenges facing the University of Ottawa, as noted in the comments and in Saturday's Ottawa Citizen by the awesome Randall Denley. However, sloughing off the small stuff doesn't help solve major issues.)
York is in the same boat with coaching changes, but its were understandable. Long-time Lions men's hoops coach Bob Bain retired after 37 years and the football team has lost 19 consecutive games. In Ottawa's case, it's had three productive coaches in mid-career, counting hockey coach Shelley Coolidge (now at Carleton), each leave in less than 12 months.
The question is no longer why, it's who, or more like who's next?
One always tries to have some regard for a coach's privacy with these matters, since it's not like we're talking about NCAA Division I coaches with seven-figure annual incomes. There were signs DeAveiro was looking for a change. He interviewed with Ryerson before it hired Roy Rana. Following the 2009 Final 8, I had someone call me who asked if I had noticed something odd after Ottawa's consolation-game win over Concordia. The Gee-Gees assembled for a team photo, but DeAveiro didn't join them even after the players waved him over.
The upshot is this is good for McGill and the QSSF, which is coming off a season where it got completely blanked in the coaches' poll. Between DeAveiro, Concordia's John Dore and UQAM's Olga Hrycak, Bishop's Rod Gilpin and Jacques Paiement Jr. at Laval, there's a lot of talent and energy on the sidelines in that league. One would hope that translates into the Q getting a first-round W at the Final 8 before too long.
Meantime, as much as people are happy for DeAveiro and his opportunity at McGill, his departure closes the book on a great period in the Canal War. The Carleton-Ottawa city rivalry was probably never more tense than it was in 2006 and '07, when the Gee-Gees won the January matchup each time and the Ravens rallied to win the national title.
It takes two special teams in order to produce that atmosphere, and right now it is hard to imagine it being repeated without DeAveiro at the opposite end at the court from the Carleton coaching staff. His successor stands to inherit talents such as Warren Ward, Keisha Edwards and Ryan Malcolm-Campbell, but the bar was set fairly high at Ottawa.
It's a tough act to follow, especially if there's a morale problem at the university. It feels like Ottawa is really at a crossroads, especially if Carleton builds a competitive football program.
(Talk about omens: during some spring cleaning today brought on by a pending move to a new job, I happened across a 2007 Ottawa Sun clipping of an article about DeAveiro's Gee-Gees. This comes on the same day my likely last column in the Sun appeared with quotes from Carleton AD Jennifer Brenning, who was also previously at Ottawa.)