Lions pick a Huskie as new football coach

Mike McLean, York University Lions new coachYork University Sport & Recreation has announced the hiring of Mike McLean as head coach of the Lions football team.

McLean becomes the eighth head coach in Lions history after serving as defensive coordinator for the Saint Mary’s Huskies the past two seasons and helping the Halifax-based Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) team advance to the Vanier Cup in 2007. Prior to his time at Saint Mary’s, McLean led the Edmonton Huskies to two Canadian Junior Football League championships.

McLean also brings professional playing experience to York, having played seven seasons (1985-1992) as a linebacker with the Edmonton Eskimos and winning the Grey Cup in 1987.

Right: Coach Mike McLean

“We are very excited to have Mike leading our program here at York,” said Patricia Murray, director of sport & recreation in York’s Faculty of Health. “Mike’s outstanding results with the Saint Mary’s Huskies and the Edmonton Huskies prove that he is capable of turning the Lions into a national contender. Mike is known as a players’ coach and we believe our team will benefit greatly from his presence. We look forward to watching him help make the Lions one of the premier programs in the country.”

McLean’s defence was the top-ranked unit in Canada in 2007. The Saint Mary’s defence played a major role in a 24-2 win over the defending Vanier Cup champion and top-ranked Laval Rouge et Or in the Uteck Bowl semi-final this past season. In his first year at Saint Mary’s in 2006, McLean’s defence was ranked third in the country.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me,” McLean said. “The sky is the limit for the program here at York. We’re in the centre of Canada, in the biggest city in the country. The Greater Toronto Area has so many talented players and it’s a great football area.

“My goal is to develop a program that has success year in and year out. I want to put a product on the field that students, staff and alumni can be proud of every year.”

A native of Camrose, Alta., McLean made the move to Saint Mary’s after a successful five-year run as head coach of the Edmonton Huskies. McLean helped the Edmonton Huskies win back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005 and was named Football Alberta’s coach of the year in 2004. The season before his arrival in Edmonton, the Huskies were 0-9.

As a player, McLean was a four-year captain for the University of Alberta Golden Bears (1981-1985). He was named a CIS all-Canadian in 1985 and was a Canada West all-star in 1983 and 1985.

McLean replaces Andy McEvoy, who served as interim head coach of the Lions in 2007. McEvoy will return to his previous position as an assistant coach, a job he held for three years prior to his promotion to interim head coach.

“We’d like to thank Andy for his contribution as interim head coach,” Murray said. “He helped take us through a transition period and was a professional in every way.”

McLean starts Feb. 25 and will be meeting with the coaches, athletes, staff and alumni during his first weeks at York.

The Lions,who will begin training camp in August, play their 2008 season opener on Labour Day (Sept. 1, at 1pm) against the Windsor Lancers at York Stadium.

Submitted to YFile by Mike Koreen, sport & recreation information officer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.