The Ottawa Redblacks loaded up on free agent talent this season. The problem is, so far it hasn’t translated to the field. Due in part to a brief lock out due to ongoing negotiations with the league, and it’s player association on a new CBA, some time was missed. This seems to have hurt the Redblacks in the 2022 CFL season. However they have brought in a familiar face in the football world, Ron Selesky, in an attempt to turn this team around.
Selesky Brings Playing, Coaching, Executive Experience to Redblacks
Selesky once played center for North Central College. He went undrafted in 1987 signing with the Vikings. He would spend the 1988 training camp with the Chargers who were still based in San Diego at the time. After one season out of football he bounced back with an offer to join the Miami Dolphins for training camp in 1990.
It wasn’t until 1992 that he got another chance to play. This time with the Detroit Lions. Five years after his playing career ended, the former center jumped into the other side of football. He would join the Tampa Bay Storm in 1997 as an assistant coach, and director of player personnel. He held this position for three seasons.
During that stretch the Storm had a very successful run. They would post a 31-11 record over that span ending up in the playoffs each season with an Arena Bowl loss in 1998. During that stretch Selesky started to gain a reputation as a talent evaluator with Tracey Perkins, and Johnnie Harris winning defensive player of the year in 97, 98, and Charles Wilson winning rookie of the year.
Moving Up in the Coaching World
For the 2000 season he joined the Carolina Cobras as their line coach and also director of player personnel. Given the iron man rules Selesky coached both offensive and defensive line at the time. He caught the eye of AF2 team the Louisville Fire where he was hired as their head coach for the 2001 season. His first opportunity to run a team.
Ironically he was not given the director of player personnel position in his first stop as a head coach. In 2002 he would move on to the Albany Conquest again as the head coach but not the director of player personnel. During this season he won AF2 coach of the year, leading his team to a 13-3 record. Ultimately the Conquest would lose in the playoffs, finishing the season 14-4.
Back to the Big Leagues
It wasn’t until 2003 Selesky had personnel duties once again. In 2003 he joined the Buffalo Destroyers as their head coach/director of player personnel. Seeing an opportunity to elevate his status as a coach he made the leap back to the AFL as a head coach. They would go onto record a 5-11 record which was much below expectations and the organization acted swiftly.
After this season he was offered the defensive coordinator position for the Carolina Cobras a team he was familiar with from his time there in 2000. He wouldn’t find himself handling personnel duties again for the next four seasons. During the 2004 season, Selesky was tasked with taking over as head coach after not one but two men had previously held the job.
Prior to taking over, Eddie Khayat, and John Gregory logged just 3 wins in 10 games. Selesky took over and led the team to a .500 record over the last 6 weeks of the season. Collecting 3 wins in half the time the previous coaches had. Following a 6-10 record the team moved on to a new coaching staff and Selesky found himself returning to the same franchise he ran as the head coach in 2003. However this time returning as defensive coordinator for the now Columbus, Ohio located Destroyers.
First Taste of Coaching in Alabama
After another season, Selesky was offered and accepted another AF2 head coaching position. He would land with the Alabama Steeldogs getting his first opportunity to coach in Alabama. This is significant because he would return in the future.
In the two seasons he was there he posted a 14-18 record. Falling below .500 both years. Given his performance here he ended up moving back to the AFL as the defensive coordinator and director of player personnel for the Grand Rapids Rampage of the AFL. In 2009 the AFL shut down for the year suspending operations until the 2010 season.
Wanting to stay active Selesky decided to join Hewitt-Trussville Middle School as a teacher and head coach of the football team. Talk about a treat for these kids who got an opportunity to be coached by a professional level coach and personnel director. Invaluable experience for a young kid trying to make it in the football world.
Brief Hiatus From Coaching
In the 2010 and 2011 seasons Selesky was stictly working in the personnel department with the Cleveland Gladiators. He would spend six of the next seven seasons with the Gladiators.
Leaving only to take a position with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a US scout. This likely was a blessing for his former players. He was also named as the Director of Football Operations and Compliance for their 2015 season.
In 2016 he returned to his previous position as assistant head coach. By the 2017 season he had worked his way to head coach of the Gladiators, after two years as DPP, and four as assistant head coach. Unfortunately for Selesky, the Gladiators would suspend operations the very next year.
First Experience in Spring Football
His first taste of outdoor Spring Football came very quickly after the Gladiators decided to pack up the franchise. In late 2018, Selesky was hired as director of football operations for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football. Unfortunately for Selesky he would suffer a similar fate three seasons in a row.
Ultimately after just 8 weeks the AAF folded. Leaving Selesky again searching for his next opportunity. This time he landed with XFL 2020, in the personnel department for the Tampa Bay Vipers. It’s no secret what came next…COVID struck and left the XFL with no choice but to shut down as well. At first there were hopes the league could pull out of the pandemic.
However it was announced very quickly after that Vince McMahon was filing bankruptcy on the league. Ending most hope we had for the XFL coming back in 2021. After the bankruptcy there was a sale of the rights to the league with McMahon attempting to purchase the assets. That’s when a grand jury stepped in and stopped this from happening.
Back to the Game He Loves
During this process Selesky was completely away from the game of football for almost two full seasons. Despite connections to the USFL and XFL 2023 from his time with the AAF and XFL 2020, he was overlooked for both destinations. It wasn’t until this season with the Ottawa Redblacks when he got the opportunity to return to the game he had spent nearly 35 years involved in.
He joins a Redblacks team currently in turmoil, at 2-8, after signing many prominent free agents. It remains to be seen how they infuse his expertise into the organization to help try and turn things around but with a little faith, and a lot more experience on board, I am curious to see if we see some sort of immediate turn around from the Redblacks with Selesky on board.
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