Champions on 2012 Argos staff, O'Shea and Maas set sights on next ring at Grey Cup
HAMILTON - From battling during their days on the field to hoisting the Grey Cup as members of the 2012 Toronto Argonauts coaching staff, Mike O'Shea and Jason Maas look to add to their championship resumes when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes meet on Sunday.
Watch and stream the 110th Grey Cup between the Blue Bombers and the Alouettes on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT with pre-game coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT LIVE on TSN1/3/5, TSN.ca, and the TSN App.
O'Shea was hired by the Argonauts as a special teams coordinator in 2010 following an illustrious playing career with the club, which included three Grey Cup championships (1996, 1997, 2004). Maas, who spent two stints with Edmonton (2000-05, 2008-11) the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2006-07), and the Alouettes (2007), served as the quarterbacks coach to future Hall of Fame pivot Ricky Ray.
After touching down in Hamilton on Monday, the two reflected on their playing days, working together in Toronto, and how they've grown in the decade-plus since.
"Having played against Osh for as long as [I did] in my career, and then getting a chance to be on the same side as him, you look at the work ethic it takes as a player to play as long as he did and see it as a coach right away [with] the professionalism he takes each and every day; the dedication to his craft," Maas said Tuesday.
“Osh is a great person, and you only get to see that when you’re around him every single day. [He’s] a lot of fun to be around as well, so [he] lightened the mood for me [in my] first year coaching.”
"Playing against Jay, obviously, you know how competitive he is," said O'Shea. "But when you're in the same building and you decide to workout with him, you get schooled every single day in every single exercise you ever do. You see how competitive, how fiery he was."
While the two share the accomplishment of helping lead a team to a Grey Cup ring, they could not be more different when it comes to their coaching styles.
Viewed as a reserved, lead-by-example type, O'Shea possesses a calm demeanour on the sidelines and in his press conferences – not something that can be said about the animated Maas.
"You are what you are," said Maas proudly. "I talked about it yesterday, about noticing an awareness of yourself and the growth you need to have at times. That was something that I've grown to understand about myself and tried to be better at this year. But we're both each other.
"The things that people have noticed about the way I've done things differently this year is because I want to personally change. I wanted to represent something different about myself, and I felt it needed to be changed in order to maybe be in this chair someday."
Maas was named Alouettes head coach this past off-season after a turbulent 2022 season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as the team's offensive coordinator. Maas' contract with the Roughriders was not renewed, sparking his, and free-agent quarterback Cody Fajardo's, move to Montreal.
Adversity and uncertainty hit Maas and the Alouettes almost instantly. Following the introduction of new ownership of Montreal businessman Pierre Karl Péladeau in March, star wide receiver Eugene Lewis (Edmonton) and then-starting quarterback Trevor Harris (Saskatchewan) left in free agency, leaving monumental holes in the Als' offence.
Still, Maas' faith in the opportunity never wavered.
"There was no regret," Maas said on taking the job. "When Danny [Alouettes GM Danny Maciocia] first called and asked me about taking this job and said it's going to come with the possibility that… he said we could have new owners, we could have players who don't want to come back. I didn't hesitate then. I believe in Danny; I believe the vision he had for the organization."
Maas is in the midst of his second stint as a head coach. His first came with Edmonton, where he spent four seasons at the helm, going 39-33 in that time before being relieved of his duties in 2019.
"It was an experience, and you've kind of been there, done that. It makes it easier in my opinion," he said on how his time Edmonton prepared him for this opportunity in Montreal. "When the schedule comes out, you can kind of get your plans together, you can adjust better.
"I think all the experiences you go through as a coach, they all are life lessons, and they help you. And then you have a couple of years and you're not that guy and you're watching things unfold."
O'Shea, on the other hand, has been a steady voice of the Blue Bombers since being named the franchise's 30th head coach in 2013. Since then, O'Shea and the Bombers have gone on to capture back-to-back Grey Cups titles in 2019 and 2021, and now eye a third in four seasons.
Having been to the league's title game now four consecutive times, O'Shea admits that it is easier, specifically in terms of logistics, having played for the championship in Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field just two short years ago.
But still, the 53-year-old still treats it like his first one.
"Every year you have a new team," O'Shea said. "We do have a great core of vets that are returning, but we've got young guys, and this is their first experience. And as a coach, or even as veteran players, you just take 30 seconds to look at these young guys and it can bring you right back to that.”
"It's easier than people to think to treat this as 'The One.'"
Maas’ message for his team as they pursue their first Grey Cup title since 2010 is to stay in a routine but enjoy and be excited for the experience.
“The game will be a game,” Maas said. “Once it’s kicked off, it’s another football game for you guys. The work week will be like no other, and we want to embrace that.”