Frank McCrystal announced Tuesday night he will retire from his position as head coach of the University of Regina Rams football club effective Dec. 31, 2014.
McCrystal assumed the reins of the Rams program in 1984 and coached the team during its final 15 seasons at the junior level. The team won seven national junior championships under McCrystal, who was twice voted the Canadian Junior Football Coach of the Year.
In 1999, McCrystal oversaw the transition of the team to collegiate play, as the Rams joined the University of Regina and began competition in the Canada West Conference of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (later renamed Canadian Interuniversity Sport). In only the team’s second year at the collegiate level, McCrystal guided the Rams to a Hardy Cup championship, a victory in the Atlantic Bowl, and a Vanier Cup appearance.
In 2007, after leading the Rams to a 6–2 regular season record and an appearance in the Hardy Cup, McCrystal received the Frank Tindall Trophy as CIS Coach of the Year. He was also named 2007 Canada West Coach of the Year.
“It has been a pleasure to work with so many great young kids during my tenure as head coach of the Rams,” McCrystal said. “I will look back at my time with this organization with great pride for what we accomplished and fond memories of the people I worked so closely with over the last three decades.”
McCrystal has coached a number of players during his time that have moved up to the professional ranks, including four players now playing in the National Football League. Akiem Hicks, who starred for the Rams under McCrystal in 2010 and 2011, became just the second Canada West player to be drafted directly into the NFL after being selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Jon Ryan, drafted in 2004 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, later moved to the NFL and won a Super Bowl as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Stefan Charles is currently a member of the Buffalo Bills, while long snapper Jorgen Hus is with the St. Louis Rams.
McCrystal has also helped produce a number of standout football players for the CFL, including current Saskatchewan Roughriders Chris Getzlaf, Brendon LaBatte, and Neal Hughes and Calgary Stampeders starting centre Brett Jones. The list of former Rams that played in the CFL also includes Jason Clermont, who was a standout receiver for the BC Lions and the Roughriders.
“The University of Regina has been fortunate to have such a talented football coach in Frank McCrystal,” said Dick White, athletics director for the University of Regina. “Frank’s dedication to his players and commitment to football is evident in the winning tradition that he helped build with this team over the last three decades.
(Courtesy Braden Konschuh U of R Athletics)