Tuesday, September 09, 2008

CFL: Send in the Don!

This [David Naylor, The Globe and Mail] is absolutely out of the blue. I hadn't even heard rumours that Toronto Argonauts head coach Rich Stubler was about to be fired, but that makes sense given their play this year, and it makes abundant sense if you can replace him with the CFL's all-time leader in wins, Don Matthews. The team has called a press conference for 11:15 this morning to announce the change, and everyone from the CBC to The Fan 590's Bob McCown to Sportsnet's Perry Lefko has picked it up: TSN still hasn't had anything on the air, though, as they're still focusing on yesterday's firing [Stephen Brunt, The Globe and Mail, a must-read as always] of Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Charlie Taafe.

It's pretty funny that both struggling Ontario franchises decide to get rid of their coaches within a day of each other. Perhaps this is just the usual Argos' plan to upstage the Ti-Cats? Seriously, though, Matthews certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, and has had notable struggles with the media in the past, as well as bizarrely resigning his last job with the Montreal Alouettes part of the way through the season. Most thought he was retired for good, but if he wants to come back, I'd think most teams would be willing to give him a shot: the man knows how to win, and how to win without the best players (a problem faced by both Toronto and Hamilton these days). He certainly can't make things any worse in Toronto, and just his hiring will reinvigorate the interest in the franchise from both fans and the media. In my mind, this is a pretty smart move by franchise president Pinball Clemons, and it makes much more sense than him stepping back to the sidelines himself, which was the preferred rumour for a long period.

The downsides of this move are mostly for fans of other CFL teams, including my beloved B.C. Lions, as playing Toronto just got a lot more intimidating. Also, Wally Buono's charge to pass Matthews on the all-time wins list (Matthews currently leads by 15, according to cfl.ca) may take a bit longer. Still, all things considered, it's great to see a legend like the Don return to the game. That should make it a very, very interesting stretch drive in the East, where Toronto is currently second(!) with a 4-6 record: at the moment, the bottom-of-the West Lions (5-5) would take the third playoff berth in the East via crossover and have a better record than the second-place team. I'm guessing a Matthews-coached Argonauts team is good for at least .500 though, especially in that division. It should be fun to watch.

(As an aside, this might cheer Neate up. This morning, he wrote, "What's worse: Supporting for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who tied the can to Charlie Taaffe on Monday, or supporting the only CFL team the Tabbies can beat, the other one in Southern Ontario?" Well, at the moment, it looks like there's a lot more hope for Toronto.)


  1. toronto is where old coaches/managers/general managers are re-born.

  2. Very true, but I think this one might have more life left than most. The ultimate recycling would be if Pat Quinn ever returns to the Leafs...

  3. Or Isiah Thomas to the Raptors!

  4. if Isiah ever comes back to the Raptors, I'm done with them. Isiah is a lunatic.

    and I still have respect and love for Pat Quinn. can't deny his record with the leafs. he was great.