Realty One

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


By: Arash Madani

Forget last season’s 5-13 record, and the abysmal attendance, throwing away the unique opportunity of making year one at outdoor, close-to-downtown BMO Field something to build on. 

Forget releasing three impact receivers in the first week of October, who instantly signed elsewhere. Forget pulling the trigger on the worst trade the CFL has seen since Ricky Ray was traded for a kicker and cap space and a partridge in a pear tree.

And forget that the franchise is now no longer in the ‘Big Four’ in the marketplace, its relevance – and attendance – a distant fifth in the city, after Toronto FC sold out games quicker than you could dial up Pizza Pizza.

Set all of that aside for a moment, because Tuesday was the moment it became clear just how lost the Argonauts decision makers are, with the timing of their latest move: firing their general manager.

You can build quite a case to part ways with the GM: that 5-13 stain, being fleeced by Winnipeg in the Drew Wily deal, poor free agent signings (Bourke, Joshua comes to mind), the rest. Matter of fact, in November I was told by someone with knowledge of the situation that Argos ownership – those CEO Michael Copeland reports to – had “lost faith” in Barker’s ability to run the operation.
November. A month after the team’s season was toast, for all intents and purposes.

This was the organization’s chance. While other teams were in the playoffs, the Argos could get a head start on 2017. Do their reviews, and due diligence and whatever other buzz words they wanted to pick, but to go find the next one. Head coach Scott Milanovich figured he was done, and let his staff know as much. 

But then November turned to December, and then the holidays, and the coaching carousel did its thing with movement league-wide. Montreal made its moves, and Hamilton had a shuffle, Winnipeg lost its offensive line coach and Toronto was standing pat. Barker remained, Milanovich was told nothing and by mid-January, as the rules of engagement go, the window to pluck assistant coaches from other teams became all but shut. 

The issue is not dismissing Barker. The issue is the timing. The issue is wasting almost four months of an elongated off-season – one that began with a barechested Kevin Elliott stumbling into the coaches train car on the way home from a drubbing in Montreal before Thanksgiving – and now searching for a new general manager, knowing full well that even if Barker’s successor doesn’t want to keep Milanovich around, he may have to out of necessity. 

At a time where movement among coaches is quite sensitive in the league office – remember Alouettes defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe was blocked from going to Edmonton last winter – the chances that teams will allow their own staffers to bolt in February becomes more and more unlikely. Firing Milanovich is easy. Hiring his replacement, the same. But filling out the staff with quality CFL assistants becomes near impossible.

There will be buzz of Jim Popp coming in as the next Argos GM, that he and Milanovich worked together in Montreal and can revive some of the Alouettes magic. Rick Pitino will tell you that Marc Trestman and Anthony Calvillo aren’t walking through that door, and nor will Popp to Toronto. Not in 2017 anyway. 

Firing Barker now shows just how unaware the Argos leadership is in running a football operation. Instead of having a significant head start on next season, they’re now far behind rest of the league. Another major loss, and this is before they even put a football on the tee.

(Arash covers the CFL for Sportsnet, and the SportsCage)


Anonymous said...

Arash Madani trashing the CFL! say it ain't so. Why does anyone who works for and support the CFL talk to this guy?
I agree the decision should have been made sooner. You'd think the Boobs at Rogers was running this team.

Anonymous said...

Are the argos suspending football operations?

Anonymous said...

The Argos make the dysfunctional Roughriders look like a well-oiled machine.


@mrt_man said...


Anonymous said...

May I ask a question? Aside from the Argos there are several teams in the CFL, along with the NHL, NCAA, and NFL which just do things differently and the Argonauts although they misfire have had a very rich tradition. Is there anything this guy likes about this league? Each time he's on SportsCage it's all negative and a criticism. He says Durant will not put the Als over well does he know who else the Als are bringing in? The East is wide open and if the Als stay healthy after Labor Day and get hot they have as good a chance as any. The Calgary Stampeders didn't get it done.

I truly believe with Madani there is an agenda at play. He worked in the CFL and it just didn't work out for him. He's on a rival network so why would he sing the CFL's praises, and he thinks he's big time as he covers events in the USA.

I just don't get this guy. He's entitled to his opinion but his is completely off the mark.

Anonymous said...

Argos are officially toast, 8 team league until Moncton or Halifax or Quebec City can get a stadium ready for CFL

Anonymous said...

As long as Arash sticks to the facts there is no problem running down CFL brass in the head office and on the teams. Its his prerogative. The CFL and its teams has lots of resources to ensure their spin on things gets covered.

Anonymous said...

Madani will get a big atta boy from the suits at Rogers. This is a Rogers agenda Madani is just a puppet.

Dick Rubnutz said...

Argos are falling apart faster than the Bombers new stadium

mister winnipeg said...

"Madani will get a big atta boy from the suits at Rogers. This is a Rogers agenda Madani is just a puppet."

Yep. Madani is a credible face to play the role of hit man. If there is any news with the remote possibility of being spun into something negative for the CFL, you can bet Madani will be there on the spot.

He'll be reminding us of the Pizza Pizza thing at least six times a year for the foreseeable future.