Jack B. Bedell for BCLionsDen.ca
As a life-long Alouettes fan, I have to admit it hurts a little to admit it, but I’m very impressed with the decisions made by the Toronto Argonauts this off-season.
From the moment the organization decided earlier this year to put an end to the downward spiral of bad decisions the club has made since 2006 by firing Bart Andrus and his overmatched staff of NFL fringe coaches, the Argos have put together quite a run of solid, logical moves that will surely pay off between the lines.
The hiring of Jim Barker as head coach may not have been the sexy, ticket-selling move many Argos fans have come to expect, but Barker brings a kind of hands-on organization the club hasn’t seen in years.
If you take a quick look at Barker’s coaching resume, you’ll find a coach capable of putting together quality sides in no time flat. He did it in the XFL, helping forge a championship team with only a couple of weeks of preparation. He did it in his stint with the Als, marshalling a highly-strung group of receivers toward a Grey Cup.
You can’t affect such quick change and success without clarity of vision and astute personnel decisions. Haven’t seen much of that in Argoland the last couple of years, have we?
With the backing of one of the CFL’s best owners in David Braley, Barker has already gotten the reclamation project underway in Toronto. From the naming of an experienced, eclectic coaching staff that includes former Argos greats Orlondo Steinauer and Mike O’Shea, to the release of Kerry Joseph and the rest of the Argos’ QBs, to the acquisition of Jeremaine Copeland to lead by example in a locker room sorely bereft of leaders last season, the decisions made by the Argonauts have been wholehearted. No more half measures and temporary patches for the Boatmen.
Of course, no change occurs without a degree of pain. I’m sure it’s difficult for Argos fans to see quality players and quality men like Joseph, Andre Talbot, and Zeke Moreno hit the road, but like the old cliché says, “No progress without change.”
Time will tell quickly if all this change brings the Argos back into contention in the East. A lot of it will depend on how quickly new pivots Gibran Hamdan and Dalton Bell adjust to life in the Big Smoke. More will depend upon how quickly the team adapts to Barker’s new culture of accountability and effort.