September 2016 – Alouettes Complete Coaching Restoration

I generally go to bed late and get up late…noonish. But something was percolating in the back of my mind all night…woke me up around 5AM. Jacques Chapdelaine promised he’d reveal how the Alouettes coaching structure would change under his rule. That meant we’d soon know what he’d do about Anthony Calvillo. Who will be calling the plays?

Sure enough, even at this early hour it was all over the news: Jacques Chapdelaine Takes Over Playcalling Duties From Anthony Calvillo.

Time to crow!!!

With the decision to take over play calling duties for the Alouettes, Chapdelaine has effectively ended a brutally awkward, and spectacularly unsuccessful chapter in this storied franchise’s history. May we ALL get down on our knees, the deeply religious, omni-theists, agnostics and atheists alike…and PRAY we’ve seen the last of Jim Popp as “coach”.

The insult to the LONG, unbroken CFL tradition of coaches passing their knowledge and wisdom down to successive generations…the casual thumbing of noses that was the ascension of Anthony Calvillo, from the relatively “peripheral” responsibilities of a receivers coach to arguably the second most important position on this football team…with NO consideration given to qualification OR experience…is an experiment that has FINALLY come to it’s inevitable and ignominious END.*  Hallelujah!

But as reports come in from Alouettes practise at Stade Hebert (where I’d doubtless be if it weren’t for this shoulder thing) and words like “structured” and “accountability” and “respect” are suddenly gaining a foothold, it’s worth pointing out one further “perk” of the Chapdelaine appointment.

Arguably, the Poppvillo era represented a fractured break from the “oral tradition” of passing knowledge through successive generations of CFL coaches on and “through” this team. If so, perhaps Jacques Chapdelaine represents a restoration of that noble tradition. After all, Chapdelaine’s first instinct is to ask himself what Wally Buono would do. Buono can arguably be said to have learned his trade, in part, in his years as a linebacker and punter for the Montreal Alouettes.

Pasquale “Wally” Buono played ten seasons with the Als in the 1970’s. Buono won 2 Grey Cups with the Alouettes under Head Coach Marv Levy, in 1974 and 1977. And while as so often happens, Levy operated as an NFL “clone” juxtaposing American football philosophies onto the Canadian game, THAT very lesson about the elasticity and trans-absorbative nature of the two cousin gridiron sports is a lesson I’m sure Buono has put to good use to this day.

It’s funny…I attended several of those Alouettes games at the Autostade as a child…must have seen Levy, Buono and the Alouettes on a number of occassions with my Dad.

The knowledge Buono accumulated under successive coaches, and then during his 23 year coaching career has in part been passed on to Chapdelaine…his offensive coordinator for several years and two different stints.

Only time will tell if the Chapdelaine appointment will work some late season magic on the field.

But after multiple, successive seasons of chaos and dysfunction…a return to order can ONLY be assisted by a restoration, even if only a PARTIAL restoration, of the Alouettes coaching tradition.

*On a conciliatory note, while AC himself admits he considered quitting altogether and going home, it MAY be time for him to consider the folly of accepting a plan that had him as offensive coordinator in the first few weeks into his coaching career, and then Head Coach a year after that. The very fact that he thought any such thing was plausible raises questions about his competence, knowledge, and quite frankly his intelligence. On second thought…NOT as conciliatory as I planned.  

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2 thoughts on “September 2016 – Alouettes Complete Coaching Restoration

  1. Not so fast. I always wanted to be a coach, and I look at AC’s decision as a no-brainer. You might look dumb but you can get lucky and stick around long enough to get over the harsh part of the learning curve. I read your comments on #downnation and checked your blog. You know football but enough hating!!! AC is prolly as dumb as Troy Aikman, for they ran similar timing offences, but that only works if your accurate. HOF because accuracy beats brains. Coaches or colour commentators, they need brains.

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  2. You know you make a good point. UP to a point.
    I’m sure Calvillo has no intellectual deficiency. Not at all.
    But as fans we have a right to expect our team to win. We have a right to expect our coaches to be capable of making that happen.

    Someone who’s been a fan for as long as I have MAY have his own perspective on the quality of coaching that brings the ULTIMATE when it comes to fan expectation…a Championship for your home team.
    I insist that it is only the RAREST of minds that can bring that about. It’s not by accident that Wally Buono has won over 250 regular season games and five Grey Cups. And it’s not a coincidence that Marc Trestman won two Cups in relatively short order for this team.

    Coaching is the province of the intellect, EVERY bit as much as football is propelled by emotion. Chapdelaine is arguably the most intelligent coach in this city since Trestman himself. If the Alouettes stick with him and start winning, THAT will be NO accident either. Just as Jim Popp’s horrendous coaching record is no accident OR that Calvillo has won only 6 games in the season and half since he became offensive-coordinator. His decision to take a position for which he was patently unqualified, ESPECIALLY considering his 2 decades of experience as a player, raises questions. Whether the questions are about mindless ambition, the capacity to make reasoned decisions, OR Calvillo’s intellectual prowess, those question persist to this day. And how can they help but colour one’s appraisal of his fitness for the job itself?

    As a fan I have every right to protest when my team’s success suddenly becomes less important than giving an ex-player a high paying job. Especially when that player’s qualifications… considering the over 100 year tradition of coaching in this league, a tradition Calvillo knew only peripherally as a player and barely at all as a coach…were immediately perceivable as “laughable, at best. I have every right to be embarrassed and therefore angry when CFL insiders and commentators REFUSED, at least on the major media outlets, to comment on the situation in any way. Whereas on radio broadcasts of CFL games throughout the league, ex-players and CFL journalists in the know made FREQUENT allusions to the dysfunction that has made MY team the joke of the league.

    The fact IS…I was certainly NOT the only person in the “peripheral media” to immediately condemn the ascension of Calvillo. That alone speaks to the folly of the endeavor from the start.

    Luck DEFINITELY has a role to play in the fortunes of a CFL coach. But a smart man makes his own luck. Calvillo has the work ethic, I’ll give him that. But if he was relying on luck to propel him towards success, I think I have every right to question his intellectual fitness to lead an attack, or a team…THEN and especially NOW…considering the results.

    Still who knows? AC, as he says, may take a step back, launch his comeback and eventually become a GREAT coach. Frankly I doubt it. But if it happens…mazeltov!

    But as a fan I have the right to say, “NOT at the expense of MY TEAM.”

    It’s not HATE. I just think that’s fair.

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