A “change of the guards” in CFL coaches

by Staff Writer – Jason Langvee

The 2012-2013 CFL season marks the 100th appearance of the Grey cup. It should be noted however, that fans should not expect a repeat of anything in recent history. This season represents a wide array of changes occurring in most organizations. Most notably however, is the hiring of new head coaches for 3 of the 8 CFL teams. The BC Lions, Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Toronto Argonauts have all decided that going forward; coaching changes were in need. The position of head coach in the CFL is a performance-based opportunity, and thus new coaches need to be especially ready for the 2012 season.

In BC, the reins have been handed from 2011-12 Grey Cup champion Wally Buono to his defensive coordinator and/or special teams’ coordinator of nearly a decade: Mike Benevides. Benevides looks to strengthen an already strong Lions squad in the 2012 season. He has added size to the defensive backfield and with advisement from his director of operations and former head coach, acquired a fourth quarterback that shows a lot of promise in Thomas Demarco.

Saskatchewan, Toronto and Hamilton all had a different task at hand. Instead of looking to build off of last year’s success, the coaching changes in the aforementioned organizations look to shake things up in hopes of earning a spot in the 100th Grey Cup.

Hamilton acquired George Cortez, previously of the Buffalo Bills to take on the head coach position. Cortez has had a long history of offensive prowess, being involved with both the CFL and NFL since 1979. Cortez brings extensive knowledge in offensive as well as quarterback-specific strategies. Along with the acquisition of Henry Burris in the off-season, Hamilton looks to add some offensive power to the 2012 season.

Toronto has gone a very similar route as Hamilton in assigning the head coaching position to Scott Milanovich. Having played as quarterback in the NFL, XFL and CFL, Milanovich comes to Toronto with offensive insights former coach Jim Barker believes will take the Argos to the championship hosted in their hometown.

The final addition to CFL coaches this season is realized in the assignment of Corey Chamblin as head coach of the Roughriders. The decision to make Chamblin coach came as a surprise to some as the 34 year-old possesses a somewhat different than most CFL head coaches. Having only a handful of years in the coaching game, Chamblin has established a strong reputation as a knowledgeable defensive coordinator. Chamblin is one of only 3 coaches in the CFL that has earned his stripes as a defensive specialist. However, in light of the disappointing 2011-2012 season, all members of Roughrider management felt that a shift in coaching styles was necessary.

In addition to the latest changes made, there has been a recent trend representing a “changing of the guard” in CFL coaches. Both Winnipeg and Edmonton took on new head coaches in the past 2 seasons. Indeed, only Montreal and Calgary have held the same head coaches for the past several seasons. In a teleconference Monday, former BC head coach Wally Buono indicated that fans of the CFL have a lot to be excited about. Athletic ability in players is increasing, the sources from which the CFL is recruiting its players are deepening, and new coaches are out to prove that their systems have taken all of these variables into account. All signs indicate that the 100th Grey Cup year may prove to be the most competitive season to date.

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