Time will tell if Argos' Milanovich was good hire | Football | CBC Sports

CFLTime will tell if Argos' Milanovich was good hire

Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2011 | 07:31 PM

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Argonauts new head coach Scott Milanovich (centre) shares a laugh with general manager Jim Barker (left) and president and CEO Bob Nicholson (right) during a press conference Thursday in Toronto. (Chris Young/Canadian Press) Argonauts new head coach Scott Milanovich (centre) shares a laugh with general manager Jim Barker (left) and president and CEO Bob Nicholson (right) during a press conference Thursday in Toronto. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

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I've never understood why the Toronto Argonauts dropped the slogan "Pull Together" from their logo about 25 years ago, because it so beautifully encapsulated what this, or any team, has to do to win on a regular basis.

I've never understood why the Toronto Argonauts dropped the slogan "Pull Together" from their logo about 25 years ago, because it so beautifully encapsulated what this, or any team, has to do to win on a regular basis.

Somebody didn't like the reference to the fact the club was owned for its first 83 seasons by the Argonaut Rowing club, we guess.

Shame, because if you strained your ears hard enough (and allowed a certain suspension of disbelief), you could just hear that call at the press conference on Thursday afternoon introducing Scott Milanovich as the 42nd head coach in the 139-year history of the Double Blue.

Sixth bench boss in six seasons, by the way, and yes, we are counting.

There on the dais were the three men (there have been so many) expected to turn around the Argonaut franchise and lead them to the land of milk and honey.

Milk, in this modern case, meaning a team that can play at or above .500 every year, and honey being one that can put the requisite 25,000 paying people in the Rogers Centre to break even and be considered respectable.

Ridiculous standard

Let's repeat from last week - this team is never going to draw 40,000 average a game again, and it's ridiculous to hold them to that standard when no one else in the CFL does that number either.

President Bob Nicholson spoke about how Jim Barker (15-21 in two seasons at the helm of the good ship) had come forward with the idea of dropping the coaching portfolio to concentrate on managing.

Wasn't pushed. Really.

He talked of how Barker had "changed the culture" in the room since taking over and had signed some good players (Chad Owens and Cory Boyd), and how he would now be just the GM and on like that.

After the formal proceedings, however, Nicholson had much more to say of interest, including that he's personally going to ensure Toronto's professional football team has a professional-looking practice facility.

They've looked at a number of sites, so far, and are chatting with U. of T. about staying where they are now at the Mississauga campus with a new building and new field. Wherever they go, the place will have decent office space, weight rooms, dressing rooms and meeting rooms.

It will be roomy, you see. What they have now would embarrass a Texas high school coach.

If Nicholson can pull that off, it'll be as important as any other move the franchise can make because players all talk to each other and word will get around quickly.

Roster needs rebuilding

Barker was up next, talking about moving on to work on the roster. That's a Job 1 and Job 1A situation, requiring a complete rebuild of the awful receiving corps and finding a lot more Canadian content.

Milanovich was apparently Barker's guy all along, having quarterbacked for him in the old XFL and coached for him in Calgary, and it's coincidental that Barker got the job in Toronto because his former pivot turned it down two years ago.

That led to one of the interesting moments, where the new coach, who has been in Montreal for five seasons including four as offensive coordinator, was pretty clear that he didn't take the job when offered in 2009 because he didn't feel comfortable with the old ownership situation. 

Now, under Senator David Braley, it seems the perfect time.

When Milanovich was a little boy in Western Pennsylvania, birthplace of such quarterbacks as Joe Montana, Joe Namath, John Unitas, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Tom Clements and Ron Lancaster, he was sat on his father's knee and taught how to break down film.

Dad was a high school coach, you see, and in between reading his son The Roly Poly Puppy Meets Bubba Smith (old Mad Magazine joke), he would explain nuances.

So, it seemed ordained that after "I had won seven or eight Super Bowls for the Pittsburgh Steelers," coaching would come next.

The Vince Lombardi trophies never materialized, and after a career that took the QB through five employers with Ls in their names (CFL, NFL, NFLE, AFL and XFL) it was time to give up trying for TDs and concentrate on Xs and Os.

Coaching controversy

Milanovich will be allowed to hire his own coaches, and a controversy has already developed because John Hufnagel in Calgary is claiming the Argos have tried to poach their defensive coordinator, Chris Jones, away without asking permission.

Hufnagel held a huffy press conference on Wednesday to decry all and sundry, but sources say there's another side to this and it's not necessarily the way the Stamps tell it.

All the Argos will say is they have not spoken with Jones, did not ask for permission to speak with the Stamps about Jones, and would not even admit they are actually jonesing for Jones.

Milanovich said all the right things about being a John Wooden-type guy, meaning it won't be a dictatorship, everybody will work to "win the meeting, win the practice," etc., the buck stops here, and ultimately wins will take care of themselves.

He also wants to take the time to actually develop good quarterbacks, something the team hasn't done in 50 years.

The new coach would not bite, and this is important, on who the starting quarterback will be (wait ... didn't your boss just re-sign Steven Jyles for a lot of money?), or the other players or the assistants. That's for another day.

Imagine that. Proper planning before you admit anything.

What we know about Malinovich is, having trained under Als' coach Marc Trestman, he's going to be prepared, detail oriented and have high standards for himself and his players.

This could be yet another Double Blue disaster, and heaven knows there have been a lot of them, but right now it seems Bob, Jim and ol' Scott (who, of course, hunts and fishes) are, well, pulling together.

Time will tell (and we'll give them time) if it's towards sunlit open seas of possibility, or straight for the rocks.

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