Alouettes axe head coach Dan Hawkins

Montreal Alouettes rookie head coach Dan Hawkins was fired Thursday morning after leading the CFL team to a 2-3 start this season. General manager Jim Popp, who hired Hawkins in February, takes over as coach.

GM Jim Popp takes over; Berry to oversee offence

The Alouettes fired first-year head coach Dan Hawkins after he led the CFL team to a 2-3 start this season. Montreal halted a three-game losing skid last week, defeating Edmonton. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Dan Hawkins’s first head-coaching job in the Canadian Football League lasted five games.

Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp fired his February hire Thursday after Hawkins guided the team to a 2-3 start this season and will assume the position himself for the third time in 18 years.

"Jim is the person most responsible for the success we have had over all these years," Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall said in a statement.

Quick trigger-finger

A sputtering Montreal Alouettes offence probably was among the factors in the team firing head coach Don Hawkins on Thursday. But the first-year CFL bench boss doesn't hold the league record for fewest games into a single season before being let go. Here's a sample of the fastest firings:

  • 2 games: Jim Gilstrap, Ottawa (1996).
  • 3 games: Clem Crowe, B.C. (1958), Dave Skrien, B.C. (1967), Otis Douglas, Calgary (1960), Lou Agase, Toronto (1962) and Fred Glick, Ottawa (1988).
  • 4 games: Greg Marshall, Hamilton (2006)
  • 5 games: Dan Hawkins, Montreal (2013)

— Courtesy CFL

"I feel confident that he is the best person to coach our team at this time and I am very appreciative of him being willing to make this additional contribution to our franchise. He has the respect of our players as well as mine."

Popp said that offensive co-ordinator Mike Miller will be asked to stay on the coaching staff in a reduced capacity and that Doug Berry would now run the offence, although without the title of offensive co-ordinator.

In the 2001 season, Popp took over from Rod Rust and replaced Don Matthews during the 2006 campaign. He stayed in the job to coach Montreal to an 8-10 record in 2007.

Popp's CFL regular-season coaching record is 10-13, with a 1-3 mark in playoff games.

The team did not say if he would coach on an interim basis or when the search for a new head coach would begin, but offensive co-ordinator Doug Berry will oversee that unit going forward.

"I won't get into specifics, but there are some issues that we felt should be moving along quicker than they are," said Popp, who made the decision along with owner Bob Wetenhall. "We feel it's going very slow.

"We're a veteran team. We're looking for results now. Hopefully we can get ourselves back to the Alouette way."

Popp will have some time to plan as the Alouettes are off this week, with their next game scheduled for Aug. 8 against Toronto.

Hawkins, who took over after Marc Trestman left to coach the National Football League’s Chicago Bears in January, spent the previous two seasons as a college football analyst for ESPN but served as the head coach at Boise State and Colorado.

Mixed results

Hawkins sported a lowly 19-39 win-loss mark at Colorado but was an impressive 53-11 at Boise State and entered 2013 with an overall record of 112-61-1.

Montreal halted a three-game losing skid a week ago with a 32-27 victory over Edmonton on the strength of six Sean Whyte field goals and Brandon Whitaker's 162 rushing yards to move into second place in the East Division.

There had been speculation that the Alouettes may fire Hawkins or offensive co-ordinator Mike Miller if they lost, but the Alouettes responded with with their best offensive performance of the season.

However Montreal's offence, the team's strength under Trestman, looked disorganized and lifeless under Hawkins, who was coaching a professional team for the first time in his career.

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo is on pace to record 3,726 passing yards, which would mark his lowest total since 2007, one year before Trestman arrived. He also has a QB rating of 79.5 through five games this season, his lowest since his first campaign in Montreal in 1998.

"There's been some frustration across the board," Calvillo said. "We've had a certain standard here for a number of years and it's been very tough to swallow the direction our team was going in.

"But I'll continue to trust our owner and Jim Popp. They've decided to make a change. I'll trust in that and move forward."

Trestman compiled a 59-31-0 regular-season record over five years, won two Grey Cups and was named CFL coach of the year in 2009.

Popp raised eyebrows at that time as Trestman came to Montreal with no previous CFL coaching experience and had never been a head coach.

Hawkins took over a club that finished atop the East at 11-7 in 2012. But the Alouettes fell 27-20 to the eventual Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts in the division final.

The team did not say if Popp would coach on an interim basis or when the search for a new head coach would begin.

With files from The Canadian Press