Alouettes trio garnering plenty of interest in both CFL, NFL
Alouettes COO unfazed by outside interest in football operations personnel
The head coach is in the running for two NFL jobs, the GM is also said to be a candidate for another post south of the border and the assistant general manager has twice spoken to a new CFL entry.
Just another typical off-season for the Montreal Alouettes and chief operating officer Mark Weightman.
Head coach Marc Trestman, who has led Montreal to two Grey Cup titles in five years, met Monday with the Chicago Bears about their coaching vacancy and was scheduled to huddle with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday. GM Jim Popp has been mentioned as a candidate for the vacant Carolina Panthers general manager's position while assistant GM Marcel Desjardins had a second interview Monday about the GM post with the Ottawa CFL expansion team slated to begin play in 2014.
"This year is really no different than any other year, it's not the first time there has been speculation of interest for some of our football people south of the border," Weightman said Tuesday. "Really, it's just been part of our day to day here over the last few years.
"I don't know if I'm a little bit blase by it because it's not the first time."
Trestman's name has been mentioned in NFL coaching circles pretty much since he arrived in Montreal in 2008, and with good reason. The 56-year-old Minnesota native's resume includes NCAA experience with both Miami and North Carolina State and he's spent time in the NFL as a quarterback coach, running back coach and offensive co-ordinator with Minnesota (twice), Tampa Bay, Cleveland, San Francisco, Detroit, Arizona, Oakland and Miami.
Last year, both Trestman and Popp interviewed for positions with the Indianapolis Colts.
Victim of success
If Trestman or Popp left, it would create a huge void for Montreal. But the prospect of Trestman, Popp and Desjardins all taking new jobs at the same time would deliver a crippling blow to the CFL team.
"First of all, it's all speculation at this point," Weightman said. "If something like that were to happen we'll address it at that time but we're not going to get worked up about it."
Popp, 48, has been Montreal's GM since the team relocated from Baltimore in 1996. Popp's CFL squads — he also was Baltimore's general manager in 1994-'95 — have made 10 Grey Cup appearances, winning four. In 2011, Popp was named executive of the year by Sports Media Canada
The native of Elkin, N.C., has earned a reputation in Canada of being a shrewd evaluator of football talent. He and Desjardins have also spent nine seasons together in Montreal, providing the franchise a very solid 1-2 front-office punch.
Desjardins, a native of Burlington, Ont., also has experience as a CFL general manager. He held that post in 2007 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before eventually returning to Montreal.
Weightman said the Alouettes are simply a victim of their own success.
"That's probably a good way of putting it, really," he said. "What would you rather have: A mediocre result every year and have nobody ever talk about wanting to have your coach go to the NFL or success and these rumours coming around each year?
"Personally, I'd rather be in the situation where we've had a decent amount of success and these rumours start up. It's part of the deal."
Trestman, Popp and Desjardins all have time remaining on their deals with Montreal, but Trestman and Popp reportedly have escape clauses in their contracts that would allow them take positions south of the border. Regardless, Weightman said the Alouettes rarely stand in the way of their employees assuming more significant positions with another organization.
An example of that, Weightman said, was former Alouettes offensive co-ordinator Scott Milanovich becoming Toronto's head coach in December 2011. The move paid off nicely for the Argonauts as Milanovich led them to a Grey Cup title as a rookie head coach.
"It's always been our club's approach over the years if ever an employee — be it a coach, assistant coach, GM or scout — be presented with an opportunity to significantly advance their career with another organization we've always been open to discussing it," he said. "That doesn't mean it's an automatic but the same would apply here."