Stubler succeeds Clemons as Argos coach

Rich Stubler, the longtime Toronto Argonauts assistant coach and defensive co-ordinator, was promoted to coach Thursday for the first time in his 18 CFL seasons.

Rich Stubler has never been big on talking with the football media, saying "the head coach should be the spokesman" for the team.

Well, that responsibility fell into his lap Thursday when the Toronto Argonauts' longtime assistant coach anddefensive co-ordinator was named the successor to former bench boss Michael (Pinball) Clemons, now the team's chief executive officer.

"I'm very appreciative of the opportunity," said Stubler, a native of Glenwood Springs, Colo. "We want to find a way to get more Grey Cups to this city."

"It was interesting to see him sit down long enough for a press conference," Argos linebacker Mike O'Shea told reporter Doug Harrison.

"I think he knows what [being a head coach] entails and has accepted that. And I know he's a good enough coach and a good enough man to flourish in any new role."

Stubler, the architect of a dominating Argos defence that ranked first or second in 20 of the 25 Canadian Football League categories this past season, had long been touted as Clemons's replacement.

"There was no other decision," Clemons said. "This was the only decision for the success and progress of the Toronto Argonauts.

'Best man for the job'

"Present company included, he is the best man for the job."

In recent years, Stubler reportedly was pursued by several CFL teams seeking a coach, but didn't have any desire to leave Toronto because of his close relationship with Clemons.

"I don't think anybody could replace Pinball," Stubler told the Toronto Sunbefore the Argos' 19-9 loss to Winnipeg in the East Division final on Oct. 18. "The best you can do is try to emulate some of the things he brought to the team."

Stubler takes over a team that rebounded from a slow start in 2007 to finish first in the East with an 11-7 record.

Stubler began his CFL coaching careerin 1983in Hamilton, where he won the first of his four Grey Cup championships in 1986.

He joined Toronto in 1990 as defensive co-ordinator before accepting a position on the Edmonton Eskimos' coaching staff for five seasons (1991-95).

After leaving Canada for a two-year stint as defensive coach at the University of Oregon, Stubler returned to Edmonton for two seasons before helping the B.C. Lions winthe Grey Cup in 2000.

Leaving defence in good hands

From there, he made a name for himself running one of the stingiest defences in the Arena Football League for the Detroit Fury before rejoining the Argonauts as defensive co-ordinator in 2003.

"Coach Stubler deserves to be a [head] coach in the CFL," O'Shea said. "He's put us in a good spot, not only defensively but team-wise, for years, so I'm sure he's going to continue that."

Over the past five seasons, Toronto's defence has allowed a league-low 163 touchdowns in 90 regular season games.

Since Stubler took over, the Argos have named 19 defensive players to the CFL all-star team and 27 defensive players to the East Division squad.

O'Shea, who is eligible to become a free agent on Feb. 16, isn't so sure Stubler will keep his fingers out of the defence.

"He's going to have a lot more responsibility to ensure the whole organization thrives, but he's got a passion for defensive football, so I'm sure he's going to keep more than abreast of what's going on," O'Shea said.

The Argos have yet to name Stubler's replacement but O'Shea feels the logical choice would be defensive assistant Kavis Reed, who began his coachingcareer in 2001 working with the team's defensive backs.

With files from the Canadian Press