Jim Popp steps down as Alouettes head coach

The writing was on the wall for Jim Popp to be removed as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes, but the real surprise was that Jacques Chapdelaine was named to replace him.

The Canadian Football League club announced Monday that Popp would give up coaching duties to concentrate on his other job as general manager. Chapdelaine, the receivers coach and special advisor to the offensive co-ordintaor, took over as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

The move came after the Alouettes fell to 3-9 with a fourth straight loss in Hamilton on Friday. Afterwards, Popp was given the game ball, and 3DownNation.com reported that he had worked his last game.

Chapdelaine, a long-time CFL offensive co-ordinator, will coach his first game Oct. 2 at home against the Toronto Argonauts.

“This team has a lot of talent; we have six games left, and we are still in it,” Chapdelaine said in a statement. “When I was coaching in B.C. in 2011, we made a run like this and ended up winning the Grey Cup.

“That’s possible for this group of players.”

The 55-year-old native of Sherbrooke, Que. became the 22nd head coach in Alouettes history, but the first who is French-speaking.

By naming Chapdelaine, who joined the Alouettes in the off-season as advisor to offensive co-ordinator Anthony Calvillo, the team owners avoided choosing between two on staff who will be vying for the head coaching job _ defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe and special teams co-ordinator Kavis Reed.

Andrew Wetenhall, the club’s lead governor and son of owner Bob Wetenhall, said the search for a permanent head coach will begin in October and “each of our current co-ordinators, as well as Jacques, will be fully vetted as part of this interview process.”

“A head coaching change mid-season is challenging, but Jacques is the right man for the job. Both Jim Popp and (team president) Mark Weightman played vital roles in this decision process, which led to a unanimous selection, and we believe Jacques will catalyze an immediate and positive effect as we try to make the playoffs,” he added.

Bob Wetenhall said: “Jacques is an excellent football coach. He knows the Xs and Os as well as how to get the most out of his personnel. We have six games left this season and are only two games out of playoff contention. Jacques is the best person to lead an immediate turnaround as we try and make a playoff run. ”

Chapdelaine, a former CFL slotback, has been either an assistant coach or an offensive co-ordinatior for 13 years with Calgary, B.C., Edmonton and Saskatchewan, winning three Grey Cups. He coached the Laval University Rouge et Or to a Vanier Cup title in 1999 and was head coach at Simon Fraser University in 2014.

Popp has been general manager since the Alouettes’ rebirth in 1996 but has stepped in to coach four times when head coaches were either fired or fell ill. His overall regular season record is 22-36.

In 2013, he took over from the fired Dan Hawkins six games into the season and went 6-7. Two seasons later, he replaced Tom Higgins after eight games and went 3-7 as the Alouettes missed the playoffs.

He stayed on to start this season because the Alouettes wanted continuity on the coaching staff, but was unable to coax consistent wins out of a team that has struggled on offence.

The team has looked in disarray of late. Last week, newly named starting quarterback Rakeem Cato blew up at Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford during practice over what he said was a lack of respect from the veteran receivers. Popp’s decision to trade veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn was also publicly questioned by some players.

– CP



24 Comments on Jim Popp steps down as Alouettes head coach

  1. NOW will Popp realize he can’t coach at this level?!?

    (I’m not holding my breath, considering he’s already done this 3 times before.)

  2. Oh-oh!! Now watch “angry” Mtl. Anglophones demand why Randy Cunneyworth not even considered for gig?

    • Paul Bomber // September 19, 2016 at 4:17 pm //

      Thank goodness! Much better than the alternative if an Anglo was picked. THEN you’d see some real anger!!

      • You might see anger from people who never baught an Alouettes ticket and never will anyway, but you would see no anger from true Alouettes’ fans who buy tickets. It’s easy to get that there just aren’t so many guys.

        • Robin (from THE city) // September 24, 2016 at 10:30 am //


          Check the Als forum??

          You’ll see LOTS of anger there.

          In fact, there’s a thread titled “FIRE POPP.

  3. They should start looking for a new GM as well…

    • Harder to find. I can’t see anybody besides Sunderland, and I don’t think he will leave Ottawa for Montréal.

  4. The coach is not the problem….all the spoiled bratty receivers…Maybe next year….

    • Isn’t the GM part of the last HC’s dual hats the reason for who is there plus what depth?

      Wasn’t the last HC the one who was supposed to set the tone that his OC followed up on?

      It sounds like a bit of a pass is being given out.

  5. Turns out 3 down was right on! I was a bit worried for you guys when everyone in Mt. denied Popp was done. Good work guys!

    So Chappy is going to make a big difference I believe. For one thing he also speaks French so many of the local fans will be pleased. For another he’s actually a career coach and if there is no interference from Popp, I think he’s going to straighten out the discipline issues on the team. He won’t stand for the carter crap. My guess is he’ll do well and win the job for next season.

    • Most fans don’t want a HC because he speaks French. If he does, it’s a plus, but it’s not the first thing they want. They want a HC because he’s a good HC. Some French media (mostly perpetual Alouettes bashers) will like the move and give the Alouettes a break because of that, but in the end, only Ws count. Alouettes fans would have taken Trestman back anytime over Chapdelaine, French or no French.

      • Paul Bomber // September 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm //

        Makes me feel good to read your comment (as a general booster of the CFL). I can’t imagine any real fans would be upset to see Trestman come back. Bi-lingual is handy to deal with the media I’m sure, but most of your players are from the States or English Canada (most.. I know not all) … so English is the important thing here. Take that as French-Bashing if want, but if 95% of your players’ first language is English and 100% of your players can at least get by in English, there really isn’t much more that matters, is there?

      • I wonder what takes Thorpe out of the HC picture. I wonder what’s going to happen when his contract is up.

        It seemed at best, bad optics to name Reed a co-assistant HC. It looks worse with Chappy getting the interim HC job. At least if Thorpe had been given the interim job, there could be some truth to “a chance was given”.

        The turmoil might not be 100% dealt with as the Larks might be looking for a new DC in a relatively short time.

        • Giving Chapdelaine the interim makes sense. This way, you give him hold of the O without demoting Calvillo, and he can work with him like Trestman did with Milanovitch and Brady. The Alouettes don’t have a guy re«dy to take charge of the D or ST.

          Whether Thorpe goes or stays dépends widely on who will be hired as official HC at the end of the hiring process, and if Thorpe is willing to work with him or not if he’s not chosen and if this HC still wants Thorpe as DC. Thorpe has an autistic child, so changes aren’t too welcome in his personal life, but opportunities exist and can be seized when they show up.

          I think that if Thorpe goes, Reed can do a good job as DC, unless the new HC brings someone with him or can do the DC job himself (Steinauer).

  6. Won’t make a big difference since this season is in the trash already. Chappy won’t turn Cato into a Grey Cup winner in 6 games.

    But it will help on the O side of the ball. Calvillo isn’t an OC,a s he’s in his second year coaching. With Chappy over his shoulder, he may have the role Milanovitch had under Trestman. Chappy could be basically the unofficial OC, yet keep the real playcalling while Calvillo learns the tricks behind him. Chappy can be as an OC what Tracy Ham did for him as a QB.

    Other thing is that Chapdelaine isn’t complacent. Ducon Rarter won’t feel as free to take it easy as when it was Popp as HC. Popp the GM needed Ducon Rarter on the field badly. Chapdelaine won’t if he’s to poison the locker room. And I hope Stafford will be let go this week. He’s done nothing since he came back, so why waste a single second with him when there are young (and not so young) players who can help the team. Let him go, trade him to Toronto for Bourke or put Hoffman on the roster. No place for his lazy bones anymore. Or put Bamiro as LT and Graves as WR.

    Anyway, I hope Chapdelaine will be more like Buono as HC and make Ducon Rarter pay for any stupid things he does. Boy, I wonder if Ducon Rarter can afford that!

  7. Wait a minute, Kavis Reid categorically denied this turn of events this morning. Can’t be true… Or Kavis is full of….

    • Kavis said there hadn’t been any formal talks within the coaching staff and players TEAM about Popp stepping down. He wanted things to go on the right way and this is why he didn’t speak about the talks that went on with the owners, the President and Popp himself.

      Kavis isn’t full of anything but good.

      He’s a great guy who cares about people and does his best to get anyone better. It’s not the first time he goes up front for his team’s best interest and this shows how much a team guy he is. I admit, I’m blessed to have such a good friend.

  8. Karma, Karma, Karma!

  9. Just plain stupid comments from stupid people!!

  10. Robin (from THE city) // September 20, 2016 at 8:11 am //

    This situation will be no different than other years. The Wetenhalls will hire another head coach. Popp will find something wrong, fire the guy, then hire himself back as head coach…and the circus will begin again.

    The ONLY way to resolve this problem is to fire the owner and/or Popp.

  11. There is another way to resolve this problem: get a good QB and a good LT.

    • Robin (from THE city) // September 21, 2016 at 8:05 am //

      this team has had 10 unsuccessful attempts previously finding and developing a quarterback since Cavillo gave it up, including a Heisman winner and have yet to find one.

      What makes you think that after all that this can be done by this same group??

  12. As long as they don’t make Kavis Reed a head coach things may work out. Reed was a frigging disaster for Ed Mutton.

  13. I don’t get it. Jimmy Poop gets to fires Higgins but Jimmy gets to step down? Why can’t Jimmy Poop GM fire Jimmy Poop HC?

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