Ex-Alouettes GM Jim Popp now the leading candidate for Toronto Argonauts post

By Dan Ralph

Former Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp is the leading candidate for the Toronto Argonauts’ vacant GM position.

A source said Wednesday that Popp remains in talks with the Argos but a deal wasn’t imminent.

Popp didn’t immediately respond to a message from The Canadian Press.

Popp was photographed Tuesday night sitting with Larry Tanenbaum during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-4 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets at the Air Canada Centre.

Tanenbaum is the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports And Entertainment, which owns the Leafs, but is also the Argos co-owner.

“We have no comment on any speculation regarding our search for a new general manager,” Argos spokesman Jamie Dykstra said.

Montreal fired Popp on Nov. 7 after missing the playoffs for a second straight year. He’d served as GM since the franchise’s return to the CFL in 1996 and departed with one year remaining on his contract.

Last month, Toronto fired GM Jim Barker and shortly afterwards, head coach Scott Milanovich resigned to become the Jacksonville Jaguars’ quarterbacks coach.

If Popp lands in Toronto, he could potentially bring in former Als coach Marc Trestman. Popp hired Trestman in Montreal in 2008 and over five seasons Trestman led the franchise to three Grey Cup appearances, winning in 2009-10.

The Alouettes finished atop the East Division four times during Trestman’s tenure. They sported a 59-31 regular-season record and 5-3 playoff mark over that span.

Trestman, 61, was 13-19 over two seasons as the Chicago Bears head coach before being fired in 2014. He became the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive co-ordinator Jan. 20, 2015 but was released Oct. 10, 2016.

Trestman remains under contract to Baltimore through the 2017 season.

Popp established himself as one of the CFL’s top GMs, leading Montreal to eight Grey Cup appearances, winning three. In 2011, he was named executive of the year by Sports Media Canada.

But the 52-year-old native of Elkin, N.C., proved ineffective as a head coach, posting a 22-36 regular-season record and 1-4 playoff mark in four separate stints on Montreal’s sidelines.

He was fired as coach last September with Montreal at 3-9. Interim coach Jacques Chapdelaine finished the season 4-2 and was named full-time coach in December by Kavis Reed, Popp’s successor as GM.

Popp wasn’t Toronto’s first choice. There were reports Jerry Angelo, the former Chicago Bears GM, was selected to succeed Barker but withdrew from consideration when Milanovich left.

However, the source said Angelo was never interviewed by Toronto.

A second source said the Argos were interested in long-time NFL executive Tim Ruskell, now a Tennessee Titans scout. Ruskell began his pro career as a Saskatchewan Roughriders scout (1983-85) and the source added he was set to bring Brendan Taman, the former Saskatchewan and Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM, to Toronto before withdrawing from consideration.

– CP

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17 Comments on Ex-Alouettes GM Jim Popp now the leading candidate for Toronto Argonauts post

  1. Rumours and hearsay and . . . “the leading candidate” yet a “deal isn’t imminent”. Should I just give up now?

  2. This would be a great choice for Argos especially if Trestman is coach.While Popp has a lot of work Trestman will get the most out of his players and make this team as good as it can be. Derick Dennis might have a garden of regret to harvest this fall

  3. Popp, with the right coach, could be a great choice

  4. The only criticism I have of Popp was his lack of foresight to have a proactive succession plan for Calvillo .He decided instead to ride his coat tails to the end

  5. Leading candidate? Must already be a done deal with Popp and Trestman in a package deal to Toronto. Otherwise, why would Tanenbaum and Popp be together in a high profile setting?

    They purposely put themselves in public to send a message to free agent players, available coaches, and the city of Toronto that the duo of Popp and Trestman is Coming Soon.

    • maybe they thought a hockey game in Toronto would be the perfect place for no one to recognize Popp

  6. Sounds like he’s their only option. To be a leading candidate there had to be other options of contention.

  7. Popp is a good GM just have to keep him away from coaching.

  8. A Trestman/Popp combination will give the Argos instant credibility and make it that much harder for Hamilton to advance in the East considering the Cats did absolutely nothing in free agency to improve their three main areas of weakness (protecting their QB, stopping the run, and having a consistent rush on the opposing QB).

    The Cat signings were simply designed to enhance season ticket sales and will ultimately do little to improve their record from their dismal 2016 performance. After all, another receiver does little if his QB is running for his life and another DB can’t provide good coverage without contact if his team isn’t putting an effective rush on the opposing QB.

  9. @Pussycats… you constantly make interesting comments… many if which I disagree but don’t bother to debate… but today I guess it’s time…

    Your comment “the Cats did absolutely nothing in FA….” was either made to illicit a rebuttal… or was just more negative vitriol or at worse an example of your lack of football knowledge…

    Many QB sacks, hurried throws, hits or harassment are a direct result of good DB coverage leaving the QB no option but to eat the ball… and all the Ticats managed to do in FA was to sign the top two DBs available and arguably two of the best at their position in the entire CFL…

    Also signing Xavier Fulton one of the best left tackles in the CFL along with releasing Dyakowski tells me KA has plans to make the OL better…

    So as you can see I am a little confused by your comments and wonder which of the categories it might fit into…

    Just saying

    Cheers… Snake

    • Well said.

    • Great to have you back Snake. Although its now rare that you comment (like me), what you write is always intelligent and has some actual football knowledge, minus the hate. I certainly agree with what you’re saying. To add to that – if a team needs to rely on free agency to build a team that usually means that the Canadian drafting and American scouting is god awful. The ideal through free agency is to strengthen some weak areas but continue to develop by internal means. In this salary cap world it seems like Austin and company are doing the right thing.

      • Well said! I agree with both you and Snake. And we also need to remember that some of those Ticats “free agents” who haven’t been re-signed were parachuted in late in the season to shore up a team that was decimated with injuries (e.g. Raymond, Chiles, Elliott Fulton). There are a number of players like Olsen and Butler who’ll be back and will improve the team.

        As for Popp being the leading candidate – they could have done that a couple of months ago if he and Trestman were their top picks – they were both available! Instead they’ve been chasing after NFL “names” who clearly aren’t interested and are left with trying to find anyone decent to fill the positions! Popp did a great job in Montreal until the past 3 years or so but seemed to lose his edge to some extent bringing in “names” who couldn’t adapt to the game or were past their prime. He could be an asset or a liability.

    • @Snake: I’ve always had respect for your input and continue to do so. Fulton and Davis were with the team last season (Fulton for only a portion of it). Both are very good players but neither was able to save the season. The FA additions and the return of several players that were injured should help to start the season but more injuries will inevitably occur … Football, after all, is a very physical game.

      As a fan, I’m hoping that the team will acquire more talent from NFL camp cuts, through recruiting/try-outs, trades, etc to shore up the weaknesses in the line-up that I’ve identified. If that doesn’t happen, expect more of the same in 2017 and a very poor start to the season (which the Cats are infamous for under Austin) especially this year considering all the early games played against the West (Recall that the Cats only beat Sask and Edm (coming from behind) in 2016. Yet, an East division that continues to look relatively weak may help the Cats in the 2nd half of the season.

      Still hoping for the best but I continue to be a realist rather than an optimist.

  10. Did Abdul Kenneth die or something ???

  11. George McGee // February 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm //

    “Trestman remains under contract to Baltimore through the 2017 season.” This tells me Trestman is not going to lose all of that US dollars Baltimore money to sign with Toronto. No way.

  12. Hey pusscats. I’m pretty sure the cats were in the top 3 of the league when it came to qb sacks. That tells me that there had to be some sort of consistency to the pass rush.

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