Redblacks hire Noel Thorpe as defensive coordinator

The Redblacks have named Noel Thorpe as their new defensive coordinator.

Thorpe was fired by Montreal in September. He will begin his 15th CFL campaign with the Redblacks in 2018 after spending five seasons with the Alouettes as their defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

He tried to leave Montreal after the 2015 season to join the Edmonton Eskimos but then-commissioner Jeffery Orridge blocked the move, saying Thorpe was still under contract with the Alouettes. That deal ran through this season.

“We are thrilled to add Noel to our coach staff,” said Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell. “He has a proven track record of building first-rate defences in the CFL. We are always looking to add first-rate coaches and players to strengthen our team and Noel fits the bill.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to join the Redblacks staff,” said Thorpe. “This is a first class organization with great leadership and a commitment to excellence. Having worked with both Marcel and Rick in the past made this an ideal situation and I am looking forward to being a part of RNation.”

That’s a much different way than former Montreal and current Riders defensive back Jovon Johnson described Thorpe.

“For whatever reason, Thorpe didn’t want me. That’s what it all boiled down to,” Johnson, who has two interceptions — one returned for a touchdown — along with two fumble returns and 36 defensive tackles, told Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette.

While Johnson called Thorpe a “hell of a coach,” he was one of several players who had issues with the departed assistant head coach.

“Quite frankly, hes a guy who’s a control freak. He’s an egotistical maniac.”

The Vancouver native broke into the CFL with the Alouettes in 2002 as a special teams Coordinator after spending five years with UBC Thunderbirds – helping them to a Vanier Cup in 1997.

In his first season in Montreal, Thorpe and company helped deliver the first Grey Cup Championship to Montreal since 1977 and would return to the Grey Cup with the Als in both 2006 and 2007. During his first tenure in Montreal, Thorpe served as the special teams Coordinator (2002, 2007) and defensive backs coach (2003-2006).

Thorpe moved to Edmonton in 2008 spending three seasons with the Eskimos as their special teams coordinator/defensive backs coach (2008-2010) and in addition to serving as their assistant head coach (2009-2010).

He would return to CIS Football in 2011 working with Danny Maciocia at the University of Montreal for two seasons, before returning to the Alouettes in 2013. He was also the head coach of the gold-medal winning Team Canada Squad that defeated Team USA at the IFAF U19 World Championship in 2012 in Austin, TX.

The former Als defensive backs coach would return in 2013, as their defensive coordinator. In 2014, Thorpe was promoted to assistant head coach in addition to his defensive coordinator role – positions he held until this past September.

The Redblacks also confirmed that Mark Nelson will remain with the team.

“Mark is an outstanding coach and he will continue to be a valuable member of our defensive coaching staff moving forward,” added Campbell.


29 Comments on Redblacks hire Noel Thorpe as defensive coordinator

  1. Lancaster/Reed // December 4, 2017 at 2:23 pm //

    Looks like the blue bombers were too slow to make a decision.

    • No, the Bombers decided long ago they don’t need cancers on the club.

      • Lancaster/Reed // December 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm //

        If you say so. Who is your realistic choice to replace Richie Hall? Or does Hall stay?

        • I’m with you Lancaster. Rumours had it they wanted Reilly, took Willy as consolation prize, wanted Jones, got O’Shea, now this.

          • Galloping Again into 2018 // December 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm //

            Actually. Dave Dickensen was offered the HC job in Winnipeg..

          • DiehardFan // December 5, 2017 at 12:33 am //

            Completely wrong, never a whisper of Jones to Winnipeg, don’t know where you got that one from…plus we parlayed Willy into a sizeable little package from
            Toronto so I’d say that worked out. Just because the fans wanted Thorpe does not mean the team did. I agree we need a new DC but I’m not losing sleep over this as there are plenty of fish in the sea. From what I understand too Thorpe needs specific types players for his schemes and it could not have been a fit for either side, also doesn’t mean they didn’t talk with him or offer him the job as SO many are assuming happened. That’s the difference between college and he pros. In the pros you build your system around the players you have, in college you recruit players that fit your systems

      • 3rd and 1 // December 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm //

        David I wouldn’t call Noel Thorp a Cancer. 1st of all he is one hell of a Defensive Coordinstor. He’s top 3 in the CFL and quite frankly I would put him at #1. There is no doubt that he has been called and ego maniac by players under him and coaches around him. The other term used is a super control freak. So let me ask you this… what really good DC isn’t a control freak? DC’s have to have total control. It’s not just part of the job. It’s mandated, they have to control the whole defence with schemes and make the players buy in 100% in order to be a great defence. Tell me; out of all of the greatest DC’s that you know of. Name one of them that wasn’t a control freak or had a bit of an issue with ego. If you do name one. I guarantee you that he wasn’t a great DC.
        Noel started coaching in 2002. Keep in mind Noel has been working in an unstable environment in Montreal the last 5 years. That’s exactly 1/3rd of Noel’s coaching career. The other 10 years saw 3 of them in Edmonton. 2008,09 and 2010. So Noel can and will be a loyal coach to a franchise that treats him fairly. The Bimbers should have been all over this. There is no doubt in my mind that OShea and Thorpe would have worked well together. Noel has been an Assistant head coach in Montreal and Edmonton. So his experience and leadership would have helped tremendously.
        Richie Hall is a nice guy. Nice guys don’t have the control needed today to be an awesome DC. Hall is a decent DC and Has shown signs of greatness when they get him the type of players that fit his defence. Where as Noel can take the players dealt to him and make them great.
        The last thing I want to mention is this. If OShea felt a coach or a player would vastly improve the Bombers. Even though they carried with them rumours of bad behaviour or locker room disfunction. Mike is still going to bring them in and make his own call. He’s not going to go on the feelings of the fans or the crap some of the media have printed. No different than Chris Jones and Duron Carter. He brought in Carter and it’s been a home run. Wally wanted Carter and the EE were also wanting Duron. So Mike OShea isnt going to be any different. He is going to bring people in and make his own call.
        Instead Hugh Campbell told his son Rick Campbell to get his ass in gear and sign the best DC in the league. That move alone should have the RB’s fighting for top spit in the East for 2018. As long as they stay healthy and competitive at the QB position.

        • Has anyone else referred to Thorpe as being an egomaniac control freak? Because I get the sense from Jovon Johnson that he’s also not lacking in the ego department.

          And calling your coach a control freak is a little strange. It’s like complaining about your boss because he or she is too…bossy. He’s your coach. do what the hell he says. Makes me think that you want to freelance and he’s keeping you disciplined.

        • DiehardFan // December 5, 2017 at 12:39 am //

          You speak of Thorpes loyalty. Is that the same loyalty that forced the league to intervene 2 or 3 years ago when he decided to just leave his contract in Montreal for a similar job in Edmonton?

        • Marc Lebut // December 5, 2017 at 9:54 am //


          I’ll give you another coach who’s known to be a control freak (although probably not egomaniac): Marc Trestman.

          When I see what those guys brought to their teams, it’s hard to say they are to blame for thats.

  2. Argos Rule // December 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm //

    This instantly improves the redblacks. Thorpe is a smart DC.

  3. Great hire by the RBs.

    Curious though what Nelson’s role will be. If he’s to remain a “valuable member of our defensive coaching staff” as Campbell says, how can mean anything but a demotion for him? Or will he become an assistant head coach with responsibility for a specific defensive unit?

    • I’m guessing linebackers and some fort of assistant DC type of role. He coached LBs with Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton (among other roles…looked it up) and Ottawa let go their LB last week.

    • 3rd and 1 // December 4, 2017 at 4:27 pm //

      msd … Noel has great experience both as a great DC and as an Assiatant Head Coach. Honestly I was hoping Chris Jones would have hired Noel. Chris Jones is doing a fantastic job but Chris is wearing so many hats. He could really use the help. Having Chris Jones and Noel Thorpe running a defence together would be an incredibly scary duo for the rest of the league. But…. like every solid stud DC. There is no way that their Ego’s could ever work together. Kinda like having the strongest North and South Magnets in the same area They just couldn’t work together on the same project.

  4. BigRedMachine // December 4, 2017 at 2:43 pm //

    I like Thorpe but I always thought Mark Nelson was a pretty good DC as well. Good that they can put their egos behind them and work together….

    • Marc Lebut // December 5, 2017 at 9:57 am //

      They worked well together in Montréal, so I wouldn’t be worried. RedBlacks made a great move and improved instantly adding Thorpe.

  5. Galloping Again into 2018 // December 4, 2017 at 2:50 pm //

    We can read into this that Calgary is clear where they are going with DC. Either Claybrooks stays or we have someone in mind

    • Gallop. Yeah it really clarifies thing. Either Calgary will make a change or they won’t.

      • If Claybrooks leaves you may be “GALLUMPING again into 2018.

        • Galloping Again into 2018 // December 4, 2017 at 4:28 pm //

          Calgary has had had 5 DCs going back to Chris Jones. With each new hire our defense has gotten better!..That’s fact

      • 3rd and 1 // December 4, 2017 at 4:18 pm //

        Amicus…. ahahahaha good one.
        Clearity at its best!!!

      • Galloping Again into 2018 // December 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm //

        What I mean is Calgary clearly didn’t want Thorpe or we’d be having a press conference today to announce him

        • greenonions // December 4, 2017 at 11:00 pm //

          Calgary would hire Thorpe today before Claybrooks is out the door? Doesn’t say much for the best of the last 5 DC’s.

  6. Didn’t see that one coming. Interesting

  7. I see Nelson the now previous DC of the Redblacks going to Calgary if Claybrooks gets the Montreal HC job. A former Stamp player I think and Alberta native. Thorps defenses have either been boom or bust. As of late a lot of BUST!!

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