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.

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