The Toronto Argonauts introduced new head coach Corey Chamblin on Monday with Chamblin, general manager Jim Popp and team president Bill Manning meeting with the media. Here are nine takeaways from that discussion:
1. The new football operations cap was a factor in hiring Chamblin.
“The tricky part we had in this situation was that we had coaches that were still under contract, it’s not like Corey comes in and it’s a clean house he can structure the coaches contracts exactly how he wants to,” Popp said. “Corey was probably the perfect choice because several of the coaches that are under contract, he had a lot to do with bringing them here. It made the process a little easier. He’s very comfortable moving forward with where we are with our cap.”
2. The Argos interviewed six people for the job, though they say Chamblin was the first choice.
“We interviewed six individuals for the head job. We reached out first to see if he was interested, which he was, he showed real interest. We went through the process to talk to everyone to find out if what was in our mind in the beginning was the right choice. As we went through the process, it became more clear exactly what we were looking for, what we were wanting to do and how to best achieve that,” Popp said. “At the end of the process, you usually find one person you want that to be and Cory was that person. And then we had to make it all work, we had to come to an agreement. We spent several days talking through the process. At the end of the day it was very clear we had found the right person for this job.”
3. Chamblin will be the defensive coordinator and is on the hunt for an offensive coordinator.
“I don’t think there’s any offensive coaches on the staff right now so it’s a blank slate. When I look across the league, there’s several guys who can come in and fill that role,” Chamblin said. “I won’t make a decision quickly, it may happen before Christmas it may not. There’s a lot of people who are reaching out. There’s a philosophy we’ll have, we want to make sure we are explosive on game day,”
5. Chamblin’s approach to players will be markedly different from that of his predecessor Marc Trestman, who was known as a disciplinary. Sort of.
“At the end of the day, there’s a group of men in the room and they all have personalities and that’s who we are. But we also have to make sure that our personalities don’t affect the team goals. I want the guys to be themselves, just not all of themselves at one time,” Chamblin said. “There is some individuality and there are sometimes when you colour outside the lines but it will be within understanding why we’re doing what we’re doing. This is not just an individual sport, it’s a team sport.”
6. Popp will handle personnel, though Chamblin will have at least some say.
“Jim and I, we’ve had conversations about that. There’s no doubt that in terms of personnel, I’m a hands-on coach. But it just depends whether it’s one hand or two hands,” Chamblin said. Jim is a phenomenal talent evaluator, that’s something I don’t have to worry about. It’s not so much about me picking the talent, I won’t do that, it’s about us sitting down on a day-to-day basis, saying this is the best roster we can put out there on game day. That’s the way we see this working,” Chamblin said.
“Working together with the head coach, you always collaborate. It’s been that way the last two years here and with every team I’ve ever worked for. The bottom line is to try and let the head coach play with the people he wants to play with every week,” Popp said.
6. Chamblin learned some things from his time in Saskatchewan, where he won a Grey Cup in 2013.
“We had an extreme high there and we had an extreme low there. When I took that job, I had five years coaching experience to my name. There were some lessons learned that helped me get that success early but going through that process, I can tell you it’s about sustained success. What I learned was how to do it multiple times and how to keep my head above water the whole time,”
7. Chamblin says he understands the challenges the franchise faces in Toronto and that he’s willing to be involved in all aspects of the turnaround.
“Everything starts with winning but everything has to mesh, the business side of this game directly affects football and the football directly affects the business side. It can’t just be ‘we’re football’ it’s an organization and we have to win all day every day,” Chamblin said. “I’ll definitely do what’s needed to put the product on the field, secondly to make sure the players understand that we need to be in the community. We have to be able to draw a crowd.”
8. Popp thinks there are a number of solid head coaches in waiting around the league.
“There’s a lot of great candidates in this league to be a head coach. There are people who have really grown, that are doing well with other organizations and when the time comes they are going to be great head coaches in this league,” Popp said. “Sometimes, there aren’t a lot of choices right now, in the CFL, there are a lot of great choices.”
9. Manning says paid tickets were up by almost 2,000 per game last season.
“Our tickets were up 1,900 paid tickets this year, it was one real ray of light from this past season. I think with our organization having a full year under its belt with the Argos, I think we’re going to see more improvement,” Manning said. “I don’t see a reason why we can’t be playing in front of 18,000 or 20,000 people a game and have a winning football team. That’s the commitment our organization has but it starts with the right attitude and performance on the field. It’s really tough to sell a team when you’re at the bottom of the standings.”