It’s time for CFL teams to reward those who have paid their dues.
The Montreal Alouettes are on the hunt for a new general manager. The team has been without one since Kavis Reed was fired in mid-July with Joe Mack currently serving as the interim replacement.
One of the names floating around as a potential hire is Eric Tillman.
The 62-year-old certainly has an appropriate résumé for the position. With seven separate stints as the general manager of six CFL teams, it’s obvious that Tillman has enough experience to take on the role.
There are plenty of reasons not to hire Eric Tillman — the man’s made some curious trades (see: Ray, Ricky) and hasn’t managed a team with a winning record since 2011.
But there’s one big reason why I think the Alouettes would be foolish to hire Tillman as the club’s next general manager.
Hiring Tillman would be just another retread in a small league that fears change. There are a large number of deserving candidates who should be given the opportunity to interview for Montreal’s general manager position and win the job.
Let’s start with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
No one carries the title of general manager in the Ticats’ unorthodox front office structure, but there’s no doubting the effectiveness of the personnel men involved. The club went 15-3 this season despite losing quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to a season-ending ACL tear and recently trounced the Edmonton Eskimos in the East Final.
Drew Allemang and Shawn Burke are at the top of the food chain in Hamilton’s football operations department, each holding the title of senior director of personnel & co-manager of football operations. Both men are relatively young and have more than a decade of personnel experience running one of the CFL’s top teams.
Allemang is in charge of Hamilton’s Canadian draft and has assembled arguably the best group of national talent in the CFL. He has also been around football his entire life as the son of long-time CFL offensive lineman Marv Allemang.
Burke negotiates most of Hamilton’s contracts and takes the lead on the club’s strategy in free agency. He’s also Canadian, born and raised in the nearby city of Guelph.
Now onto the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Bombers have had an impressive year, finishing 11-7 despite losing Matt Nichols to a season-ending shoulder injury. The team has also recorded double-digit wins in each of the past four seasons and recently advanced to its first Grey Cup since 2011.
Ted Goveia and Danny McManus have been the assistant general managers in Winnipeg for the past six seasons, joining the team in December of 2013 when Kyle Walters was made the permanent GM. Both are lifelong football men with a tremendous amount of experience in multiple areas.
Goveia spent 15 years coaching at the USports level before transitioning to a personnel role with the Toronto Argonauts in 2010. He has helped Winnipeg draft well over the past six years and has extensive experience negotiating player contracts.
McManus is a Hall of Fame player who spent five seasons scouting for Hamilton prior to joining the Blue Bombers. He has extensive connections throughout the United States and has been credited with uncovering a number of talented CFL players.
All four of these men deserve strong consideration from any team looking for a general manager. They’ve each paid their dues and deserve the opportunity to run their own team.
But the list doesn’t stop here.
Brendan Mahoney has spent the past 13 seasons working his way up the ranks with the Calgary Stampeders. Cole Hufnagel and Kyle Carson are a pair of young up-and-comers in the organization who have done great work as well.
How about Neil McEvoy and Geroy Simon in Vancouver? The pair were passed over when the Lions opted to hire Ed Hervey back in November of 2017, but remain highly-respected in CFL circles and have a lot of experience.
The Redblacks were a disaster this season, but director of player personnel Jean-Marc Edmé won a Grey Cup with the team in 2016 after starting his career with the Montreal Alouettes during its dynasty. There’s also assistant general manager Jeremy Snyder who’s been with the Redblacks since December of 2013, helping build the roster from scratch.
Jeremy O’Day would have been a shrewd hire out of Saskatchewan had Montreal hired him when they had the chance. The Riders went 13-5 with their rookie GM in 2019 and finished first in the West Division — something Chris Jones never accomplished during his three seasons with the team.
There are a large number of veteran personnel staff who deserve serious consideration for any CFL GM job.
Here’s hoping the Montreal Alouettes realize it before hiring yet another retread.