The Toronto Argonauts officially unveiled the 45th head coach — Ryan Dinwiddie — in franchise history.
Dinwiddie was flanked by Argos president Bill Manning and general manager Michael “Pinball” Clemons at BMO Field.
There was lots to takeaway from the introductory presser with Dinwiddie.
Moving to The Six
Clemons wanted a bench boss who was going to live in Toronto.
The previous regime, which included general manager Jim Popp and Corey Chamblin, had permanent residences in the United States, North Carolina and Arizona respectively.
Dinwiddie and his family will call Toronto home.
Comparisons to Bob O’Billovich were made.
O’Billovich was Clemons’ first head coach in 1989. The man affectionately known as Obie guided the Argos from the sidelines for eight straight seasons during his first stint with the double blue.
“Consistency in continuity. We decided that the best thing was to build and to build it with that young guy who is the next guy,” Clemons said.
“My first coach Bob O’Billovich was hired around the same age that Ryan is today. He was hired to build.”
Every year except for one Toronto made the playoffs from 1982-1989 under O’Billovich. Five of those seasons the Argos had a win percentage of .600 or better and three times reached the Grey Cup, winning the CFL championship in 1983.
Competing year in and year out is what Clemons and his regime are striving to accomplish.
Son of a coach
Dinwiddie’s dad Wayne was a football coach at Elk Grove High School in California.
“His dad said that he was so small that one time he actually got zipped up in the ball bag. This guy has football in his genes,” Clemons said.
Toronto’s GM interviewed multiple candidates for the head coach role while Chamblin was still employed by the Argos. Dinwiddie left a lasting impression with Clemons during the interview process.
“His obsession with excellence. His desire to prepare to win,” Clemons said. “He is a workaholic. He is in early, he’ll beat me there every day.”
Most important position on the field
The Argos have one quarterback under contract for the 2020 season.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson, James Franklin and Dakota Prukop are pending free agents while Michale O’Connor has two seasons left on his rookie pact. Dinwiddie wants at least two quality options at the position.
“Obviously what I did with Nick [Arbuckle] and obviously I think I took Bo [Levi Mitchell] to another level as well. But obviously people forget about what I did with Jonathan Crompton in 2014 and we went 9-3 to finish that season,” Dinwiddie said.
Arbuckle happens to be eligible to hit the open market. The 26-year-old posted a 4-3 win-loss record during his seven-game stint while Mitchell recovered from injury with the Calgary Stampeders in 2019. He passed for 2,103 yards (73 percent completion rate) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions and ran 27 times for 76 yards and four majors.
Dinwiddie will look at all possible options with regards to the Argos quarterback position. He has confidence the signal caller can be productive under his tutelage.
“I’ll develop him,” Dinwiddie said. “I have a track record for it.”
Especially with the culture change going on in hockey, more than ever in the new era of sports, coaches must treat the players properly and have the respect of the locker room.
“I’ve been in a spot in Montreal where it’s dysfunctional at times. We got to the Eastern Final the one year I was offensive coordinator there and we went through a lot,” Dinwiddie said.
“I’m a players’ coach, my players are going to love me, but I’m going to be very demanding and I’m going to expect a lot from them and that starts with me.”