‘I take issue with that’: Fired Alouettes HC Khari Jones pushes back on ‘unfair’ claims about lack of discipline

Photo Scott Grant / CFLPhotoArchive.com
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Former Montreal Alouettes head coach Khari Jones has taken his mid-season firing in stride, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with the justification for it.

General manager Danny Maciocia cut Jones loose following a 1-3 start to the 2022 season, citing pervasive discipline issues that were costing the team. In an interview with Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette this week, Jones pushed back against those claims.

“It bothers me that my name became synonymous (with that) and people started talking about the discipline,” he said. “I take issue with that. People start thinking of you as an undisciplined person or someone who promotes it. A lot of different things were involved. If we had guys who were crazy off the field, getting in trouble or there were a bunch of suspensions … We had high penalty totals on special teams, where he had young guys. Those same guys are now doing well.”

The Alouettes were the second most heavily penalized team in 2021, picking up 129 infractions for a league-worst 1,263 yards against. In the first four games of the 2022 season, Jones’ team committed 32 penalties for 275 yards, but the issue didn’t stop with his departure.

In the two games since Maciocia took over the sidelines himself, the team has been flagged 21 times for a whopping 301 yards. That would suggest that the problem extended far beyond the head coach.

“When you’re hanging your hat by saying he runs an undisciplined team, I take issue with that,” Jones insisted. “Did I just become an undisciplined coach? That became kind of the rallying point and that was a little unfair.”

Jones was hired as the offensive coordinator in Montreal in 2018 and earned a surprise promotion to head coach one week before the start of the 2019 season when the club parted ways with Mike Sherman.

He would go on to make consecutive playoff appearances and posted an 18-18 regular-season record at the helm, but managed to go just 2-7 in his last nine games.

A hold-over from the club’s previous regime, Jones was never Maciocia’s choice for head coach and many believed his firing was an inevitability entering the season. Already in possession of new employment as a football operations consultant with the East Division rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Jones expressed disappointment in the way his tenure in Montreal ended but pride in the results.

“I knew the situation I came into and accepted that. I knew this could happen,” he acknowledged.

“I feel good about the job I did and walk away feeling good about it. I don’t dwell or worry about the other stuff and I won’t talk badly about anybody I worked with. I’m OK with it.”