Opinion: Montreal Alouettes’ hiring of Jason Maas is a step backwards

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

It turns out that when general manager Danny Maciocia said he wasn’t going to be the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes in 2023, he was true to his word.

That’s about the only good thing to come out of the news that the Als have hired Jason Maas as their new head coach. Just about everything else about the news stinks.

Football as a sport has struggled for generations when it comes to hiring head coaches the right way. Yes, like most industries, it comes down to who you know and Maciocia and Maas go way back.

If that was the only issue I had with this hire, I’d probably just roll my eyes and move on. However, considering all of the other circumstances surrounding this hire, there’s a lot more to hate.

If you want to talk solely about results, Maas went a few games over .500 as the head coach in Edmonton from 2016 to 2019 with a 39-33 record. It’s a solid record, but not one that screams, “Oh, wow — this guy needs to be a head coach again.”

His last job was a different story. Maas coordinated one of the worst offences in the CFL last season in Saskatchewan. The word “scapegoat” has been thrown around a lot in the wake of Maas being hired in Montreal and it’s not entirely inaccurate.

The retired CFL quarterback wasn’t solely to blame for the Riders’ challenges this past season, but a coordinator wears the results of his unit. Nothing about Saskatchewan’s offence in 2022 suggested it was being run by someone who was deserving of a promotion. He was fired for a reason.

Maas is in this job because Maciocia fired Khari Jones last season. One of the reasons Maciocia claimed he made the change was because of the team’s discipline issues. I’m not sure Maas is the guy to help get that issue under control.

None of this adds up. The Alouettes recently released a list of finalists for the job and, in hindsight, it seems like an attempt to make it look like the team was searching far and wide when in actuality, Maas was probably a lock for this job a long time ago. If Maas and Maciocia were related, this would be a clear case of nepotism.

All of this isn’t even the worst part.

The Alouettes did the thing that football is trying to prevent. They fired a rising Black coach and handed the job to a white coach whose recent track record suggests he doesn’t deserve the opportunity over other possible candidates.

If this was a real search, then perhaps the Alouettes should have promoted someone from within and added Maas as their offensive coordinator. That seems like a more reasonable way for Maciocia to get his guy.

A year ago, the Alouettes were the fun “it” team in the CFL. It’s impossible to say whether or not this was sustainable but they had a well-liked coach, a fun offence, and new ownership. It seemed like a recipe for re-engaging a city following a long playoff drought.

Now? It feels like they’re going backwards.

None of this is to say that Maas won’t be successful in Montreal. This hiring could certainly could work out. However, the process of how we got here stinks.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.