New Riders’ RB coach Andre Bolduc bemoans ‘silver platter’ head coaches after being passed over for Alouettes’ top job

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel

Former Montreal Alouettes assistant coach Andre Bolduc served the organization faithfully under seven different head coaches, but he is refusing to stay under an eighth after being passed up for the top job this offseason.

The 51-year-old was one of five finalists interviewed for the Alouettes’ head coaching job but will reportedly jump to Saskatchewan in 2023 following the hiring of Jason Maas in Montreal. According to Bolduc, a change was necessary after seeing his path for professional advancement reach a standstill in his home province.

“I would say 80 percent of the population would have done the same,” he told Eric LeBlanc of RDS in a French language interview earlier this week. “I couldn’t sit in my small office and keep doing the same job. Waiting for what?”

Bolduc has been with the Alouettes since 2014, holding a variety of coaching titles. He previously served as assistant offensive coordinator, receivers coach, and special teams assistant coach, before spending the 2022 season as the team’s assistant head coach and running backs coach.

The native of Alma, Quebec felt he was ready to take over in Montreal and was among four internal candidates interviewed for the position. The gig was ultimately handed to Maas, the lone external interviewee, who failed upwards after being fired by the Roughriders as their offensive coordinator last season.

“It’s not bitterness, but disappointment, as a Quebecer, not to have had the chance to obtain this position,” Bolduc said of the decision. “I’ve seen so many other guys who got it on a silver platter and screwed up.”

The veteran coach’s tenure with the Als began under head coach Tom Higgins and has survived through the leadership of Jacques Chapdelaine, Kavis Reed, Mike Sherman and Khari Jones, as well as the interim stints by Jim Popp and Danny Maciocia. Maas boasts previous head coaching experience — a 39-33 stint with Edmonton — as did many of his predecessors, but some, including Bolduc, have bemoaned the CFL’s tendency to lean towards coaching retreads in the hiring process.

“Jason was a head coach for four seasons, I definitely don’t have that. But where else do you start?” he asked. “With nine years, including three seasons as assistant head coach, the experience is there. Nothing would have surprised me in this job as much in the offseason as the season. Someone will have to give me the chance one day to acquire that experience.”

In the meantime, he will be part of the solution in fixing the offence that Maas left behind him in Saskatchewan. Bolduc is slated to serve as running backs coach and run game coordinator under first-time CFL offensive coordinator Kelly Jeffrey and was coveted by the Riders to provide him with an experienced right-hand man.

“Kelly Jeffrey and (head coach) Craig Dickenson, they love the job I do. Dickenson even analyzed how I behave on the sidelines, they knew a lot about me,” Bolduc explained. “The ground attack in Montreal, we have been wreaking havoc for three, four years. It intrigues them to see our way of doing things.”

Maas was routinely criticized for abandoning the running game too early during his time with the Riders but inherits one of the league’s top rushing attacks in Montreal, led by former all-star William Stanback. Bolduc believes the continuity provided by offensive line coach Luc Brodeur-Jordain will be critical in keeping that going, so long as the organization is smart enough to retain him.

“In two years with me, we rubbed shoulders every day so I showed him how I did things. He helped and supported me with several crazy things that I wanted to try. It was always, ‘Yes, we’ll get there’. I had often been told no before,” Bolduc noted.

“He has a good background and he’s an important guy for the organization right now. I hope he will manage to get along with Danny (Maciocia).”