So the question, as always: what the hell is going on in Montreal?
Thursday morning, reports surfaced that B.C. defensive coordinator Mark Washington and Argonauts receivers’ coach Tommy Condell – the leading contenders for the vacant Alouettes’ head coaching – had been removed from contention. With Calgary Stampeders defensive coordinator DeVone Claybrooks having already dropped out (he was the leading contender from the get-go) the list of possibilities is getting mighty short.
And while it could be an off-the-board name like Kerwin Bell or Gary Crowton, here are two other possibilities.
The first is that general manager Kavis Reed will decide to keep the job, despite his insistence that he didn’t want it. The argument is easy enough: I couldn’t find a suitable candidate and am therefore forced to stay in the role. Reed was a head coach in Edmonton from 2011 to 2013 and served in the role on an interim basis for the Alouettes after firing Jacques Chapdelaine. The team went 0-7 under Reed.
But here’s a dark horse name: Marcel Bellefeuille.
The current B.C. Lions receivers’ coach makes sense on a number of fronts. He has head coaching experience, having led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for three seasons from 2009 to 2011. That too was a rebuild: he took over a team that won 17 games over the previous three seasons and, in conjunction with general manager Bob O’Billovich, led the Ticats to three straight playoff appearances, including the East Final in 2011.
He is also fully bilingual – no small thing in La Belle Province. Bellefeuille isn’t a Quebecer (he was born in Ottawa) but having a head coach able to do interviews in both official languages would be a boon to an organization that needs support from the Francophone constituency. It was a central reason they kept Chapdelaine last season and courted University of Montreal boss Danny Maciocia before hiring Reed. Bellefeuille was terrific with the media during his time in Hamilton.
Bellefeuille did some professional development with his year of paid vacation after being fired by the Ticats – who went 6-12 under George Cortez the following season – before a three-year stint as the offensive coordinator in Winnipeg. Then to the Lions, where he’s been for two seasons. He was not part of the group the team parted ways with last week, which included offensive coordinator Khari Jones. He hasn’t been a head coach in a while but he knows the CFL and has relationships across the league.
In short, Bellefeuille makes a lot of sense for Montreal. Which does not necessarily mean the Alouettes will do it.