Trestman proving he's well-suited for CFL

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Wearing a suit and tie that somewhat overshadowed the more casual attire of John Hufnagel, Marc Trestman was asked at yesterday's coaches' press conference what their garb said about their approaches.

"What it says is I don't listen to my wife," jumped in Hufnagel, the Calgary Stampeders head coach who opted for the t-shirt/jacket combo.

"What it says is I listen to my wife," added Trestman.

"That's the only difference. This is the only suit I own and I'm wearing it for the second time."

Both armed with decades of top-notch coaching experience, the two men guiding squads into Sunday's Grey Cup entered their first season as CFL head coaches this year under radically different circumstances.

Hufnagel was welcomed with open arms due to his success as an offensive wiz with Calgary in the '90s and his experience with high profile studs in the NFL.

Trestman, on the other hand, was met in Montreal with plenty of skepticism as he arrived with no CFL experience whatsoever.

However, as the Alouettes quickly found out, the man credited by former Oakland Raiders star Rich Gannon for elevating him to MVP status in 2002 has been so successful because he listens to everyone. Including his wife.

"The most important thing you have to know about coach Trestman is that when he came in here, he didn't have an ego," said Alouettes veteran o-lineman Bryan Chiu.

"He let us know he didn't know everything and didn't have all the answers, but he was learning and willing to listen to the veterans and immediately we respected him."

A backup quarterback in college behind Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, Trestman went on to study law at the University of Miami, where he later tutored future NFL star Bernie Kosar. From there, he went on to help shape offences with nine different NFL clubs before GM Jim Popp gave him his shot with the Als.

"It comes from learning from my mistakes," Trestman of his success. "Winning goes much deeper than X's and O's. The process of getting to know the people and what they are all about and building a locker-room with the right kind of guys (is key)."

Dubbed an "offensive genius" by quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who just had his best season in a Hall of Fame career, Trestman implemented a radically different system that sparked signs in every player's locker this week stressing "Everything Matters."

Everything including his instructions for the team to line up single-file along the sideline for the national anthem before every game.

"At first, I kind of laughed at that. But like he said, it's a sign of respect," said Chiu, admittedly among the skeptics when word of Trestman's hiring got out.

"Even Americans that are up here might not understand it, but that national anthem signifies that Canada is giving them an opportunity to work up here. And to appreciate and respect it, and I respect that so much about him."


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