Argonauts go green

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

At first glance, the only thing that makes any sense about the Argos bringing back Don Matthews is that Friday is Retro Night in Toronto.

Friday the Argos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in addition to wearing old uniforms, maybe figured to add to the promotion by bringing back an old coach or two. Maybe today the Bombers would announce Cal Murphy. Or Bud Grant.

But, no, that's not it.

Maybe it's that the Argos are caught up in a monkey-see, monkey-do deal. I mean Cliff Fletcher is back with the Maple Leafs and Cito Gaston with the Blue Jays.

When it comes to the Argos, Matthews is like Billy Martin used to be with the Yankees. Hired. Fired. Hired. Fired. Hired ...

NO LACK OF PEOPLE

It can't be a lack of people in the organization capable of stepping in to take over from Rich Stubler for the last eight games of the season. Pinball Clemons, Adam Rita, Steve Buratto and Greg Mohns have all been CFL head coaches and they know the team better than Matthews camped out in Oregon. Heck, even Leo Cahill is on the Argos payroll, listed with front-office staff as "goodwill ambassador" if you want to go the retro or Cliff Fossil route.

Whatever, on the Richter scale of sports page news, this made the firing by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of Charlie Taaffe and replacing him with Marcel Bellefeuille as interim coach the day before barely qualify as a tiny tremor. And that seems to have been the purpose.

There are all sorts of good reasons to fire a coach, the most obvious being that his team won't play for him anymore and word from inside is that Stubler not only lost half his team but half his own coaching staff. Another reason to let a coach go is when he doesn't want to be there, as apparently was the case with Charlie Taaffe at the end of last season, but the Tiger-Cats wouldn't let him out of his contract which is just inviting disaster.

But how about firing a coach in order to replace him with somebody guaranteed to put you in the headlines big time and keep you there for a couple of months? Is that a good reason? Is profile? Is perceived market positioning?

Is having football fans talking about your team instead of the NFL Buffalo Bills who will play a regular-season game in your town in each of the next five years? The hiring of Matthews is about getting a massive media hit and avoiding the "ah, the hell with the Argos, let's follow the Bills" syndrome.

There's every evidence that's why the Argos dug up 69-year-old Matthews to replace Stubler yesterday. Remember, there are six teams who could have hired the high-maintenance Matthews recently and didn't even give him a second of thought.

If you're scoring, since Danny Maciocia became the first Edmonton Eskimos' head coach to miss the playoffs in 34 years and kept his job for the good reason that it wasn't his fault and in the interests of common sense and stability, there have been nine head coaches replaced in the CFL. Only Maciocia, Wally Buono and Doug Berry are still in the jobs they had at the end of the 2006 season. And Berry might be gone by this time next week.

If the idea is for Matthews to come in and start making changes - and he told the press conference that changes could be coming - good luck with that. He can't make many moves. Toronto is overloaded with veterans. We're at the stage of the season where players with five-plus years in the league get full salaries for the rest of the season and four-year veterans have the same status if they play this weekend.

HEALTH PROBLEMS

At his age, Matthews can't be considered long term. His departures from Edmonton and Montreal both involve alleged health problems.

It's easy to understand why Matthews would take the job. He gets a quick couple hundred thousand bucks, takes over a team in second place and has a chance to have a different end to his career than he had in getting so embarrassingly ushered to the door with four games to go in 2006.

In fact, he's got a great shot at going to the Eastern Final - in Montreal - with a chance to knock the Als out of their own Grey Cup game and get into it himself. And wouldn't that be a story?

Having Matthews back definitely makes things interesting. It may even make some sense in Toronto. Only Toronto.


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