Stamps coach eyed by Argos

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

George Cortez could be the next guy in charge of righting a sinking ship.

A report surfaced yesterday out of Toronto the Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator heads the list of candidates to take over as head coach of the CFL Argonauts.

The Sportsnet.ca rumour citing sources Cortez is the frontrunner for the vacant post comes as the offensive guru is firmly focused on helping the Stampeders win the 2008 Grey Cup.

"Great for him," said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel after practice yesterday. "George is a very accomplished CFL football coach, so if that's the situation, I wish him the best."

The Argos are looking for a field general after finishing the '08 season with a paltry 4-14 record -- second-worst only to the 3-15 Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

During the campaign, they struggled under head coaches Rich Stubler and Don Matthews, the latter failing to win a game over the final eight tilts of the season. Matthews told the team last week he would not return for 2009. The Argonauts, who began the year 4-6 under rookie head coach Stubler, missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Meanwhile, Cortez is heading a Stamps offence that has been spectacular in helping the club to the league's best record at 13-5. Running back Joffrey Reynolds won the CFL's rushing title while Ken-Yon Rambo racked up the most yards for a receiver and quarterback Henry Burris was named the West Division's most valuable player.

"Any time you have success -- and we had the most wins of any team in the league this year -- your coaches are going to be looked at," said Stamps player personnel director Jim Barker. "And George Cortez has done a great job."

During the off-season, Cortez was among frontrunners for the head coaching gig with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but the longtime CFL assistant pulled out of the running after interviewing with GM Eric Tillman. The Stamps said Cortez, who never commented on his reason for withdrawing his name, wanted to work with Hufnagel.

"George will get a head coaching job, but it'll be the job George wants as much as anything," said Barker, who doesn't believe the report is a distraction to his Stamps on the eve of their biggest game of the campaign.

"George likes it here, and he's in a good situation here," Barker continued. "I don't think it's going to be just because they offer him something. If they happen to offer it to him, it doesn't mean he's necessarily going to go."

Among other candidates reportedly in the running for the Argos coaching post are former Roughriders head coach Danny Barrett, B.C. Lions defensive coordinator Mike Benevides and Riders longtime assistant Richie Hall.

"One of the things about coaching in this league is the longer you're in it, the more you investigate the situation," Barker said. "Because you can get yourself into those situations where you're one (year) and done or two (years) and done. You look at this year in Toronto -- Don Matthews is no dummy, and Rich Stubler is no dummy. Now why didn't it work for them? As a coach, you have to look at the situation.

"I know when I was younger, it was, 'If I can go be a head coach, I'll go be a head coach.' And I think with a guy like George, who's been around a bit, that's not the case. He's going to look at the situation. He's a sharp coach, and he'll be a head coach some day, but it'll be in a situation that he wants to be in."


Videos

Photos