The Argonauts are in no hurry to name a head coach, but the process to replace Don Matthews has started.
"We've been making contact with a lot of people and will have a list of 15 to 20 candidates, and will take that down to three to five," Argos general manager Rita said.
"I'm looking for someone who fits best with our management group. Feb. 1 is my drop-dead date (to hire a coach)."
But Rita would like to a have a coach in place earlier. Once the list becomes manageable at approximately five names, owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski will become involved. There's a chance a coach could be named some time in December.
Among those who could make the short list are Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator George Cortez (though he might not be overly interested) and University of Buffalo assistant coach Danny Barrett.
Cortez is basking in the glow of winning the Grey Cup in Montreal on Sunday.
"Anybody with those kinds of credentials would interest us," Rita said when asked about Cortez.
There's almost a zero chance that Argos CEO Michael (Pinball) Clemons will return to the sideline for what would be a third coaching stint. Clemons "has told us many times" he does not want to do it again, Rita said.
The Argos missed the playoffs for the first time since 2001, enduring a difficult season under Rich Stubler and then Matthews, who went 0-8 and resigned the day after the Argos' last regular-season game on Oct. 30.
Cynamon and Sokolowski also are in the hunt for a replacement for former COO Brad Watters, who parted ways with the Argos earlier this month.
And though Cynamon had said several weeks ago that everyone in the organization would be evaluated, it appears Rita's assistant, Greg Mohns, and scouting co-ordinator Miles Gorrell are staying put. Along with football operations consultant Nick Volpe, Rita, Mohns and Gorrell have been compiling a list of candidates.
It's not clear, though, what will become of offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto and defensive co-ordinator Kavis Reed, considering that a new coach likely would want to bring in some staff members of his choosing. A source indicated that Cortez would not come to the Argos if Buratto keeps his job.