Barker named Argos GM

Argonauts head coach Jim Barker is now officially also the team's general manager. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI...

Argonauts head coach Jim Barker is now officially also the team's general manager. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:47 AM ET

TORONTO - If the Argonauts win the Grey Cup in the next couple of years, Jim Barker will be in the thick of the celebration.

If the Argos dont continue to turn it around after hitting .500 in 2010, Barker will take the arrows.

In a piece of news that even those who have just a passing interest in the Argos knew was coming, the Boatmen on Wednesday announced that Barker, the head coach, officially has become the teams general manager.

The success or failure of the Toronto Argonauts comes to me, Barker said. Thats the way you want it. I have felt that since I got here. You want the ultimate responsibility on the decisions that are made.

Barker was hired last February, but soon morphed into the de facto GM. Adam Rita, who had the position in name, will not have his contract renewed when it expires on Jan. 1.

Rita had been the GM for seven years and was with the club for eight.

Id like to thank Argonauts fans, players and the organization, Rita, who scouted during much of the past season, said in a statement. The past eight years have been a good run and Im looking forward to the next step in my career.

Barker didnt hesitate when he was asked what was on tops on his to-do list. The Argos have 10 players who could become free agents on Feb. 16, and the group includes four non-imports defensive tackle Adriano Belli, running back Bryan Crawford, offensive lineman Jeff Keeping and receiver Chad Rempel. The six imports in the group are offensive tackle Shannon Boatman, receiver Jeremaine Copeland, defensive end Ronald Flemons, defensive tackle Kevin Huntley, defensive lineman Eric Taylor and defensive back Lin-J Shell.

Flemons, Huntley, Taylor and Shell were integral parts of the defence in the league that gave up the fewest points in the league, while Crawford had a CFL-best 26 special teams tackles and Copeland was a contributor on offence. Belli would have been a bigger factor on the defensive line had he not been hurt for much of the year.

Barker wants all of them back and reiterated what he told the Toronto Sun last week, that he does not plan to be overly active with other teams free agents.

We are going to do everything in our power to re-sign all of these guys, Barker said. They are important to what we are doing. All 10 have been tendered offers, and now it is just a question of negotiation. The No. 1 thing is to keep the players we have and get them signed.

Quarterback Cleo Lemon, meanwhile, is slated to have surgery in the next few weeks on a torn ligament in his throwing hand.

With Barker now the GM, director of player personnel Mike Hagen will assume a broader role. Barker plans to hire former UBC head coach Ted Goveia, who had been a volunteer coach with the Argos this past season, as the director of Canadian scouting. Barker does not anticipate making changes to his coaching staff.

For Argos president Bob Nicholson, part of the allure in seeing Barker handle both the head coaching and general manager duties was the 54-year-olds ability to delegate roles. And Nicholson was thrilled that Barker, in just one season after having little time to hire a staff, was able to right a leaking Argos ship that had just seven wins in the previous two seasons.

Barker becomes the first person to be Argos coach and GM since Michael Clemons in 2003.

It was a natural progression for us, to streamline so we had one guy (doing both jobs), Nicholson said. His experience showed through last year and he was able to delegate. You cant do everything, and Jim knows both sides of the ledger.


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