TORONTO - It’s not often that anyone connected with the Toronto Argonauts would even consider looking down the QEW for some advice.
The Hamilton Tiger-cats, at the other end of the QEW, are the guys they love to beat and love to hate. And looking to them for anything other than a guaranteed Labour Day sellout (well, maybe not this year) is sheer lunacy.
Allow us to make this one exception.
And technically this wasn’t advice given with the Argos in mind or even with the Argos part of the conversation.
It just fits what the Argos are going through right now.
The easy answer to a struggling team is to fire the coach. They do it in hockey. They do it in baseball, football.
With the Argos barely treading water at 2-9, the calls are starting for Jim Barker, who is not just head coach but also the general manager.
Team president Bob Nicholson is on record, as recently as Monday, saying he hasn’t considered a change of that magnitude.
Here’s hoping he maintains that attitude for a while.
This is by no means an attempt to save Barker’s job. Instead it’s a plea for a little stability. And this takes us back to the Ticats.
Earlier this year, and even now, Marcel Bellefeuille had been hearing some of the same whispers that Barker is hearing or ignoring. Bellefeuille, like Barker, received a pledge from the front office that his job was safe.
Often that is a precursor to a firing but we don’t believe that is the case in either of these situations.
Kevin Glenn, the Ticats quarterback who has been in the CFL for 11 years was asked around the time when Bellefeuille’s job was first whispered to be in some jeopardy, how important it was to maintain some continuity on a football team.
“The teams that stay consistent — and I’ve seen this over 11 years — are usually the teams that win and Montreal has always been that consistent team to where they kept their core together and they’ve won a lot,” Glenn said. “Here in Hamilton, we went through a span where there were three new coaches in three years and it’s tough when you go through that type of situation in professional sports. I don’t care how much talent you have.”
Glenn was talking primarily of the core players but obviously included the effect constant coaching changes can have on a team as well.
Barker is in his second year as the Argos head coach. Before him came Bart Andrus, who lasted a year. Before Andrus, first it was Rich Stubler and then Don Matthews for another go-round. They split the 2008 season.
For the last head coach with any length of service with the Argos, you have to go back to Michael (Pinball) Clemons who held the job from 2002-2007. He is also the last Argos coach to win a Grey Cup.
Glenn sees things getting better in Hamilton because there aren’t those knee-jerk reactions to tough times. They don’t feel the need to fire the head coach or change personnel on a weekly basis.
There is something to be said for growing together. Here’s hoping the Argos realize that.
Barker tied his wagon to Cleo Lemon and we all know how that turned out. If that’s a firing offence, then those calling for his head will use that.
But a carousel of head coaches will not make a football program better. If anything, it is the easy response to a public that is disappointed in results and wants to feel like something is being done.
If the Argos decide Barker is not the right fit for them, so be it. But if they do it just to appease the disgruntled fan base then they’re doing themselves a disservice.
Barker got this team to 9-9 a year ago with Lemon.
Now he’s got seven more games with Steven Jyles who made a huge improvement from the B.C. game to the Saskatchewan game.
It says here the Argos are better served seeing how far Jyles progresses under the current staff rather than starting the coaching carousel.