No Argo is safe

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Owens packs up his car as teammate Noel Prefontaine strolls by on Nov. 4,...

Toronto Argonauts' Chad Owens packs up his car as teammate Noel Prefontaine strolls by on Nov. 4, 2011. (Ernest Doroszuk, QMI Agency)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:06 PM ET

If it were as easy as one area of play or as simple as making one personnel move to right themselves then perhaps the Argos’ off-season makeover would be clear for all to see.

The facts remain that nothing is clear and virtually every aspect of the team’s structure, excluding ownership, is open to discussion and potential change.

With so many moving pieces at play, it rendered Friday’s season-ending gathering with the media near farcical, with nothing concrete emerging.

Other than Bryan Crawford announcing his retirement and Jason Pottinger revealing he’ll soon go under the knife, trying to separate fact from fiction, truth from rumour, was like trying to find a consistent go-to receiver who doesn’t drop a pass.

One by one, selected players huddled with reporters, the expected soft questions on a season gone awry that would end with two meaningless victories and the inevitable look ahead to what might be.

But in the Argos’ case, no one knows what might be.

And those who claim they do are clearly not in touch with reality.

When asked about the team’s priorities, head coach/GM Jim Barker admitted he “can’t talk about them.”

“Some of it is coaching, some of it personnel,” he said. “There’s a little bit of everything and that’s what my job is. It’s to pinpoint those things and make those changes that have to be made.”

The only problem is that Barker may not necessarily be in charge when the dust finally settles in Argoland.

Already there are growing whispers that Chris Rudge, David Braley’s point man to run next year’s historic 100th Grey Cup, will be more hands-on in the day-to-day business operation of the club.

If this scenario pans out, there’s no telling what role current president Bob Nicholson will assume.

When a team ends a season with a 6-12 record amid growing fan disinterest, anything is possible.

As many as 15 players will be eligible for free agency, some of whom have no business returning if Barker returns as head coach.

While Steven Jyles has the highest profile given his role as quarterback, even if a deal gets done there’s no assurance Jyles will be the signal caller when next season rolls around.

As long as Henry Burris serves as a backup in Calgary, the spectre of Smilin’ Hank surfacing in Toronto in a Grey Cup year cannot be dismissed.

In fact, the Burris-Argos link was discussed by some players following Thursday night’s season-ending win over Hamilton, according to sources.

Insiders suggest the Argos’ initial offer is in the $200,000 neighbourhood, a number that includes a predictable signing bonus.

Almost as predictable is how busy the Argos will be this off-season, only nothing will happen until the team first gets its house in order.

“I have no interest except getting this club to the Grey Cup,’’ Barker said. “And if that means it’s better with me as the coach, great.

“If that means it’s better with me as GM, great. If that means it’s better for me to do both, that’s what I’ll do.

“I promise the best interest of the Argonauts and not the best interest of Jim Barker will be at the heart of every decision that’s made.”

While it’s well-intended, what else could Barker possibly say when discussing an arrangement that can change at any time during the next few months.

Ultimately, he’s the one who assembled a coaching staff and a roster that never did get on the same page, for reasons that can’t be easily explained, and if explained no one is going to be brutally honest in their explanation.

What’s known is that the Argos went from a feel-good story last season to a story of many tales and untold truths.

Off-seasons usher in changes and new faces.

With these Argos, the changes may apply to anyone at any position at any time.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca

 


Videos

Photos