TORONTO - The Argos made a big push to fill the Rogers Centre for the 100th Grey Cup on Monday.
Tuesday or Wednesday they could see an even bigger push to right the franchise with the expected hiring of Scott Milanovich as the teamís new head coach.
The irony is a coaching change in Toronto could very well push Grey Cup sales much further than any promotional sales day the Argosí marketing department could envision.
Jim Barker, who carried dual titles of head coach and general manger would retain the GM portfolio if Milanovich, a guy Barker brought into the league when he was with Calgary in 2003, took over the sideline duties. Barker was not available for comment Monday and through the weekend was maintaining an undecided status on whether he was ready to relinquish either of his titles.
Coming off a 6-12 season there was always the chance team owner David Braley would insist upon Barker giving up one of the job titles.
TSN was reporting earlier on Monday that Milanovich had agreed verbally to a deal but the two sides had yet to come to a contractual agreement.
Milanovich would appear to be the perfect tonic for what primarily ails the Argos ó namely a punchless offence. Over the past three years he has overseen the most potent offence in the league and while you can argue he had Anthony Calvillo to carry it out, the identity of the Argos quarterback of 2012 remains very much up in the air.
This past season in Montreal, the Als didnít finish the way they wanted (with another Grey Cup) but they were the leading scoring team in the league and had more first downs than any other offence in the league.
Individually Milanovichís offence produced the leagueís most dangerous quarterback, tailback and receiver. Granted you donít get far without individual talent, but Milanovichís system has to receive some of the credit for Montrealís offensive dominance.
Milanovich entered the league in Calgary but it was in Montreal where he made his name. He joined the Alouettes in 2007 as quarterbacks coach and has been the teamís offensive coordinator over the past four years ó a stretch that included three trips to the Grey Cup championship game and two wins once there.
Reports this past weekend that Milanovich would join the good ship Argonaut as the teamís offensive coordinator were premature. For one thing, the Alouettes would not allow Milanovich to make a lateral move. In order to receive permission to interview Milanovich, the Alouettes required that any move he would make would be a promotion.
Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman, in an e-mail to the Montreal Gazette, confirmed an interview took place last week.
Milanovich is also up for consideration for the Saskatchewan Roughriders vacant head coaching position. Like the Argos, the ĎRiders have received permission to interview Milanovich who interviewed for the same job last off- season when the Green Riders opted to go with defensive whiz Greg Marshall.
The Argos made what turned out to be a half-hearted effort at recruiting Milanovich for the same job two years ago before they hired Barker.
Their offer at that time ó something in the $190,000 a year area ó was deemed too cheap and Milanovich remained in Montreal as the offensive coordinator for $40,000 less.
The Argos coaching carousel since Michael Clemons stepped down in 2007 has played a huge role in the Argosí inability to be consistent contenders.
Never has that ability been more important than this season when the Argos play host to the historical 100th Grey Cup.
Barker followed up a solid 9-9 season with a disappointing 6-12 mark in 2011. Milanovich, at 38, is still young enough that he would have plenty of growing years left with this team.
It would be a nice first step in the restoration of a once revered franchise that has fallen on some hard times.
MILANOVICH THE COACH
2003 Rhein Fire WFL QBs coach
2003 Calgary Stampeders CFL QBs coach
2004 Rhein Fire WFL QBs Coach
2005 Rhein Fire WFL Offensive coordinator
2006 Cologne Centurions WFL Offensive coordinator
2007 Montreal Alouettes CFL QBs coach
2008-present Montreal Alouettes CFL Offensive coordinator
MILANOVICH THE QUARTERBACK
1996-99 Tampa Bay Bucs (one game) NFL
2000 Berlin Thunder NFL Europe
2001 Los Angeles Xtreme XFL
2002 Tampa Bay Storm AFL
2003 Calgary Stampeders CFL