Remedy for TD-challenged Argos

Montreal Alouettes assistant coach Scott Milanovich (right of QB Anthony Calvillo) is expected to...

Montreal Alouettes assistant coach Scott Milanovich (right of QB Anthony Calvillo) is expected to be hired as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts within the next few days. (US PRESSWIRE)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

If the Toronto Argonauts do the expected in the next couple of days and introduce Scott Milanovich as their next head coach, they’ll be getting a guy readily accustomed to turning around offensively challenged teams.

He has done it on two sides of the world in fact.

The one success story most in the CFL are familiar with is the Montreal Alouettes.

In Milanovich’s first year in Montreal (2007) as quarterbacks coach, the offence was similar to what the Argos fans of 2011 experienced. The Alouettes finished that season ranked seventh out of eight teams in offence, averaging just 20.1 points a game. Coincidentally, Toronto’soffence was seventh out of eight teams in 2011 and averaged 22.1 points a game.

In 2008 in Montreal, with Milanovich moving up to assume the offensive coordinator duties, the Alouettes were the offensive class of the league.

Montreal scored more points and gained more yards than any other team. They averaged 32.4 points a game, just shy of two converted touchdowns more than a year earlier.

David Duggan wasn’t around these parts to see it, but it hardly surprised him. He had already seen first hand what Milanovich could do for a football team.

Duggan was in his first year as head coach of the Cologne Centurians of NFL Europe in 2006 and he needed an offensive coordinator. Having been a defensive coordinator the year before and seen what Milanovich’s Rhein team did to his own, Milanovich was the easy choice.

“When I was coaching against him he always did a good job against us schematically exploiting things we did so fortunately I was able to hire him for us the next season on my staff,” said Duggan, now assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the University of Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Duggan has always been a guy more comfortable focusing on defence and in Milanovich he knew he had a guy he could trust with his offence.

“When I was a defensive coordinator, I was fortunate to work for a guy named Peter Vaas who was an offensive guy and he gave me complete control of the defence,” Duggan recalled. “He never really even came into our room. He was an offensive guy who trusted me to run the defence.

“Only if he had an issue would he ask me about the defence and I treated Scott the exact same way. I trusted everything he was doing and he did a great job for me. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

As far as Duggan is concerned, Milanovich has been head coaching material since back in his NFL Europe days.

“Scott is a really high football IQ guy,” Duggan said. “He is very intelligent about his offensive philosophy. He understands the game and is really in tune with it. His Dad was a high school coach.

“Scott is just very smart with the X’s and O’s part, clock management part. You’re talking about all the qualities you would love to see in a coach. I mean, he has it all.”

Duggan only had Milanovich for one season — the separation from his family for four months a year was becoming too much of a burden (and the league folded a year later in any event) so Milanovich took his resume back to the CFL and wound up in Montreal under another offensive genius in Marc Trestman.

Milanovich has been silent since the Alouettes season ended prematurely with a loss to Hamilton in the Eastern semi-final, but in comments to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette a few years ago looking back on his career, the time in NFL Europe was obviously huge for him.

“It was a situation where there wasn’t a lot of pressure,” Milanovich told the newspaper in 2008. “It was the perfect place to get started and make mistakes without fans, media and the organization coming down on you.

“They were concerned with developing players, not who won the championship. That was the whole thing. It was a great experience for me. I got to hone my craft somewhere where I wasn’t under a great deal of scrutiny.”

Obviously those conditions won’t exist in Toronto when he is officially  named as the team’s next head coach. But Milanovich has had plenty of mentoring and learning in the ensuing years and at the age of 38 he’s more than ready to take that next step.

One other interesting comment from that 2008 interview may provide some insight into Milanovich’s first order of business once his new job is made official.

Milanovich, in discussing the job of turning Montreal’s offence around going into that 2008 season, mentioned the presence of Anthony Calvillo as the reason he was so confident he could turn things around quickly.

But it was the next line — “If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance” — that should make every Argos fan breathe easy knowing the guy calling the shots recognizes the importance of the position that has left fans in these parts wanting for years.

 


Videos

Photos