He’s a legend in Montreal and if he wants to keep it that way, Anthony Calvillo should leave the Alouettes. Not only for his own good, but for the organization as a whole.
Give new coach some space
The Al’s are in desperate need of hitting the reset button. Three straight playoff misses and the oldest roster in the league—not to mention by far and away the worst product—have provided plenty of evidence to suggest the Alouettes need to tear this rusted old barn down to its studs if they are to have a shot at renovating a fixer-upper to any condition worthy of selling to its customers in Montreal.
This is a franchise at its lowest point on-field since the team returned to Montreal some twenty-one seasons ago. General Manager Kavis Reed is enraging his fan base with evasive answers about how the team is to move forward while he navigates the sticky politics that is answering to an absentee boss (team governor/owner’s son Andrew Wetenhall lives in New York, not Montreal) and a season ticket base which has supported the Alouettes all these years and craves nothing more than a reason to get excited about its football team.
If the General Manager cannot get separation from a dysfunctional upper management, then the head coach should at least be afforded that opportunity if he is to produce any kind of turnaround. Leaving Anthony Calvillo installed as the quarterbacks coach would do just the opposite.
A.C. is a legend with his own ideas and philosophies and will not be told how to help the offence by a head coach who has no authority over him.
Learn from History
The situation brings up a striking comparison to another hall of fame quarterback who followed his career by coaching with the very team he became a legend with. Ron Lancaster ended his brilliant playing days with the Saskatchewan Roughriders by running his own offence and then immediately assuming the head coaching duties upon his retirement following the 1978 season.
A very popular decision seemed like a sound move at the time. The little general had stickhandled the Roughies through its golden age of the 1960’s and early 70’s and could surely sprinkle some of that glory into a brand about to enter the 1980’s. Wrong! It failed. And failed miserably.
Without any real transition time from being a legendary player to becoming a coach, Lancaster and his Roughriders struggled, limping to back-to-back 2-14 seasons in both 1979 and 1980. By that point the team had missed the playoffs for four straight seasons. Ronnie wasn’t used to this kind of losing and neither were the farmers in Saskatchewan. It was a torturous exercise for all involved.
So much so, that Ronnie and his family would pack their belongings and leave the prairies for southern Ontario to work for the CBC. The Lancasters had called Regina home for 18 years. It was a painful uprooting no doubt but looking back, one that would go on to pay serious dividends in the long run.
Preserve Your Legacy
Like Calvillo in Montreal today, the struggles of his team threatened the iconic status of Ron Lancaster in Regina some 37 years ago. By leaving the re-build project to more experienced hands on the prairies, he not only enabled the Riders to put together a turn-around season in 1981—the green Riders went 9-7 and new sideline boss Joe Faragalli won coach of the year—but it also allowed the Lancasters to enjoy some time away from the grind and Ronnie got to promote his legendary status as a TV analyst.
He learned from watching games in the booth for the next decade too. So much so, it catapulted him into tremendous coaching success with the Edmonton Eskimos in a 7-year run which included a home playoff game in all seven seasons and a Grey Cup ring in 1993. Hugh Campbell still cherishes that championship as one of his favorite as he helped his old teammate atone for his earlier coaching struggles.
It’s a lesson for Anthony Calvillo to learn from. He doesn’t need to wither away in the dysfunctional era that is becoming the Montreal Alouettes under Andrew Wetenhall. If he wants to coach quarterbacks bad enough, surely some other team or college will gladly take him in.
Heck, TSN just gave one retired quarterback (Henry Burris) a job, who’s to say they wouldn’t hire Calvillo?
Time for Alouettes to Move On
If you live in the past and don’t change with the times, the times will change you. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers who kept hiring ex-legends like Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish to run that franchise into the ground through it’s decade of disaster.
The Alouettes need new ideas and a new direction. And that direction should not include Anthony Calvillo.
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