The Toronto Argonauts won the Grey Cup with a former Montreal Alouettes coach calling the shots.
So they added another to their staff on Monday, hiring Marcus Brady as offensive co-ordinator.
The 33-year-old Brady served as offensive co-ordinator of the Alouettes last season, replacing Scott Milanovich, who left the Alouettes to become head coach of the Argonauts. Brady had previously spent three years as receivers coach in Montreal.
“The biggest reason (for the move) was another opportunity to work with Scott,” Brady said on a conference call. “We had a great relationship in Montreal, off the field as well.
“He was my mentor as I made the transition from player to coach. I learned a lot from him.”
Milanovich handled offensive co-ordinator duties as well as serving as a first time head coach for the Argonauts, who got hot late in a 9-9 regular season and won three straight playoff games to claim their first Grey Cup since 2004.
Having Brady on board will let Milanovich pay more attention to other areas of the game.
“I didn’t have as much of a presence in special teams or defence meetings, and I think I need to have a presence there,” Milanovich said. “It’s not like I’m ever going to overrule what Mike O’Shea’s doing on special teams or that I don’t have trust in Chris Jones and what he does defensively, but a head coach has to be able to oversee all these things.”
However, Milanovich plans to continue running the offence while easing Brady into his new role.
“He’s going to be able to take things off my plate relative to installation and scripting,” Milanovich said. “When I assumed the duties of offensive co-ordinator in addition to head coach I said it would be temporary.
“This is the first step toward that. I’m still going to be very involved. As the season beings, I plan to be the primary play caller. But at some point, I want to be able to pass that torch to Marcus.”
He tried to get Brady to follow him to Toronto a year ago, but the San Diego native elected to stay in Montreal under coach Marc Trestman.
Brady didn’t say what changed from one year to the next, but a day after his contract expired on Nov. 30 he called Milanovich to let him know he was available.
“Each year brings new circumstances. I’m excited to be part of the Argonauts now,” he said.
The burning question in Montreal is whether 40-year-old quarterback Anthony Calvillo will return for a 20th CFL season. He said when Montreal was eliminated by Toronto in the East Division final on Nov. 18 that he would make a decision within a couple of weeks.
He is expected to move into coaching when he retires, so Brady’s long-term prospects may be better in Toronto.
“He’s a real student of the game and will probably be a really good coach,” general manager Jim Popp said of Calvillo.
The Alouettes, a perennial contender for the past 17 years, have seen a stream of coaches bolt to other clubs in recent years. Their next offensive co-ordinator, as it was when defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe was hired last week, will be their third in as many years.
Popp does not see it as poaching.
“It’s a compliment when people want your coaches,” Popp said. “It only happens when you have success.
He said it would be up to Trestman to find a new co-ordinator.
Brady is a former quarterback who started his CFL career with the Argonauts in 2002 before being traded to Hamilton prior to the 2004 season. He signed as a free agent with Montreal in 2006 and joined the team’s coaching staff three years later.
“For some reason, I seem to be attracted to Hall of Fame quarterbacks,” Brady said. “In Toronto, I was behind Damon Allen.
“I went to Hamilton behind Danny McManus and then Montreal behind Calvillo. And now I’m here in Toronto about to coach Ricky Ray. That’s a good group of quarterbacks.”