If you think of the Montreal Alouettes’ coaching search as a game of musical chairs, the number of seats is dwindling but the last song hasn’t yet ended.
Reports bubbled to the surface on Thursday the Als have settled on former Boise State and University of Colorado head man Dan Hawkins to replace Marc Trestman, who left to coach the Chicago Bears last month, but general-manager Jim Popp flatly denied a final decision has been made.
“We haven’t signed a contract with anybody,” Popp said in an interview. “We haven’t got anything done with Dan Hawkins or anyone else as of this moment, he remains a candidate.”
Hawkins has been a college football analyst for ESPN since 2010, the year he was fired as the Buffaloes’ head after compiling a 19-39 record in four-plus seasons; he may well end up getting the nod, but no decision is expected before next week at the earliest.
The fact a story landed in the Montreal Gazette indicating Hawkins is the guy may displease Popp and Alouettes’ owner Robert Wetenhall.
But perhaps not, the Als’ quest for a new head man has been remarkable, if not unique, in its transparency.
Popp has been open about the interview process and even sent his list of candidates out on Twitter – the field includes Hawkins, former NFL quarterback and one-time Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, former Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike Miller, Atlanta Falcons receivers coach Terry Robiskie, former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Rob Bratkowski and one-time Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert.
All share a common trait: long experience with the passing game and with quarterbacks.
Each of the candidates was asked to put together a prospective staff of assistants, it’s clear that another of Popp’s criteria will be the ability to deliver on that front.
“We’re not just talking about a head coach here, there’s a lot of things at work,” he said.
Of the remaining candidates, only Zorn has direct CFL experience – the lefty briefly played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the 1980s, he also coached Als quarterback Anthony Calvillo at Utah State, which can’t hurt his chances.
Miller, who at 42 is the youngest candidate, was mooted in the Gazette report as the offensive coordinator under Hawkins; either way, it appears likely he’ll join the Als in some capacity for this coming season.