There was a sign in the hallway that a “Mindful Parenting” gathering would be taking place in the same meeting room the Toronto Argonauts had booked at the University of Toronto campus here Monday.
It seemed appropriate for a CFL outfit that would like to believe it is undergoing a rebirth of sorts, amid a flurry of coaching changes after a dismal 6-12 season.
Last week, the Argonauts named former Montreal Alouettes offensive co-ordinator Scott Milanovich as their new head coach, thereby freeing former sideline boss Jim Barker to concentrate entirely on the duties of general manager heading into 2012.
On Monday, the Argos continued to mine coaching talent from other CFL clubs, with the announcement Chris Jones and Jonathan Himebauch had agreed to join on as assistants.
Jones was the Calgary Stampeders defensive co-ordinator, and will do the same job with the Argos. Himebauch will be Toronto offensive co-ordinator, moving up from his former post as the Alouettes offensive line coach.
Milanovich said surrounding himself with assistants who had CFL pedigree was at the top of his list when he went looking to fill his two top assistant positions.
“It’s such a unique game,” he said. “I mean, it’s not to say you can’t come in if you don’t have CFL experience.”
But Milanovich is more comfortable going with people who already understand the complexities of the three-down game – even if it means ruffling the feathers of CFL competitors through aggressive corporate raiding.
“I can’t answer that,” the 38-year-old said evenly. “You’ll have to ask them.”
The Stampeders have already let their feelings be known. A complaint to the CFL that the Argos didn’t not follow proper protocol when it came to hiring Jones away landed Toronto a $5,000 fine last week for tampering.
The Argos insist they did nothing wrong.
“I know what happened,” said Milanovich, who counts Jones as a good friend. “I mean, you talk to a friend, you talk to a friend. I have a ton of respect for the Calgary Stampeders and [coach and GM]John Hufnagel. But it wasn’t anything more than that.”
Jones has also been given the title of assistant GM, which basically means he will have a little more say in personnel decisions during the off-season.
“[But]once the season starts, I’m a defensive co-ordinator,” he stressed.
Both of the new assistants are highly-regarded.
Jones has been patrolling CFL sidelines for a decade, and his teams have never missed the playoffs. His defences have earned a reputation for being tough, stingy and aggressive.
Himebauch won back-to-back Grey Cups as the Als offensive line coach, whose primary responsibility was to protect the league’s premier quarterback, Anthony Calvillo.
“These guys are two guys that are at the top of their craft,” Milanovich said. “They’re young, both of them have multiple Grey Cup championships. They’re gong to be respected by these players.”
Milanovich said he’s not yet through filling out a staff he expects will number seven or eight by the time he has finished.
The fate of Jaime Elizondo, who was the offensive co-ordinator under Barker’s watch, and Orlondo Steinauer, who finished 2011 as the defensive co-ordinator, has yet to be determined.