Trestman Out as Argonauts Head Coach
Saturday, November 3, 2018
TORONTO -- Marc Trestman is done. He was fired Saturday morning by the Toronto Argonauts, just hours after wrapping up a dismal 4-14 with a 24-9 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks Friday. This only a year removed from winning the 2017 Grey Cup with a fairly similar team. The firing came at 8am, which indicates the decision had been made for some time.
But the injury bug bit the Argos hard, and that’s not Trestman’s fault.
It’s believed there was tension between him and management with his hesitations to play players that General Manager Jim Popp invested in bringing to Toronto.
QB James Franklin gave up free agency to sign with the Argonauts when Popp traded with Edmonton for his rights. It was believed Franklin would immediately become the number 2 behind Ricky Ray, but Trestman was reluctant to use him after Ray went down in Week 2.
Franklin was benched in favour of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who mustered just two wins in 8 starts.
Receiver Duron Carter was brought in mid-season in attempts to salvage any remaining playoff hopes the Argos had. Again, Trestman seemed uncomfortable using the Ohio State product, who finished the season with just 10 catches in 8 games with Toronto.
There was speculation that Trestman’s ‘football first’ mentality also clashed with the MLSE Ownership when trying to market the team and increase attendance. Community engagement events would be placed on hold in favour of practices and team-based activities, which reportedly created a clash of cultures between the coach and management.
Economics was also speculated as a factor in Trestman’s dismissal. The Minnesota native and GM Popp are paid at the top of the allotted personnel salary. With the implementation of the CFL’s new Coach’s Cap, it’s possible the Argos could no longer afford to keep both men.
But Argos and Toronto FC President Bill Manning put all those rumours to rest in an Argonauts’ press conference Saturday afternoon.
He said it was simply due to the poor performance on the field that led to Trestman’s dismissal.
“This was an organizational decision,” said GM Jim Popp, following up on Manning’s comments. “We were expected to win and we didn’t. We were a Grey Cup team a year ago… I have an obligation to do what’s right for the organization, so a decision was made.”
It hasn’t been an easy year for 62-year-old Trestman. He lost his father on Labour Day. His mother’s cancer has returned. Both his wife and older sister are battling multiple myeloma. He left the Argos on three separate occasions to be with his family in Minnesota and juggling it all on top of trying to pick up a struggling football team was no easy task.
Trestman coached the Chicago Bears from 2012-2014, and it’s possible Trestman will take a year away from football after such a rollercoaster year, if he even wants to return.
Trestman ends his time in Toronto with a 15-23 record over 2 seasons, and a Grey Cup championship in his first season.
Popp will remain with the team as GM and will immediately begin the search for Toronto’s 44thhead coach. It is rumoured that a potential candidate for the job is current Hamilton Tiger-Cats assistant coach Orlando Steinauer.
The Seattle native is on his second stint with the Ticats. He was previously their defensive co-ordinator from 2013-2016. Before that, Steinauer coached with Toronto and won the 100thGrey Cup with the Argonauts in 2012.
The process will be strung out over the next few months and, because of the new coach cap, a lot of Trestman’s remaining staff will likely stay on due to their current contracts.
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Photo: Canadian Press