Canadian Football League

Monday, December 14, 2009

Argos Looking For New Canadian Football League Head Coach

The search for the 41st head coach in Toronto Argonauts history was in full swing Monday following the dismissal of Bart Andrus after the Canadian Football League team's 3-15 record this season.

"We would like to thank Bart for his efforts during a challenging season," Argos president and CEO Bob Nicholson said in a statement. "Bart came to us with an impressive resume ... we look forward to building a winning team on the field."

The three wins by Toronto is the worst showing in 16 years and might also result in general manager Adam Rita losing his job.

However, there is talk Rita could stay on should current B.C. Lions owner David Braley purchase the Argos from David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

Under the 51-year-old Andrus, Toronto won once in its final 14 games this past season and was the most penalized team in the league.

Defensive end Jonathan Brown told the Toronto Sun last month that Rita's trade of all-star receiver Arland Bruce early in the season was the beginning of the end.

"Arland is a big-play threat and we never could recover from that," he said. "In this league, you need to have a perennial all-star at the receiver position."

In July, Bruce was left behind for a road game for disciplinary reasons. The Argos fined him four times this season for unprofessional behaviour that included leaving his playbook on a plane in Calgary and missing special-teams meetings.

Andrus had struggles

Besides Bruce, Andrus's public spat with cornerback Byron Parker became a distraction off the field. Parker was dealt to the Edmonton Eskimos in September.

Despite going over much game film of the Argos and other CFL teams following his hiring last January, Andrus, who had no previous experience in the league, appeared to have his struggles adjusting during games as the season progressed.

One of the knocks on the former NFL assistant coach was his decision to be the team's offensive co-ordinator rather than hiring someone with CFL experience. He relented once the season ended, saying he would step away from the role if he remained at the helm.

The Argos were plagued by a weak offence as veteran quarterback Kerry Joseph could not be resurrected under Andrus, while Cody Pickett was inconsistent and third-stringer Stephen Reaves remains an unknown.

NFL experience

In his lone season with Toronto, Andrus fared worse than his predecessors, Don Matthews and Rich Stubler, who combined for a 4-14 mark in 2008. The Argos dropped nine consecutive games with Matthews at the helm.

Andrus wasn't the first choice of Toronto management to take over. Lions defensive co-ordinator Mike Benevides turned the job down.

Andrus joined the Argos following two stints with the NFL's Tennessee Titans, and had experience coaching in the defunct NFL Europe and collegiately in the United States.

He guided the Amsterdam Admirals for six years before the European league folded. The team made the championship final twice, with Andrus recognized as the league's top coach in 2005.

In Toronto, the hope was he could follow in the footsteps of Alouettes bench boss Marc Trestman, who also was a CFL neophyte before taking Montreal to the Grey Cup in 2008.

The Alouettes fell to Calgary in last year's championship, but redeemed themselves last month with a 28-27 victory over Saskatchewan on a last-second 33-yard field goal by Damon Duval to take the CFL title.


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