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Friday, August 25, 2000

Nothing can save Huard


History says today's Toronto Argonauts find-a- new-coach meeting will go something like this:

J. I. ALBRECHT: "OK, son, John Huard, my personal choice as head coach because he was clearly the best man for the job, has now gone winless in seven. As my personal hero, General Patton used to say, it's time to cut our casualties. Here are my choices as replacements. You tell me what you think."


J.I.: "Amos Alonzo Stagg."

DEAN: "Uh, deceased."

J.I.: "Knute Rockne."

DEAN: "Deceased."

J.I.: "George Halas."

DEAN: "Him, too."

J.I.: "George is dead?? Recently?"

DEAN: "Not exactly."

J.I.: "Damn! Well, OK, it looks like we'll have to go with one of the new guys. Get me Willie Wood."

DEAN: "Who?"

J.I. "Never mind. I've got a better idea. Call Don Shula. I remember him in college. Kid had a keen football mind. Great coaching potential.He's ready."

DEAN: "Dad, he's already in the NFL Hall of Fame."

J.I. : "Ridiculous! He was a GOOD player, but never a great one."

DEAN: "As a COACH, Dad."

J.I.: "OK, forget him. Marv Levy."

DEAN: "You went after him before the season. He laughed."

J.I. "Yeah, but it was a FRIENDLY laugh."

DEAN: "Uh, Dad..."

J.I.: "Bud Grant! Eagle Keys! Leo Cahill -- no, wait, we're not THAT desperate! Dave Skrien! Eagle Keys! Pete Catella! George Brancato! What's that?"

DEAN: "Warm milk, Dad."

J.I.: "Milk? Did Patton drink milk? Did Ike drink milk? In all the history books can you show me even one picture of Napoleon drinking milk? Work that phone. Get me ... get me Jim Champion."

DEAN: "Dead, Dad."

J.I. "Let's think positively. At least he's not working."

OK, so it won't be quite that bad.

But John Huard will be gone.

Not even J.I.'s insistence that the man he picked after interviews with more than a dozen other possibilities is a coaching paragon will save him now.

Not with the B.C. Lions obliterating the Argos 51-4 in Toronto last night and barely seeming to work up a sweat in the process -- and at that sweating more than an Argo mob playing, with few exceptions, as though they were trying to grease the skids.

Not with the Lions themselves unveiling a new head coach in Steve Buratto and playing with a new enthusiasm because of it.

The Argonaut mess is not all John Huard's fault.

Maybe it started when Sherwood Schwarz bought the club and gave J.I. free rein despite his 20-year hiatus. The team needed an infusion of talent and didn't get it. That's not coaching, that's management.

But when you're rebuilding a professional team, you do not hire a man whose previous pro head coaching experienced was two weeks in training camp in Shreveport. You go for a man who knows what has to be done and how to do it.

John Huard isn't the man. In this set-up, he was never going to be.

It shouldn't have taken eight games to figure that out.