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February 2, 2000

Huard blasts league's best defence

By Perry Lefko

John Huard didn't wait to rock the Boatmen.

When he was announced yesterday as the Argos' new coach, Huard criticized the team's defence, which last year ranked as the best in the CFL. He also preached about the benefit computer analysis in breaking down game film and the use of skipping to condition his players.

He rejected the idea he is a disciplinarian. "I'm just a little pussycat," he said. "I always care for my players. I want the very best for them on and off the field."

Huard has been out of football since he was fired after only two weeks coaching the 1994 Shreveport Pirates. He said "philosophical differences" with Lonie Glieberman, whose father, Bernie, owned the team, led to his dismissal.

"There's no doubt in my mind we were on track," Huard said. "We would have won the Grey Cup and won it quick."

Huard, 55, has been living in Maine, where he wrote two unpublished football books. He said he rejected assistant coaching offers in Canada and the U.S.

"I'm at a stage in my life where being an assistant is not what I want to do," Huard said. "I'd rather stay at home with my grandchildren and write books. (The Argos job) is a dream."

It was made possible by Argos managing director J.I. Albrecht, who considers Huard to be like a son. Albrecht has been inspirational in Huard's pro career, which included NFL stops in Denver and Los Angeles. In the CFL, Huard played for Montreal and Toronto.

In 1979 Albrecht recommended Huard for the head-coaching job at Acadia, where he won the Canadian university championship twice in three years. Albrecht hired Huard in Shreveport.

"He's the most cerebral coach I've ever been around," Albrecht said. "He's brilliant." Albrecht, who has criticized the CFL for its failure to hire minorities as head coaches, said he considers Huard a minority hiring because his grandfather is a native and he has French-Canadian ancestry. Huard is white. "I had an opportunity to select the best coach available," Albrecht said. "One thing I have been all my life is a champion for the minorities."