Parker gets his wish
Former defensive back joins Alouettes coaching staff
For Billy Parker, the tough part of becoming a coach will be ordering around some of his old buddies in the Montreal Alouettes defence.
Parker, who retired after eight seasons with the Alouettes, was named a defensive assistant coach in Jacques Chapdelaine’s staff last week.
“The only ones I would have a hard time if I had to correct them would be (defensive end) John Bowman and (linebacker) Chip Cox,’’ Parker said Friday as the new staff was introduced to the media in the team’s lockerroom. “I’ve been playing with them and I am truly friends with them.
“We’re very close. But because we’re friends and have great respect for one another, they understand that it’s my job and that I wouldn’t do anything but try to help them. But I’m sure we will have some fun with that new dynamic in our relationship.’’
Parker, a fixture in the Alouettes’ backfield since 2009, wanted to be a coach even before he joined the Canadian Football League club.
The 35-year-old got the coaching bug when he played arena football from 2005 to 2008 with the defunct New York Dragons and coach Weylan Harding asked him to help analyse film and offer suggestions.
“That was the first time I sat down and looked at coaching,’’ said Parker. “That sparked that interest. Since then, I’ve been looking at the game, paying attention and trying to get opportunities to help me grow for this moment.’’
The defence has been one of the only bright spots on the once-powerful Alouettes as they missed the playoff the last two seasons, but they opted to make changes for the 2017 campaign. Defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe is back for a fifth season, but instead of having assistants assigned to specific positions, they’ll have generic job titles. Former linebackers coach Greg Quick is senior defensive assistant white Parker and Jason Hogan are assistants.
The plan is to have coaches work with player on the various aspects of defensive play.
“There will be leadership roles,’’ said Thorpe. “A lot of the front play will be taken by coach Quick.
“I’m going to be a conduit between the front and back ends. Because most of his expertise is in the cover game, Billy will have a leadership role in the back end, along with Hogan working with the free safeties. The division won’t cause any problem at all.’’
A coaching shake-up was expected. Chapdelaine, who had been brought in to help Anthony Calvillo as offensive co-ordinator, ended up replacing Jim Popp as head coach in September. The team went 4-2 under his guidance and he was kept on when Popp was replaced as general manager by former special team co-ordinator Kavis Reed.
Parker knew he would retire from playing at the end of last season but didn’t think there were any coaching jobs open in Montreal. He had been looking for a job when Thorpe called offering a spot.
“When I came here in 2013 Billy was already having a successful career and I knew that at some point there would be a transition into coaching,’’ said Thorpe. “This is something he said he wanted to do.
“And he has a coaching pedigree. He comes from a teaching family. Both of his parents are in the educational system. You could see how he embraced and taught young football players, so it was a natural fit for us.’’
In this file photo, Hamilton Tiger-Cats Nic Grigsby falls into the end zone for a touchdown past Montreal Alouettes cornerback Billy Parker during first half action in the CFL Eastern Division final in Hamilton, Ont., on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014.