TWO AND OUT

Scullers sack their coach, cite han­dling of QBs and record as two key rea­sons

Sunday Sports - - FRONT PAGE - TERRY KOSHAN tkoshan@post­media.com @koshtoron­to­sun

Af­ter lead­ing the Ar­gos to a Grey Cup in his first sea­son, Marc Trest­man fired with team tum­bling to the CFL’s base­ment in his sec­ond

Mis­align­ment and miss­ing the play­offs re­sulted in the Toronto Arg­onauts’ fir­ing of head coach Marc Trest­man on Satur­day.

“I just felt there was a mis­align­ment on some things within the team that I wanted to make sure I gave (gen­eral man­ager) Jim (Popp) my sup­port to go out and fix it,” Ar­gos pres­i­dent Bill Man­ning said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence with Popp at BMO Field.

“When you’re end­ing the sea­son like we did, which is un­ac­cept­able, we don’t want, in MLSE, any of our (teams) to be a 4-14 team.

“I felt a change had to be made and I needed to make a de­ci­sion on who I wanted mov­ing this foot­ball op­er­a­tion go­ing for­ward and I de­cided Jim was the right guy to do that.”

The Ar­gos’ loss in Ot­tawa on Fri­day night against the Red­blacks, the fi­nal nail in a sea­son from hell, erased the last bit of good that re­mained from the Grey Cup cham­pi­onship sea­son of 2017. Sure, play­ers on that Ar­gos team will have Cup rings that can’t be taken away, but the de­cline of the club on the field, and with many mem­bers of that team still in Dou­ble Blue, was not an­tic­i­pated by any­one, even af­ter quar­ter­back Ricky Ray suf­fered a sea­son-end­ing neck in­jury in Toronto’s home opener in June.

How Trest­man used quar­ter­backs James Franklin and McLeod BethelThomp­son af­ter Ray was hurt was a ma­jor point of con­tention within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. And lit­tle use of tal­ented but pos­si­bly dis­rup­tive re­ceiver Duron Carter af­ter he signed with Toronto in Au­gust also didn’t sit well.

“I think the quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion, clearly there was some maybe dif­fer­ence in opin­ions on who should be play­ing,” Man­ning said. “The ac­qui­si­tion of Duron Carter, where there was again a lit­tle bit of dif­fer­ence, from my seat. I’m not in­volved in … mak­ing those de­ci­sions, but as the su­per­vi­sor of the team, I saw a lit­tle mis­align­ment.”

The us­age of Franklin, Bethel-Thomp­son and Carter were all parts of the over­all prob­lem, but for Man­ning, there was an­other fac­tor in let­ting Trest­man go, one that held plenty more weight.

“I just felt the way the sea­son ended, you didn’t see … there was no one root­ing for this team to suc­ceed more than me,” Man­ning said. “Game af­ter game, espe­cially to­ward the end of the sea­son, I just felt the team was not play­ing for Marc. The team lost its way.”

The fu­ture of Ray re­mains a ques­tion mark, but no one would fault the Ar­gos if they de­cided to move on. The 39-year-old Ray, as clear a Hall of Famer as any player be­fore him, said on Satur­day he still has “feel­ings of want­ing to play” but also that he has to make sure he makes “the right de­ci­sion.” Ray is one of sev­eral Cana­dian Foot­ball League quar­ter­backs who will be a free agent in the off-sea­son.

Popp, hav­ing had large mea­sures of suc­cess with Trest­man in Mon­treal and then last year, dis­cussed Trest­man’s at­tributes, not­ing that Franklin and BethelThomp­son had “great coach­ing” but could not find con­sis­tency.

Only the bot­tom line — four wins in 18 games — mat­tered, as these things in sports tend to go.

“Peo­ple can de­bate how good a team we had, espe­cially as we got in­juries,” Popp said. “I be­lieve we were good enough to be a play­off team, even if we were a .500 team, and we had plenty of chances to win games to be a .500 team.

“It’s in all three phases we needed to be bet­ter.

“Was (fir­ing Trest­man) the right move? Was it not the right move? I think things cou­pled to­gether and we did not fin­ish very strong, prob­a­bly was why the fi­nal de­ci­sion was made.

“We’re ex­pected to win and we won a Grey Cup a year ago and it’s a very hard thing for me be­cause Marc and I have col­lab­o­rated for seven years, five (in Mon­treal) and then two more. In that time, we have gone to four Grey Cups.

“That is not just a oneper­son de­ci­sion, it was an or­ga­ni­za­tional de­ci­sion and (about) look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture.”

CRAIG ROBERTSON/TORONTO SUN

Marc Trest­man was sacked as head coach of the Ar­gos yes­ter­day af­ter their 4-14 sea­son. Team pres­i­dent Bill Man­ning stated he felt the club had ‘lost its way’ un­der Trest­man.

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