A head coach with too many hats -- pros and cons

Picking up a conversation from a news article thread to avoid going too far off-topic.

@Squishy21 The irony is that as an Als fan, I want Maas to cede the full OC portfolio to AC in 2024, even though I know it’s very unlikely to happen.

All I’ll say is that I think this discussion is the same as the rest vs rust discussion. There are valid examples of success and failure on both sides.

Scotty Bowman handled both roles simultaneously pretty well. No doubt for others it is a struggle. It is also a struggle if you’re the coach and your GM doesn’t see eye to eye with you on personnel. You don’t get who you want and lose and you’re the first one gone, not the GM. I would prefer both roles myself. But then you have nowhere to hide if you lose.

There also isn’t necessarily a causal connection between wearimg too many hats and losing. Maybe you are doing as well as any two other people could but you have inherited poor personnel or are devastated by injuries. I’m thinking Lapolice here.

I think it depends on the specific situation and the talents of the people involved. In the CFL at least money ie. the coaches cap, can also be a factor. There are many people who have more challenging jobs than coaching two areas of a team in professional football and do just fine. Any CEO of a decent sized company has a much more difficult job and wears many more hats. There are no easy answers here I think.


I tend to agree. Neither approach is inherently bad or good, although you see fewer and fewer instances of the GM and the head coach being the same guy. But when it comes to HC and OC/DC, that’s still very much prevalent around the league.


Probably with some reason. Just remembering that Hugh Campbell used to call plays for the offence - even with Joe Farragelli, Cal Murphy, and Don Mathews as his co-ordinators.
Look at that linage of success too…I believe all of them went on to win Grey Cups as head coaches.

I think that’s a huge part of where my opinion was formed from as well. Teaching that next round of coaches, and having time to “coach the coaches” is important too.


From the first offensive snap of the 2023 Grey Cup, it was clear that Montreal was running a very different attack than what they’d showed all year against pretty much anyone. All the quick screens, the targeted deep shots, using the run to set up the pass and not vice-versa. The playcalling had a very Marc Trestman feel to it. I don’t think AC called the plays in the Grey Cup (we’d probably have heard about it if he had) but I think his fingerprints are all over the Als’ offence in that game. He may have suggested a number of plays to Maas. To me, he’s ready to take charge of the offence and produce better results than our 2023 offence, while also taking some work off Maas’s plate.

What a group of coaches! Funnily enough, Matthews in later years became known for essentially doubling as DC in addition to his HC role, despite never officially being the DC. From 2002 to about 2005, He was the one calling defensive plays, not Chris Jones.

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But at that point - that should be your job as HC. If you have learned your craft and prepared your coaches and your team, you should call the plays.

Thats part of your prep as head coach. To set up the game to take advantage of your opponents weaknesses.

Thats what a head coach should do, coach his coaches, not his players day to day.

But when you wear too many hats you end up coaching players, not coaches.

There are exceptions - like the Elks who have been short of cap space, where coaches have to wear more than one hat, but look st the results…not good.

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When The Don was in Toronto I believe he had John Jenkins as his supposed OC. But he apparently told him that Doug Flutie would be calling his own plays. Probably the last pro QB to do that.

Calvillo called his own plays under Matthews from 2002 to 2006.


To be fair, Bowman experienced his least success of his career during his years where he was both coach and GM.

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