Moratorium of coaching movement imposed by CFL

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CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge has sent a memo to all @CFL presidents and GMs declaring a moratorium on all coaching movement @TSN_Sports
Looks like he's taking this seriously. Maybe I was too hard on the guy earlier this year, he's showing a lot more ability to act recently.

I think bringing the entire league to a halt is a Roger Goodell type move.

I don't think you can take off your homer goggles long enough to see the situation objectively.

As opposed to letting the gong show carry on unabated? This off season has been a disgrace when it comes to pretending contracts have no meaning whatsoever. Good on him for stepping up and acting.

We need a policy on how this should be handled, desperately.

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CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge sent a memo to all teams in the league, stating there will be a moratorium on any coaches' movement from one club to another unless approved by the league, until further notice. Read the memo in full:

Effective immediately, there will be a moratorium on any coaches’ movement from one Club to another Club, unless such transaction is expressly approved in writing by the Commissioner or his delegate, prior to the movement taking place. This only applies to coaches who are currently under contract with a CFL Club.

For greater clarity, no Member Club or any person connected directly or indirectly with the Club will be allowed to have any contact or discussions with a CFL coach currently under contract with another Club, unless:

(a) permission in writing has been first obtained from the coach’s current Club (President or General Manager) to engage in such discussions and express permission has been granted to enter into a contract with the other Club, and

(b) approval in writing by the Commissioner or his delegate copied to both Clubs and the coach, for the coach to engage in such discussions with the other Club.

Furthermore, the fact that a CFL coach currently under contract attempts to resign with his current Club in order to sign with another Club will not void or circumvent the two pre-conditions above for the duration of the coach’s contract, provided that the coach’s contract is legally enforceable.

This moratorium will be in place until further notice.

He can now take all the time he needs well at least until the next hiring season to put a policy in place. Quite brilliant and the first time a Commish uses "Executive discretion" in the CFL in a long, long time. Esk can still ask for consent and if they receive it hire within the CFL or they can go outside the CFL to flesh out their staff. My guess is they don't need to bother calling Montreal, Ottawa or Saskatchewan, but its just a guess.

I would think the league is not happy with Edmonton now with these two coaches but demanding Ottawa not be allowed to cut logs.

Unbelievable, would you rather the guy just stay and dog f@*k it all next season.

Need to digest it but at a first glance it's good move by Mr. Orridge. This will bridge the time for arbitrator to rule in the Mass case and get the rest of a governors in together and get a proper written policy in place.

One CFL executive responded quickly to Orridge's memo.
“Coaches better be careful because there are going to be major ramifications on this and there's is unanimity that coaches’ movement needs a legitimate policy for those coaches under contract,? the executive said. “And that was before the latest issues with Maas and Thorpe. The Thorpe issue is an absolute joke. In the 80's and 90's we let football people run the business and drive the bus. Look what it got the league — almost killed it. Now we have professional operators and sophisticated owners who understand you don't let the inmates run the asylum. Why do we have contracts at all? What would stop a coaching from quitting midseason and going to work for another team in the postseason? The whole thing is insanity.?

No, I want to create an environment where this sort of super-shady transaction doesn't routinely take place without repercussions. And judging from Orridge's memo and the comments of the executive Lawless quotes above, many in the CFL agree with me. His response to this is going to make coaches think twice about breaking the rules just to sign with another team.

Thorpe doesn't like his contract? Well, he signed it and he has to honor it. It's that simple. If you try to walk away from a company mid-contract to sign with a rival, you will get your a$$ sued faster than you can say it. This is about business ethics and professionalism. Now, he's hosed, and rightfully so. He's no longer an employee of the Als, but he can't sign with another CFL team unless the league and Popp approve it. If I were Popp, I'd let Thorpe rot for two years while we hire another DC. That would be justice.

I like the "stop and take a breath" approach at the moment.

The league is in the midst of a whirlwind and it needs to stop so the situation can be assessed.

I think there has been a lot of argument on this discussion board, much of it biased towards peoples' own teams, about how things should be. I think we should set that aside for the moment, and look at things how they are.

Right now, coaches get guaranteed contracts. Players do not. Right or wrong, that's how it is. It is unlikely to change, as this is the norm in virtually every professional sports league.

Right now, after their contract has expired, coaches are free to move about unrestricted, just like any other employee or contractor in any other industry in Canada. Players are not, due to the nature of the draft and teams owning a player's rights as "property". This is also unlikely to change as this is the norm in virtually every other sports league.

Right now, while under contract, coaches are restricted from moving to another team UNLESS the new team asks the old team for permission to interview the coach, permission is granted, and the old team agrees to release the coach from his contract. This is entirely at the discretion of the old team, and no one else. This is the norm in other professional leagues. As I understand it, the standard NCAA contract has compensation clauses built in, but that is not the norm. The NHL used to have compensation policies regarding coaches, but I understand that has been abandoned.

Right now, there is a gentleman's agreement in place regarding coaches and staff that all teams will allow other teams to interview their staff, provided the new position with the new team would be a promotion with a pay raise. So far, all teams have honoured this gentleman's agreement except Ottawa in the case of Jason Maas, and apparently Hamilton in the case of Orlando Steinauer. Both of these exceptions happened within the past few weeks. Prior to that, coaches were routinely allowed to exit their contracts for promotions with other teams. This happened often, and was the norm in the CFL. It is also the norm in the NFL, and most other professional leagues.

Right now, players contracts differ from coaches contracts in that players' rights are considered property, and can be traded, sold, etc. Archaic, but the norm in all professional and amateur sports leagues. That is why we have free agency, the neg list, the draft, etc. Players rights are treated like a patent, and once the patent expires, we have unrestricted free agency. Until then, the patent belongs to whomever acquired it (the team). Also, players do not have guaranteed contracts. They can be cut or released unilaterally. Fair or not, this is the norm in pretty much every sports league on the planet.

Right now, there is a salary management system for players. There is not one for coaches or staff. Fair or not, that is how it is.

So, why all the furor this year? When nothing has really changed from previous years? Well, let's see...

A championship team has seen their entire coaching staff move to a division rival. That's unusual, and very high profile. But with the exception of the head coach, all the other staff was at the end of their contracts. Under the law, they are free to seek employment with whomever they choose, so no problem there.

The head coach in question was released from his contract willingly by his old team under the gentleman's agreement for a promotion. So no problem there. Some people have complained about the pay rate, but first, the total pay is within the norms for the positions he is filling, and second, it is nobody else's business to decide how negotiations proceed between a contractor and employer.

The GM of the championship team now needs to rebuild his coaching staff. He asked two different teams for permission, and expected to receive it under the same gentleman's agreement that he honoured and that has been in place for as long as anyone cares to remember. Except this time, the teams he approached declined to honour the gentleman's agreement.

In the case of Hamilton, he got a flat out "no, you can't talk to Orlando". As the contract holder, Hamilton is within their rights to enforce the contract and deny permission. It just isn't how things were done in the past, but legally, they were in the right. Whatever dispute occurred between Steinauer and Hamilton brass that allowed him to be interviewed was strictly an internal matter, an no one else's business. In any case it became a moot point.

In the case of Ottawa, things are a bit more murky. Permission to speak to Maas was given. Generally no problem there. Everything according to the gentleman's agreement. Then a rookie owner, who may not be familiar with the gentleman's agreement, went through a different channel (Esks president instead of GM) demanding compensation in order to release his coach. IMO, if Ottawa wanted compensation, that should have been a condition of letting them speak to Maas in the first place, not an afterthought thrown in later. However, this is the first place where things actually get messy. It will go to arbitration. However it ends, one side will be unhappy.

Now we have another situation where a coach has resigned from a position with his team with two years remaining on his contract. On the surface, it should simply be a dispute between contractor and employer. Happens all the time, contracts get cancelled or voided for any number of reasons. No need to involve the league.

EXCEPT... rumours are circulating that the reason for the resignation is so that he could take a job with another team, specifically the championship team. IF THAT RUMOUR IS TRUE, the league rules were violated because the employer (Montreal) was not asked permission and given the option of deciding whether or not they would allow their coach to be interviewed. If permission were asked, it would be up to Montreal to decide whether or not to honour the gentleman's agreement. At this stage, its all just a rumour anyway. But if true, I would speculate that the championship GM felt burned by his two previous attempts to hire coaches, and decided to go a different route. If this rumour is true, then it is a violation of both rules and gentleman's agreement that have been in place for some time, and the situation would need to be dealt with by the league.

So what we have here is a system that has worked for decades and decades, where everyone more or less played nicely together in the same sandbox. This year has seen a perfect storm of events that are both high profile and unusual, along with a few individuals who decided to go against the traditional ways of doing business. This has led to a giant blow up which harms many reputations, including that of the league.

Was it necessary? Was it time for a change? Will the league go overboard and impose so much red tape as to dissuade quality coaches from wanting to come to the CFL? Was the old system too "Wild Wild West"? Or just too fragile to balance on the knife edge of goodwill forever?

I do think that the gentleman's agreement should be formalized. It is impossible for the league, or any governing body of anything, to impose rules and punishments without having the rules in writing and easy to understand. I do not think that the league should have a standard compensation package imposed upon teams. However, teams should be able to trade coaches (resulting in defacto compensation) but only upon the coach's request. I think that guaranteed contracts for coaches should be replaced with a buyout clause. Incidentally, I think players should be treated the same...a buyout instead of an outright release. Actually, I think the buyout clause should work both ways, and players or coaches should be able to buy their way out of their own contracts if a better opportunity comes along. But this last paragraph is getting back into the debate about "how things should be", instead of "how they are".

The way they are, the Maas situation will go to arbitration. If CFL tradition and precedent of how business has been conducted in the past are followed, there will be no compensation allotted.

The way things are, the Thorpe situation will be investigated. If he did resign to circumvent tampering rules, then he, and Edmonton, need to be punished. Thorpe himself may end up being sued by his team for breach of contract in that case, as well. If he simply left his job, then that is between him and Montreal, and it ends there.

But at the end of the day, this is not the end of the world, or even the league. Its just some odd circumstances that happened to fall in line perfectly, just as the league is breaking in a new commissioner, and after a particularly bad year for attendance, revenue, and on-field product quality. The sky is not falling.

Thorpe was asst Head Coach as well as DC. He is passed over twice for the Head coaching job. Then they promote Kavis Reed to Asst. Head Coach he sees the writing on the wall and says I am not appreciated here.

In that situation I would want to quit as well wouldn't you? I would go anywhere else where I might be better appreciated.

Fair enough. And fine, as long as no other team approached him. However if another team did want to talk to him, they should have gone through the appropriate steps and gotten permission. Given the fact that Thorpe was passed over, it is likely that permission would have been given.

Of course, as always, this is all speculation and we have no idea why he actually resigned.

BS. The watchword this year was continuity. With all the changes the team had gone through, Popp wanted to keep Thorpe at DC so he could continue to build the defense. Kavis being elevated to assistant HC has nothing to do with Thorpe. As for being passed over, let's back up. Thorpe has three years experience as a DC. Show me where that entitles him to HC consideration. Furthermore, there is no indication that Thorpe was in consideration for the HC job. That's just innuendo.

We gave Thorpe a chance when he was coaching CIS, we allowed him to build a reputation as a top DC in this league, we made him assistant HC. How does any of that translate to a lack of appreciation?

In that situation I would want to quit as well wouldn't you? I would go anywhere else where I might be better appreciated.
This isn't a millennial validation clinic. :) You and I have feelings, sure. In such a situation, we might want certain things. We all do. I'd like to be independently wealthy! But realistically and practically, there are constraints on what we can do and where we can go to work. When you sign a contract, you undertake to fulfill that contract. If you have misgivings about it, you either live with those misgivings or you ask your employer to be released from it so you can pursue work elsewhere. In the latter case, though, you had better make sure your actions are legal or it will come back to bite you. Doesn't matter how much you hate your job.

The reality is the moratorium just puts the existing system in writing and forces teams to get permission in writing. Orridge hasn't changed things, he's just made sure that the rules are followed and he is doing it with a paper trail.

When a guy like Thorpe starts offering jobs to people and he's not even out of his contract, you know things need to be cleaned up.

Nothing's going to change, the owners still run the league, not the commish.

In a perfect world and contractually you may be correct BUT this is not a perfect world.

Here is an example. " You are a Night Auditor at a Hotel. (A very important and in demand position btw) You have years of experience and feel that you are ready to advance in management. You apply and are told you don’t have enough experience we will give you a buck more and hour and call you night manager. The hotel then tellsthe other full time night auditor you get a buck an hour more and are now a Night Manager too. The next year your friend is hired as a General manager at a hotel in the city calls you up and says Quit the hotel and come work with me I’ll hire you as Front Office manager for more money and looks much better in a CV.

What do you do stay in a job with no prospects or go where you are advancing yourself? I understand where Noel Thorpe is coming from and would go to the other position.

Again.. Don't know too many hotel clerks with six figure contracts and multi-year deal.

Excellent move by the commissioner. Simple, enforceable and easily interpreted by all involved.

Not sure where it leaves Montreal other than to allow contact, subject to compensation or not and let him go or force him to stay. Not sure they can let him "rot" on the sidelines. They have to abide by the contract as well.

Either way this is positive step going forward.