Some will be harsh, and even crude, in their criticism on this board but I have sent the following via snail mail:
[i]Mr. Robert Wettenhall
c/o Montreal Alouettes
1260, rue University #100
Dear Mr. Wettenhall
First, let me thank you for having provided many years of consistently high quality football to Montreal Alouettes fans An accomplishment that must be acknowledged and is appreciated.
However, as I am certain you feel, and many will tell you in one way or another, the last two seasons have been at best disappointing, and for more than just the product on the field. In both instances, head coaches were chosen long after the “best? candidates were gone and very late in the game for those coaches to build a quality staff.
Dan Hawkins was allegedly hired with the understanding that a successful, veteran offence lead by an all-time great quarterback should be respected and the playbook retained. He then went out and hired the largest staff in Alouettes history and managed an extensive revision, if not complete re-write, of the playbook. We all know the result.
Last winter the selection of a coach was awkward in that general manager Jim Popp was a candidate, but the decision was again very late and reported as having been made without any true search. Your choice, Tom Higgins, then personally selected an offensive coordinator whose behaviour necessitated his departure before the season even began, throwing a young coach who might have been challenged in his first season as the quarterback coach into both that role and that of offensive coordinator. He also decided that he was able to both be the head coach and the special teams coordinator. Well, the head coach lead the team to a 1-7 start and the special teams coach was a failure all season long; most importantly in the most significant games of the season; the season ending game for first place in the eastern conference and the eastern conference final. Jeff Reinebold dominated Coach Higgins throughout both games and made the difference in both. The Alouettes impressive “second half? seems far more attributable to the addition of assistants Jeff Garcia and Turk Schonert than guidance by Coach Higgins. Apparently there was a reason that no team had “stolen? him from his job of head of officiating when he filled that role for the CFL. Admittedly as a complete outsider, not dousing Coach Higgins after the semi-final win spoke volumes to me about the team’s enthusiasm for their head coach.
Recognizing that the last two off-seasons have saddled you with financial obligations for coaches no longer working for the Alouettes, it must also be acknowledged that the reason is that the ownership team made poor selections.
I must admit that I am not a season ticket holder, as I live in Ottawa, but I have been an Alouettes fan for 46 seasons; dating back to games at the Autostade the year before Sam Berger provided stable ownership and the Alouettes miraculously won the 1970 Grey Cup (I was “at? some games earlier in the 60s’ at Molson Stadium when George Dixon and Don Clark struggled on weak teams, but apparently I was more interested in where the peanut vendor was at any given moment; my older siblings could not always use the family’s third ticket). As a fan, these last two seasons have been the worst the Concordes era.
The impact of the poor on-field product was obvious in the attendance this season, including the semi-final game (despite all the “reasons? cited). Hopefully the need to draw back the lost fans will outweigh the economic impact of having paid several coaches not to coach, and a proper and thorough search will be conducted in short order to replace Coach Higgins. I have no doubt he is a fine gentleman, but even admitting he needs a dedicated special teams coach would not be enough to spark any confidence in his leadership entering next season. I also agree with commentary on the TSN690 post-game show that the Alouettes need their own dedicated practice and training facilities. The team is rapidly falling behind their competitors and the one-time recruiting advantage of dominating the eastern conference is obviously gone. Quality facilities suggest a quality organization.
The team may have player personnel needs, but to me and many other fans the coaching staff is a far larger problem. I ask that you do what is best for the Alouettes, I honestly believe that will also be what is best for you as the owner in the long term.