Popp might get called to the Principals office

From the main page. Keep in mind its written by Herb

[url=http://www.cfl.ca/index.php?module=newser&func=display&nid=21442]http://www.cfl.ca/index.php?module=news ... &nid=21442[/url]
Owner Wetenhall seeks veterans' opinions on GM/coach in wake of Als' washout season

By Herb Zurkowsky,
Montreal Gazette

They don't sign the cheques, but some Alouettes players might have a stake in Jim Popp's future.

Fresh on the heels of Sunday's playoff elimination against

Winnipeg in the East semifinal, The Gazette has learned Als owner Robert Wetenhall wants to talk to several players about the strengths and weaknesses of Popp, the team's general manager and head coach.

Among those who will be asked for their input by Wetenhall - in person or over the phone - are three offensive veterans: slotback Ben Cahoon, centre Bryan Chiu and wide-receiver Kerry Watkins.

"I have not talked to Wetenhall about Popp," said Cahoon, obviously concerned that news of this has leaked out. "I won't discuss this publicly."

The Als had an 8-10 record under Popp during his first full season as coach, finishing third in the East Division. It marked the first time Montreal's had a losing record since returning to the Canadian Football League in 1996. Indeed, the team, which has made it to the Grey Cup four of the last six seasons, hasn't finished this low in the standings since 2001.

Popp has a year left on his coach's contract, with another three seasons as GM. After the Als' 24-22 loss to the Bombers, Popp said he intends to fulfill his commitment and has no intention of resigning as coach.

"Oh really?" Als president Larry Smith said yesterday, sounding surprised.

Nonetheless, Smith isn't prepared to tip his hand, saying the organization will conduct a complete review of its business and football operations, as it does at the conclusion of every season.

Smith said no time limit has been established for that review. However, if no announcement comes this week, it will probably be delayed until after the Nov. 25 Grey Cup.

"We just played ball (Sunday). Like any player, today is a day to look at what we did right and wrong. We're all disappointed. Everyone in the organization is upset - from players to coaches to ticket sellers. We played hard. We just weren't good enough," Smith said.

Everyone, of course, is talking about the Als' squandered third-down gamble from their 44 with 95 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Needing less than a yard, Marcus Brady was stopped on a quarterback sneak. The Bombers then gained 30 yards on five rushing plays - four by tailback Charles Roberts - setting up Troy Westwood's 20-yard winning field goal on the final play.

"It's such a basic play when you're inside a yard. And it's a high-percentage play," offensive coordinator Marcel Bellefeuille said yesterday.

"When it's third and less than a yard, you don't hand it off. A sneak is the only play."

Virtually every Montreal player concurred, although Winnipeg middle-linebacker Barrin Simpson said he was told by Brady after the game that the quarterback would have punted had the decision been his.

"I won't second-guess the call or the play selection," said Cahoon, scheduled to return home to Utah last night, thereby missing this morning's final team meeting at Olympic Stadium.

"You've got a better chance of winning the game by converting third and two feet than by kicking into a monsoon. It's a shame we didn't win that game. I can pinpoint five or six plays. In

the end, that (failed sneak) gave Winnipeg a chance."

Cahoon said the players must improve their work ethic. They must approach the days leading up to games, along with the six-month offseason, with the same vigour they bring to contests.

"We definitely took a huge step back from being perennial contenders. We barely made the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round," he said. "But I still think we're a decent team. We are good. I don't think there needs to be wholesale changes. What we need right now is a good, long offseason."


Oh and for someone who said Cahoon is Canadian and lives full time in Montreal
.......said Cahoon, [b]scheduled to return home to Utah [/b]last night, thereby missing this morning's final team meeting at Olympic Stadium.