CFL coaches in target zone

The TV commercials for CFL broadcasts are repeated over and over with little evidence of imagination or anything even on the outer fringes of funny. But one commercial probably hits home with every head coach.

The TV commercials for CFL broadcasts are repeated over and over with little evidence of imagination or anything even on the outer fringes of funny.

But one commercial probably hits home with every head coach. The commercial shows CFL coaches, then a series of bull’s-eye circles are drawn around the men. The message is an opportunity to draw up a theoretical play for a team. Most CFL coaches would have a different reaction to a commercial like this as they are the bull’s-eye centerpieces.

The cold, hard facts of the matter are that coaches become targets seconds after they sign a contract. A decent general manager and player scout support system plays a big role in the success, but ultimately the fall guy is the head coach.

So the bull’s-eye question will always exist for head coaches, and today I would like to discuss the concept as it applies to the current head coaches in the CFL.

Montreal Alouette head man Marc Trestman is in a very safe range outside of the circles. But recent losses have put him into the gravitational pull of the outer circles of the bull’s-eye. He is still in no danger, but there is a tug into a criticism zone for a diminished run game and cover concerns.

Toronto Argonaut coach Jim Barker is a rare species in southern Ontario. He is the head coach of a winning team with real playoff dreams.

Currently there are no target circles on his back because winning is the best way to avoid this problem. A few losses will pull Barker into the outer circles fairly rapidly, however the man is a very good coach who was never fully appreciated for his abilities.

Hamilton coach Marcel Bellefueille is in the medium zone of the circles. His track record this year has moved him closer to the centre of the bull’s-eye. He is a bigger target to be a former coach if he loses a couple of crucial games in the next month to the hated Argos. I think his team is talented enough to make a move, so time will tell for Bellefueille.

Winnipeg coach Paul LaPolice is definitely tangled up in the outer circles of the target. His team has underperformed this year, despite the addition of talented and fragile quarterback Buck Pierce. The safety net for LaPolice will be underrated quarterback Stephen Jyles, a guy who has been ridiculed by Roughrider fans, yet demonstrates abilities very close to those of “superstar” ’Rider pivot Darian Durant.

Saskatchewan coach Ken Miller is very safe and outside of any target circles.

He was drawn well into the circles two years ago when he brought the enormously untalented coach killer Michael Bishop to town, but things are stable in 2010 for Miller.

The same could be said for Calgary coach John Hufnagel, an elite coach in any league. He was even smart enough to bring in future head coach Dave Dickenson as an apprentice.

Eskimo coach Richie Hall is right in the centre of a bull’s-eye in a dead coach walking kind of way. Hall is a nice guy and we know where they finish in football.

Lastly, Lions coach Wally Buono is close to the bull’s-eye. However, his incredible coaching record makes him less of a target than anybody outside of Vince Lombardi. Wally’s exit will be on Wally’s terms.

Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer whose column on the CFL appears on Tuesdays and Fridays. He can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com