Alouettes fire Jones; Maciocia takes over on an interim basis

Gary Stern, owner of the Montreal Alouettes, warned before the season started that if his team got off to a bad start, he wouldn’t stand by and do nothing. The first pawn on the chessboard fell on Wednesday as head coach Khari Jones showed the way out.

It is also general manager Danny Maciocia who will fill the role on an interim basis until the conclusion of the 2022 season.

“Such decisions are always difficult to make, but in our eyes it was necessary. It was better to take it early in the season while there is still time,” Maciocia said in a statement.

This firing comes 24 hours after the CEO said he was “not there.” How things can change quickly in the world of professional sports.

A valued coach

On the player side, full-back Christophe Normand and linebacker Brian Harelimana had the same feelings when it came to Jones.

“Khari is a guy who was loved and he’s a really nice person,” said the former.

“He was loved and respected by the entire dressing room, for his part the second spoke out. Sometimes you just need a breath of fresh air. But that doesn’t take away from Khari, who was a really good leader.”

While the 51-year-old’s sacking came as a surprise to Normand, Harelimana didn’t fall from his chair upon hearing the news considering the team has gone a disappointing 3-1 so far in 2022.

“We don’t really talk about it among ourselves, but we all felt it. We knew we had to get better with the club we have. With every defeat we felt the pressure increasing,” said the defender.

“It’s a shame it’s going like this, but our number one goal is to win a championship. From that perspective, I believe this is a decision that will help us.”

A question of time

Jones was in the final year of his contract in 2022, having assumed the position before Maciocia was hired. This indicated that in the event of a poor start to the season, he would be the first to go.

The 51-year-old was tapped into the role less than a week before the start of the 2019 campaign after Mike Sherman was fired. He had maintained an impressive 10-8 record under the circumstances, good for second place in the Eastern Conference this season. However, the Alouettes dropped the flag in the first round of the playoffs.

Jones returned to the collar in 2021 after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. During that shortened season, he went 7-7 and secured the Montreal organization’s third-place finish in the East and another playoff spot. Once again she was shown the exit door in her first game.

Barron Miles too

Head coach Khari Jones wasn’t the only one who lost his job with the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday, as defensive coordinator Barron Miles also left.

The former Canadian Football League (CFL) safety star, who was hired as defensive backs coach in 2020, is very close to Jones.

The Alouettes’ defense has only been dominant once this season. Without being bad, she was terribly lacking in consistency. After four games, she is second-to-last in the league in rushing yards (427) and majors in aerial plays (5).

“We haven’t been able to meet our expectations defensively for two years,” said linebacker Brian Harelimana. We have a great defensive line, great linebackers, and great defensive backs. We’ve never been able to be a dominant defensive end. Maybe we needed this change to become that.”

This change will be embodied by Noel Thorpe, who will replace Miles. The 52-year-old is celebrating another comeback with “Als”, his third engagement in his life. He will take on the role of defensive coordinator and also take care of the defensive backs.

Danny Maciocia: a man of experience

QMI agency

Quebec’s Danny Maciocia, who will take over as head coach of the Montreal Alouettes following the sacking of Khari Jones on Wednesday, is in familiar territory.

The 55-year-old, who spent a decade at the helm of the University of Montreal Carabins, was previously the head coach of the Canadian Football League and in that capacity even won the Gray Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015.

It’s important to remember that Montreal’s general manager Maciocia was also a member of the Alouettes’ coaching staff between 1996 and 2001 before joining the Eskimos, initially as offensive coordinator.

If Maciocia’s presence on the touchline wasn’t the desired scenario, there’s something to reassure. It at least has nothing to do with certain past situations where general manager Kavis Reed took the place of coach Jacques Chapdelaine in September 2017. In previous years, it was Jim Popp whose reputation as a GM was well-established, having served various inconclusive stints as the Alouettes’ head coach. Most recently, he replaced Tom Higgins in 2015 without much success.

In 2003 he won the Gray Cup with the Eskimos for the first time via Maciocia, together with Higgins. After that he was offensive coordinator.

On the varsity scene, Maciocia won the Vanier Cup with the Carabins in November 2014.

“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had in my career. He won everywhere he went. His experience will help us tremendously,” said Alouette linebacker Brian Harelimana, who worked under Maciocia while he was at the Université de Montréal.

– With the collaboration of Philippe Asselin

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