Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Changes don't click, Alouettes fire coach

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MONTREAL -- Trying to change the "Alouette way" was what got Dan Hawkins fired only five games into his first job as a head coach in the CFL.

With the Montreal Alouettes' once-powerful offence sputtering, general manager Jim Popp announced Thursday that Hawkins was gone and offensive co-ordinator Mike Miller would have a reduced role on the coaching staff.

Popp will step in as head coach for the third time in his 18 years with the club and Hawkins adviser Doug Berry will run the offence.

"I won't get into specifics, but there are some issues that we felt should be moving along quicker than they are," said Popp, who made the decision along with owner Bob Wetenhall. "We feel it's going very slow. We're a veteran team -- we're looking for results now. Hopefully, we can get ourselves back to the Alouette way."

Hawkins was hired Feb. 19 to replace the popular Marc Trestman, who left to become head coach of the NFL's Chicago Bears. In five seasons, Trestman took the Alouettes to three Grey Cup games, winning twice.

The chatty, gung-ho Hawkins was working as a broadcaster after a career coaching U.S. college teams. He was told of the decision by phone Wednesday night and was to meet with Popp on Thursday.

Popp said Hawkins' lack of experience coaching pro players was his undoing. He called him a good coach, but said "the transition hasn't been real smooth."

The Alouettes' only losing season since returning to Montreal after a 10-year hiatus in 1996 was in 2007, the last time Popp took over as coach. This year, they've struggled to a 2-3 start.

The attack, led by all-time CFL passing leader Anthony Calvillo and with 11 of 12 starters back from last season, looked disjointed and tentative as it adjusted to a new approach Hawkins and Miller brought in against the advice of Popp and Calvillo.

"We wanted the coaches to learn the language instead of 12 people having to learn something new," said Popp. "That didn't take place."

Contract going to court

THE CFL Players' Association announced Thursday it's applying for a judicial review of an arbitrator's decision that Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Chris Williams' contract is binding despite being negotiated by an unregistered agent.

Williams, the CFL's top special-teams player last year, went to arbitration requesting a release from the final year of his deal with Hamilton, reportedly so he could pursue NFL offers.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2013 C2

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