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Several people were mentioned. All were viable candidates to fill the head coaching vacancy with the Toronto Argonauts. In virtually every discussion about possible successors to Marc Trestman, one name seemed to creep to the forefront; Corey Chamblin.
Less than a month after the hunt began, the Argos got their man.
General Manager Jim Popp and Chamblin agreed to terms late last week, while the deal was formally announced Monday afternoon at a news conference at BMO Field.
The 44th Head Coach in Argo history had been in serious conversation with the organization for roughly three weeks, but they were able to hammer out an agreement after an intense interview process.
“It was pretty thorough,” he told Argonauts.ca. “I’d been up here a couple of times, met with the ownership, it wasn’t just ‘Hey, come to town, shake hands and get it done.’ There had to be a lot of work done from both sides, but I’m excited that we were able to get something done.”
Argonauts General Manager Jim Popp was able to get an early jump on discussions with his new coach. Chamblin was coaching at the University of Arkansas and wasn’t under a CFL contract, so Popp didn’t have to wait until the league mandated guideline of waiting 48 hours after the Grey Cup to talk to any current CFL coaches.
“Corey was a guy we had pinpointed as one of our top ten candidates,” Popp told Argonauts.ca. “We were able to contact him before any other candidate. We had a great dialogue, we had a great relationship when he was here as our defensive coordinator.”
With the off-field work complete, Chamblin can focus on re-tooling a team that’s just one year removed from a Grey Cup. Winning the CFL title is not a foreign concept to the Birmingham, Alabama native, who won titles as the Calgary Stampeders Defensive Backs Coach in 2008, the Head Coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2013, and the Toronto Argonauts Defensive Coordinator in 2017.
The past few months were spent with the NCAA’s University of Arkansas Razorbacks, a chance for the coach to cleanse his CFL palate. He learned several things being re-immersed in four-down football.
“I learned more about game management and clock management,” admitted the Tennessee Tech product. “I learned different ways to do things defensively, and I learned about the up-and-coming generation and how they think, how they need to be coached.”
Chamblin expanded on that.
“Back in the day if a coach told a guy to do something he did it,” he explained. “Athletes today have so much information available you have to give them the why they’re doing it so they can fulfil their task.”
Chamblin is regarded as a players’ coach, something that could bode well for the organization when the free agency period opens on February 12th. He possesses an intangible quality that brings out the best in his players.
So how would he define ‘Corey Chamblin football?’
“It’s about winning all day, every day in all that you do,” said the 2013 CFL Coach of the Year. “That’s on the field, that’s off the field. It’s just about having that mindset that anytime we take the field we’ve got to win, whether it’s a rep, whether it’s a period, whatever it may be. We have to put a winning product on the field.”
That’s something he knows how to do, and something the fan base is longing for after a disappointing 2017. Chamblin’s message to the fans is simple.
“It’s not about words, it’s about action,” relayed the coach to Argo fans. “On a daily basis we have to do the things that we need to do to be able to reach that common purpose. That’s our mindset. We’ll do that and in turn doing that we look to produce positive results on a game-by-game basis.”
Chamblin has work to do. He needs to sort out his coaching staff. He has to get a playbook ready for his D, something he says won’t be very deep. He’ll have to coordinate with Popp which areas he’s like to upgrade in terms of personnel.
“We’re not far off,” proclaimed the G.M., “Corey is a guy who has been a successful coach. He understands the league.”
The Argos have now made the biggest off-season decision on their agenda, one that will no doubt be well received by players and fans alike. There is but one question that remains for all involved – is it June yet?