Corey Mace summed it up in the simplest of terms, “Somebody once said to me that if you like who you work with and you’re successful, why leave?”
It was announced on Friday that the affable defensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts has reached a contract extension with the team, meaning the Argos now have their head coach/offensive coordinator (Ryan Dinwiddie), their defensive coordinator (Mace) and their special teams coordinator (Mickey Donovan) all under contract for the 2024 season.
“The most important thing for myself is enjoying who you work with,” Mace told Argonauts.ca. “RD’s (Dinwiddie’s) done a great job of putting together a heck of a staff. The defensive side of the ball, specifically, we work extremely well together. I trust those guys with everything, they’re all brainy too, so it makes it easy to come to work to work with guys not only in my room but across the board, we’re a really tight-knit group.”
Whatever they’ve been doing as a staff has been working.
The Double Blue “D” leads the league with 54 sacks and 42 takeaways. They’re first in the CFL, allowing just 79.6 rushing yards per game, and just 4.2 yards per carry, also a league best. They’ve allowed just 20 big plays against – seven fewer than second-best BC – and the Argos are second in the league in points allowed per game at 21.4, just 0.2 points per game more than Winnipeg.
With those numbers and an overall record of 13-2, life is pretty good.
There is little to no question that Mace will be a CFL head coach someday. His knowledge of the game is strong, his people skills are top notch, and his players respect him and respond to him.
He is, however, quite happy with his current situation, knowing there will be head coaching opportunities down the road.
“I think a lot of the coaches that are in this profession, that’s a goal of theirs, it’s certainly a goal of mine.” he said. “I plan to be doing this for quite some time, and if an opportunity comes up that makes sense for myself and my family, then it’s something you’d consider. But myself and my family, we’re extremely (emphasis his) happy here in Toronto and super happy to be around the guys in the locker room and the guys in the office.”
His road to Toronto has been a relatively direct one. After playing in the CFL and NFL for nine years, the Vancouver native began his coaching career in Calgary. He’d spend six seasons there as their defensive line coach before being hired by the Argos in ‘22 to become their defensive coordinator/defensive line coach.
Not quite here for two full seasons, it’s hard to argue with his success in Toronto, winning a Grey Cup – his third – in his first year here, and now being just an Eastern Final win away from getting back to the championship game.
Since he’s used to constantly evaluating players, Argonauts.ca asked Mace to turn the tables and do a self-evaluation. How has he progressed since taking over the job at the beginning of last year?
“I’m more comfortable in the position,” he explained. “I’m always expanding my brain to learn more about the game and also being able to learn more about what we can do with the players that we have. It’s football, so it’s a rotational door, so to speak, but having the continuity that we’ve had makes it easy to build off what we’ve got, which gives confidence not only to the players, but to myself as well.”
Mace has been able to cram a lot of memories into less that two seasons. Not surprisingly, when asked about his highlight here, his top memory came from a cold night in Regina last year.
“It’s hard to say no to the Grey Cup,” he said with a smile, before elaborating on a specific part of the celebration. “What was unique for me about the Grey Cup last year as opposed to the other ones was that I really just took it in for the players. I think that now, having a little wider scope on the work that everybody does, I was extremely happy to see that come to fruition for the players. That was important to me. The staff, win lose or draw, we’re always a tight-knit group, regardless, but you get that every day. That reminds me this is a great spot.”
And it will be for a little longer, thanks to his new deal.