Popp canned: Pinball Clemons takes helm as Argos part ways with GM
A two-win team coming off the worst beating arguably in the history of the club, the Argos had to do something other than tweak their roster.
They did so Tuesday morning by relieving GM Jim Popp of his duties, a move that should surprise no one familiar with the plight of this once-proud football organization.
The team confirmed Popp’s has been replaced by Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons. The Argos legend, who played 12 seasons with the Boatmen and served twice as head coach, is the 20th GM in team history. John Murphy, who was hired by Popp, was named vice-president of player personnel.
“This season has made it clear that this team is lacking the identity and culture that have brought a record number of Grey Cups to Toronto and change was necessary to put the Argos back on the path to a championship,” Argos president Bill Manning said in a release Tuesday.
“Michael Clemons is the Toronto Argonauts personified and bleeds Double Blue. His passion for this team and this city, and his championship pedigree, will have a profound impact on the direction of this team moving forward. Today is a first, but important, step to address that issue and we are confident that Michael will unite this team towards our championship goal.”
Popp was dead man walking following Toronto’s embarrassing 55-8 loss to the host B.C. Lions on Saturday night, a setback that officially eliminated the Argos from post-season contention.
His contract expired after the season and there was no way he would survive a second straight disastrous season.
The club parted ways with head coach Marc Trestman following last year’s four-win debacle.
Oddly enough, many in the media were trumpeting the arrival of Trestman and Popp as some reunion of football’s dream team when in reality no tandem is credible without a legitimate quarterback.
Luckily for Popp and Trestman, the Argos had Ricky Ray, a move made by then-GM Jim Barker.
Without Ray, the Argos have been leaderless.
One can make the same argument for the entire organization because it has no football individual at the top.
With all due respect to Manning, his only connection to football came when he worked for the Philadelphia Eagles back in the day.
His most pressing duties involves Toronto FC.
Popp, sources will tell you, was not willing to trade any quarterback other than James Franklin. The CFL’s trade deadline kicks in Wednesday.
No team in the league wants the disappointing Franklin, who threw for only 32 yards against the Leos, but there has been interest in McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Popp’s time was clearly up, but not many thought the rug would be pulled on the eve of a trade deadline.
Manning fired Trestman in the hours following last year’s season finale when the Argos laid an egg against Ottawa’s B team.
There was a huge disconnect between Popp and Trestman and Manning put his faith in Popp.
Given the amount of money Popp and Trestman were making, roughly in the combined $1.5-million range, there was no chance both would be let go.
If money wasn’t an issue, both should have been relieved.
Once a new management team is in place, there’s no telling what the future holds for head coach Corey Chamblin, who has to take some of the responsibility for this year’s debacle.
The Argos have been a mess for two years and Tuesday’s firing of Popp only adds to the stench.
For this franchise to ever be taken seriously, club owners MLSE must install a legitimate, CFL-proven football official to oversee the Argos as president and not continue this charade of having one guy serve two franchises.
Popp and Trestman should never have been hired in the first place.
The Argos were lucky to win a Grey Cup two years ago and they’ve been paying for it ever since.
No quarterback developed or acquired, no money to hire qualified coaches, players asked to take paycuts, in some cases on more than a few occasions — it’s been a joke for far too long, only no one is laughing when instead fans are turning their backs on the Argos given their play.
The decision to part ways with Popp was an easy one, one that was expected.
The hard work begins.