From The Sports Network
By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - It's a tough act to follow.
Back on Feb. 19, the Alouettes announced that 52-year-old Dan Hawkins was the new head coach of the team, replacing Marc Trestman, who accepted the role as head coach of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
In five seasons at the helm, the Als were a sparkling 59-31 in the regular season under Trestman, and in those five seasons made the Grey Cup three times, winning twice.
The last coaching job he had ended in November of 2010, when he was fired from the University of Colorado.
Hawkins, who signed a three-year deal, compiled a 112-61-1 record in the NCAA, including stints with Boise State (2001-05) and Colorado (2006-10).
He led Boise State to four consecutive Western Athletic Conference titles from 2002-05 and wins in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl and 2003 Fort Worth Bowl. For the last two seasons, Hawkins was a college football analyst at ESPN.
"It's football in the States and it's football here," Hawkins said on the eve of training camp. "But it's a whole different brand of football."
One of the changes he brought to the organization, was the addition of 11 assistant coaches, a figure that's unheard of in the CFL. In an interesting move, former Winnipeg head coach Doug Barry is a senior adviser.
Any success that he, and the Alouettes have, will depend on the health and performance of the ageless one, 40-year-old quarterback Anthony Calvillo. The Utah State grad is entering his 20th CFL season, 16th with Montreal. Calvillo threw for 5,082 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2012. He became the first QB in league history to reach 5,000 passing yards seven times in his career.
Calvillo, a Los Angeles native, holds league records of 5,777 completions, 449 touchdown passes and 78,494 passing yards. He won Grey Cups in 2002, 2009 and 2010.
But the question remains with Calvillo... can he stay healthy? In 2012, he suffered a torn labrum in Week 3 that required surgery after the season ended. He also had his thyroid gland removed due to a cancerous lesion at the end of the 2010 season, and prior to that, he suffered a sternum contusion that caused him to miss several games. Yes, he's arguably, the best to ever play the position, but he's also taken more hits in the last few years than he ever did before.
He still has a bevy of good receivers to throw to, including Jamel Richardson (63 catches, 1,016 yards and 5 touchdowns) SJ Green (61 catches, 1,111 yards and 4 touchdowns) and the veteran Arland Bruce, who was released by the BC Lions in the offseason.
Any issues that the Alouettes may have to solve, are on the other side of the ball. Gone is the 3-4 defense that was used last year, which may have explained the 489 points given up by the Als. Only three teams gave up more points than Montreal, all of them in the Eastern Division.
While Montreal has enough veteran presence in the locker room and on the field, there is still a sense that Hawkins may not have an easy adjustment to the CFL game.
He's right. It is a different brand of football. Which makes you wonder if Hawkins may rue the day he decided to leave the comfort of the ESPN studios to come to Canada.
FACTS & FIGURES: Division - East. 2012 record - 11-7, 1st place in East. Playoff result: defeated by Toronto 27-20 in the East Final. Stadium - Molson Stadium. Capacity - 25,012 Colors - Red, White and Blue.
06/10 15:44:03 ET