Back to the sidelines: Als name Higgins head coach | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League Staff

MONTREAL -- Tom Higgins is moving back downstairs.

Monday, Montreal Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall announced that Tom Higgins has been named the franchise's 21st Head Coach.

"As I've expressed to the media in recent weeks, I wanted to continue with the formula which has brought us the success we've enjoyed these past 17 years; having a full-time Head Coach and a full-time General Manager to fill each of these positions," declared Wetenhall.

"The criteria we established for our next head coach was to find an individual familiar with the CFL; someone with success in that position and a background as a position coach. In addition, we sought an individual with a record for molding and delivering championship teams. In Tom's seven years as a head coach he won three Division Championships along with a Grey Cup, and twice earned recognition as the CFL's Coach of the Year. His head coaching record of 72-53-1 speaks for itself. We welcome Tom to the Alouettes family."

Higgins is entering his 23rd season as a CFL coach with additional years as an administrator. He began his CFL coaching career in 1985 as an assistant with the Calgary Stampeders. Prior to joining the Stampeders, he served three years on the coaching staff at the University of Calgary, working for Canadian Football Hall of Fame coach Peter Connellan and helping the Dinos to the 1983 Vanier Cup.

In 1994, Higgins moved to the Edmonton Eskimos as Assistant General Manager; assuming the title of General Manager and COO in 1997. In 2001, he began a four-year tenure in the dual capacity of Eskimos' General Manager and Head Coach.

In 2005, he returned to Calgary as the Stampeders' Head Coach, a position he held for three seasons. In 2008, Tom joined the CFL head office as Director of Officiating, stepping down from the post after the 2013 season.

Higgins played as a linebacker and defensive tackle at North Carolina State from 1973-75, before playing professionally with the Stampeders, Buffalo Bills and Saskatchewan Roughriders prior to launching his coaching career.

He was an all-ACC selection at defensive tackle in 1975, and was also a four-year member of the Wolfpack wrestling team, winning the ACC heavyweight championship in 1976.

"Tom is highly respected throughout the CFL and across Canada," said Mark Weightman, President and CEO of the Alouettes.

"He is known as a great teacher, and as someone who holds himself to the same high standards he does his players. His body of work as a player, Head Coach, GM and senior league official reflects his contribution to the CFL. Tom has worked with and tutored many of the CFL's finest quarterbacks - Doug Flutie, Henry Burris and Ricky Ray to mention a few. His expertise will be invaluable in the development of Troy Smith and Tanner Marsh."

Fan Comments
What do we know?

We know that Popp seems to have wanted to continue as both GM and HC. We know he has a year left on his contract, but the Wetenhalls have released people from their contracts if they were heading south.

We know that the owner decided to choose the new head coach himself, and against hiring Popp as both GM and coach.

We know that Popp has been active as a GM, talking with Scott Flory about different roles quite recently. But Jim is not part of this announcement and not available for comment. We know that the President of the club says that Popp will fulfill his year's contract.

That is what we know without speculation. It is very unusual for a GM not to participate in the hiring of a coach. It is also getting very late in the year.

February 25, 2014 - 8:15am
What we know now is that it looks like Jim Popp and Tom Higgins are going to be able to work together. They are both professionals, and although disagreements may occur, I think it is going to be a good season. Bring it on!
February 25, 2014 - 5:26pm
Wow. Good luck Tom. No AC, no Cahooooon. It's going to be an interesting year.
February 25, 2014 - 5:52am
good choice.
February 24, 2014 - 11:27pm
Whoa, didn't see this one coming!! Will be interesting to see if Ned Flanders is a good fit in Birdland!!
February 24, 2014 - 9:02pm
Good choice by the Als this late in the off season. A vet of the CFL who just wanted and deserved another chance to be a HC. Jim Popp should be happy he does not HAVE TO hope another coach will learn the CFL game on the fly like Hawkins tried to do. Both he and Higgins should make a great team if they work together and just do the jobs their paid to do.
February 24, 2014 - 8:40pm
als rule
I just opened my computer to find this news!! my reaction SHOCKED!! SURPRISED!! not that higgins is a bad choice just out of the blue for me!! where was GM jim popp?!! has a rift broken out between popp and Mr. Robert Wetenhall?!! length HC higgins has signed for? looking at higgins now it's hard to believe he played DT as slim as he is now!! can't be a worse choice then hawkins was last year, NOW CAN IT NOW!!
February 24, 2014 - 7:35pm
Agree that it seems a bit surprising but it absolutely CAN'T be as bad a hire as Hawkins was! More surprising is that Wetenhall apparently made this hire and there is no mention of Popp. Did the Hawkins hire make BW lose his trust in Popp's judgement in hiring a HC?
February 25, 2014 - 12:00pm
als rule
@TFmcb: your wetenhall vs. popp comment is sorry wrong totally incorrect!! you just have to read the stories post the annoucement of higgins becoming the als HC!!
February 28, 2014 - 7:50pm
Ron Murphy
Well I must say this one caught me by surprise. The choice however, is a good one. He knows the game, is a well respected individual and should have a successful coaching career. Good luck Tom.
February 24, 2014 - 4:49pm
Any truth to the rumor that Higgins is not happy with this choice?
February 24, 2014 - 4:27pm
Do you mean Popp? Presumably Higgins would be happy with his own choice.
February 24, 2014 - 4:25pm
I meant I heard Popp is not happy with this choice.
February 24, 2014 - 6:25pm
What rumour?
One can speculate in various ways, but we don't know anything. The team still needs to hire an OC. Does it also have to hire a new GM?
February 24, 2014 - 7:17pm
wild horse
Not one of my favorites, but I'm willing to wait and see how he does. Popp belongs upstairs where he is at his best.
February 24, 2014 - 4:27pm