Jeff Reinebold is roaring down a highway - only this time, there’s no Harley.
The former ‘born-to-be-wild’ once head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is on his way back to Canada to become the new defensive coordinator for the Montreal Alouettes.
However, his mind is not all there. Reinebold’s daughter is in labour, the arrival of his first grandchild is imminent.
His mind is racing, he needs to talk to an old friend – The Don.
“Don Matthews is the biggest branch of my coaching family tree,” says Reinebold, whose own family roots are a remarkable lesson in destiny and devotion.
How Reinebold got the job in Montreal might be as much of a fluke as it was fate. In fact, it’s almost similar to the way he climbed the ranks to become a CFL head coach before he turned 40.
» READ IT: Alouettes defence ready to restore lost hunger
After giving up 52 points in their East Semi-Final loss to Hamilton in 2011, the Als are aiming to restore the hunger they admittedly lacked all year long.
Reinebold admits that football was certainly not the first choice of his parents.
“My ‘Dr. Phil’ diagnosis,” he says. “I’m a coach because of my Dad but I chose football because I wanted my own thing.”
Reinebold denies he is a coaching guru.
“No, there are no gurus. Gurus live in caves and teach yoga.”
The 54-year old has roamed from Europe to Hawaii to Texas before winning the job of re-inventing an Alouette defence that was scorched by Hamilton in the Eastern Semi-Final last November.
But long before even Matthews ever gave him opportunity in three-down football, the scrawny son of a legendary high school baseball coach told his mother he was trying out for his high school football team.
“My mother calls football ‘that stupid game.’ I needed her permission to play so she made a deal with the coach who promised to cut me before I got hurt.”
Reinebold made the team. Defying the odds is a family trait.
Jim Reinebold, Jeff’s father, happened to be at a sports-dinner where Charlie O. Finley, the outlandish owner of the Oakland A’s was also speaking.
The eccentric executive who would pay bonus money for players who grew moustaches and have ace relievers ride to the mound on a donkey could be stubborn as a mule when he played a hunch.
So when the Reinebold family phone rang weeks later, Jim was sure it was a buddy playing a prank. It was actually Charlie O. calling to hire Reinebold.
After 30 years in pro baseball for the Athletics, Cubs, Pirates and Diamondbacks, Jeff’s father is still consulting while trying his best to brush back the ill effects of Parkinson’s disease.
“My Dad can teach unbelievably, but it all came from a one chance speaking engagement.”
Unlike his father, Reinebold the younger is not one to wait for the phone to ring. Truth is, he made the call to Marc Trestman asking about the vacant Als’ defensive coordinator job.
That too was a matter of fluke or fate.
“I ran into (Scott) Milanovich and (Jonathan) Himebauch, at a coaches conference and they asked me if I’d ever consider a return to the CFL,” he said.
Then they slipped him Trestman’s number.
“I have a deep love of the game, the league, the players and the comraderie,” says Reinebold, who admits he’s older and wiser than the flip-flop-wearing sideline head-coaching dude he came off as in Manitoba.
“Then again, I always was a church boy compared to Jerry Glanville (who would leave tickets for Elvis at will call). When you’re that age (Reinebold was a head coach at 39) I never worried about how things were going to be perceived. I enjoy life and people and I always gave honest answers.”
Reinebold was used to being the young upstart.
Another twist of fate had landed him his first job in the pros on Bob O’Billovich’s Lions staff in 1991.
He was younger than Kevin Konar, one of his players.
Rick Moffat is the Voice of the Montreal Alouettes on CJAD 800. He works alongside former CFL Dave Mudge. Moffat's first attended Grey Cup was as a fan in '77 - the infamous Tony Proudfoot "Staple Game". Rick is proud to say he had his first beer at an Als' game during the Marv Levy Era. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickMoffat.
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