Since first joining the Montreal Alouettes in 1998 as a backup quarterback, Calvillo has been forced to endure seven head coaching changes, witnessing both success and failure from his usual spot in the Als’ offensive backfield.
Names such as Dave Ritchie, Charlie Taaffe, Rod Rust, Jim Popp (twice), Don Matthews and Marc Trestman have all come and gone in Montreal, but the one thing that has remained consistent all these years has been the presence of Calvillo, who comes equipped with undying support for whoever is calling the shots on the sidelines at Percival-Molson Stadium.
It’s for that reason that newly-appointed head coach Dan Hawkins should have very little trouble adjusting to life in La Belle Province.
“I’m all in,” said Calvillo.
“I’ve trusted Mr. Wetenhall and Jim Popp every time they’ve brought in a new head coach. And now it’s our turn as players to buy in to what (Dan Hawkins) is going to bring to the table and try not to compare it too much to what our last coach did,” he added.
On the surface, the comparisons between Hawkins and Marc Trestman seem few and far between. During his introductory press conference on Tuesday in downtown Montreal, Hawkins gave off the appearance of being an enthusiastic and vocal coach, while Trestman often displayed a rather reserved yet stern approach to the game.
“It’s night and day, especially from the media aspect,” Calvillo said.
“Every coach is different and you can see that Dan is definitely going to be different in terms of he talks to (the media) and how he addresses us in the locker room,” he added.
What matters most to Calvillo, however, is how Hawkins performs on the sidelines – not in front of reporters.
In the upcoming CFL season, the veteran pivot will turn 41 years old, which is why it’s hard to believe both he and Hawkins will be looking to re-invent the wheel.
“The one thing I’ve learned is that whatever the offensive coach brings in, I’m going to do my best and run it,” said Calvillo.
“When Marc Trestman was hired, he had some questions when he was developing the playbook about certain plays and I’m sure I’m going to get the same questions from our new coaching staff. I’ll give them my input, but I’m still a player, I want to be taught,” he added.
Taking on the role as Calvillo’s new ‘teacher’ will be Montreal’s new Offensive Coordinator Mike Miller, who arrives in Montreal following a seven-year stay with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, most recently serving as their offensive boss.
Miller takes over for Marcus Brady, who left Montreal for an opportunity to work under former Alouettes offensive coordinator turned Argos head coach Scott Milanovich, a man well known for taking Calvillo’s career to the next level.
The positive and constructive relationship between Calvillo and Milanovich played a massive role in the former’s increased production, which is why Calvillo believe it’s important to start developing a bond with Miller.
“That’s going to build up, it’s going to start today,” said Calvillo.
“I spoke to both Mike and Dan on the phone during the interview process and now it’s a matter of sitting down and working on the Xs and Os,” he continued.
“They’ve been around this business a long time, they know how to deal with quarterbacks and I know how to deal with coaches and I’m just looking forward to building that relationship.”
Miller is on the same page as his future Hall of Fame quarterback, knowing full well that success on offence in the CFL stems from the man throwing the ball.
“The thing that pulls it all together is the quarterback, so we’re fortunate to come into a situation where AC is here,” said Miller.
“The resume he’s put together is very impressive and from getting to talk to him already, you get the impression that he’s an even better person than he is a player and that says a lot,” he added.
Hawkins, Miller and Trestman better get to work fast on developing their rapport, as training camps across the CFL kick off in just over three months.
However, both Hawkins and Miller agreed that while they might be behind in their work compared to other coaching staffs in the league, they feel little to no pressure to find immediate success on the gridiron, especially in a market that has grown accustom to winning like Montreal.
“You feel pressure each week to do that regardless, it’s nothing I’m not accustomed to,” said Miller.