March 5, 2024

Cauz: My ultimate all-current CFL coach/executive roster

Kevin Sousa/

While working on my past couple columns I was reminded of just how many familiar faces that used to dominate as players had transitioned to a wide variety of coaching and executive roles across Canada.

There are All-Stars and Hall of Famers littered all over the organization charts on every CFL team.

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It got me thinking: if I put together a star-laden roster comprised strictly of ex-players currently working within the nine CFL franchise just how good a team would it be?

I say this with complete modesty, this group is going 20-0.


QB: Anthony Calvillo (Montreal Alouettes offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach)

There is an absolute embarrassment of riches at quarterback. I had to turn away Hall of Famers like Danny McManus and Dave Dickenson. The easiest part of this entire exercise was selecting a former Grey Cup MVP who has thrown for more passing yards and touchdowns than anyone else in the history of the CFL.

By the way, I could not find any former punters in my research but with the offence I’m throwing out there shall be no need for punting.

RUNNING BACK | Pinball Clemons (Toronto Argonauts general manager)

I know we think of Pinball as one of the games greatest returners ever, who twice put up 1000+ yard receiving seasons, but when called upon he could assume the role of lead running back finishing with over 5,300 rushing yards. This offence is going to put up 40 points a game.

RECEIVER | Jason Tucker (BC Lions receivers coach)

Calvillo may be bitter targeting the man who won the 2003 Grey Cup MVP in the win over the Alouettes but I’m sure he will get over it as Tucker repeatedly gets open deep.

RECEIVER | Geroy Simon (Edmonton Elks assistant general manager)

No need for a long resume reminder, the guy is the all-time leader in receiving yards. Am I being modest saying we’ll only score 40 a game?

RECEIVER | Nik Lewis: (Calgary Stampeders receivers coach)


Have you wondered what a passing attack would look like if you paired up the all-time receiving leader (Simon) with the all-time receptions leader? Well, we’re about to find out with Lewis checking in.

With his frame, Lewis will also be expected to help out chip blocking blitzing linebackers and will be Calvillo’s prime red zone target. You know what, let’s get rid of field goal kickers as well.

RECEIVER | Ed Hervey (Hamilton Tiger-Cats general manager)

This is our second prolific receiver from Edmonton who was twice on the winning side of the Grey Cup over Calvillo’s Alouettes. Hervey retired with nearly 7,000 yards and will enjoy more single coverage than he ever did at any time of his eight-year career.

RECEIVER | Marquay McDaniel (Saskatchewan Roughriders receivers coach)

Here is how dominant our receivers room is: the “least” decorated player had over 7,300 yards, 27 touchdowns, went over 1,000 yards twice and was a CFL All-Star in 2013. My apologies to the running backs, but I couldn’t find many former All-Stars in the league’s coaching ranks.

CENTRE | Jeremy O’Day (Saskatchewan Roughriders VP of football operations general manager)

O’Day started over 200 regular season games with Saskatchewan and would earn six Division All-Star nods. He was a part of the 2007 team that defeated Winnipeg 23-19 in the Grey Cup that year.

GUARD | Edwin Harrison (Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive line coach)

Harrison played for the Calgary Stampeders from 2010-2015 and won a Grey Cup with the Stamps in 2014. On that day Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 334 yards and was not sacked once.

GUARD | Kelly Bates (BC Lions offensive line coach)

Kelly’s CFL career spanned nearly a decade mostly with the Lions where he earned a CFL All-Star selection in 2007. Fun fact: it was Bates who accidentally broke the Grey Cup trophy during the Lions celebrations after winning the 94th Grey Cup over Montreal.

Wow, there are a lot of players on my team who burned a lot of calories to ensure Calvillo “only” won four championships.

TACKLE | Luc Brodeur-Jourdain (Montreal Alouettes offensive line coach)

The last player selected in the 2008 CFL Draft has a place on my team. Luc played 11 CFL seasons and won two Cups with the Alouettes. For all you offensive line purists out there, I know, he spent much of his career at centre, but I already have O’Day slotted at that position.

I have no doubt Brodeur-Jourdain will make the necessary adjustment to slide over. What is with all these former centres now coaching? It’s almost like being in charge of pointing out potential blitzers and changing protection schemes on the fly translates to a future in coaching.

TACKLE | Dominic Picard (Toronto Argonauts running backs coach)

Listen, get off my back, I know Picard also played centre, but I’m not concerned. Calvillo will be getting rid of the ball consistently in under 2.5 seconds. Also, Picard saw it all in his 11-year career playing in 151 regular season games, 11 more in the post-season, winning a Grey Cup and was a named an East Division All-Star in 2011.


DEFENSIVE END | John Bowman (BC Lions defensive line coach)

Kicking off the defensive side of the ball in Hall of Fame style with the Alouettes all-time leader in sacks with 134.

DEFENSIVE END | Demetrious Maxie (Toronto Argonauts defensive line coach)

Instead of listing Maxie’s impressive credentials, I’ll just quote part of his Twitter bio: #Champion #EliminateTheRun #HitTheQB. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE  | Corey Mace (Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach)

Corey Mace was named the Riders head coach in November after spending two seasons as the Argonauts defensive coordinator (

I’m glad Mace is currently a head coach because I’m going to need him to do what he will be preaching on a daily basis: sacrifice individual statistics for the betterment of the team.

With so many formidable linebacker options I’m going with a three-man defensive line. Mace’s job will be to engage two linemen on every play freeing up the teammate behind him to make plays. It’s a dirty job but one this former tackle will embrace.

LINEBACKER | Kevin Eiben (Toronto Argonauts linebackers coach)

We often thrown around the “tackling machine” cliché but in the case of Eiben, this title fits the five-time All-Star. Kevin still has the Canadian record for single season tackles and is second all-time for career tackles by a Canadian to another player coming up in a moment.

LINEBACKER | Juwan Simpson (Calgary Stampeders defensive line coach)

The only positional group more accomplished than my linebackers are the ridiculous receivers we got going. Like I did with Marquay McDaniel, these linebackers are so good that the 2010 finalist for the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award could be considered the “weak” link of the bunch. He would be a star on any current CFL squad but wow, this position is well represented in the 2024 coaching fraternity.

LINEBACKER | J.C. Sherritt (Saskatchewan Roughriders linebackers coach and run game coordinator)

See! What did I tell you about how stacked we are at this position! J.C. was part of the last great run for Edmonton. Sherritt had a massive impact on this game in just 109 career games. The 2012 Most Outstanding Defensive Player was a terror all over the field.

COVER LINEBACKER | Mike O’Shea (Winnipeg Blue Bombers … Oh you know!)

This is the one Canadian with more tackles than Eiben. Find me a defender on this group that has seen more than O’Shea with his 271 regular season games and nearly 20 more in the post-season. O’Shea won three Grey Cups, was a Division All-Star five times and kicked off his Hall of Fame career by winning the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award. Good luck trying to fool him on the field.

CORNERBACK | Jordan Younger (Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive coordinator)

A lockdown corner for the Toronto Argonauts for eight seasons, Younger’s final game was captain of the Argonauts defence that held Calgary to six points at the half and went on to win 35-22.

CORNERBACK | Richie Hall (Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive assistant)

This list needed some players who didn’t just retire in the past decade. I had to get a bit of “vintage” on my roster. Here is how you know Richie was excellent at his job. Back in 1990, Hall was voted as the Roughriders’ Most Popular Player. In the gloriously passionate world of Saskatchewan football to win this honour is the equivalent of three MOP Awards.

HALFBACK | Ryan Phillips (BC Lions defensive coordinator and assistant head coach)


Here’s a little tip the next time you find yourself in the middle of a BC Lions trivia night at your favourite local pub. If the question is about “Lions defensive records” and “interceptions”, there is 86% chance the correct answer is “Ryan Phillips.”

HALFBACK | Barron Miles (Ottawa REDBLACKS defensive coordinator)

Barron gets my vote for most decorated defensive player that fans may forget just how great he was. In half of Miles’ dozen years, he was named a CFL All-Star. The man was a part of two Grey Cup winning teams, had 66 interceptions and is the all-time leader in blocked kicks. I admit this may be recency bias but I’m voting Miles as the most under-appreciated Hall of Famer.

SAFETY | Orlondo Steinauer (Hamilton Tiger-Cats president of football operations)

The man travelled the equivalent of over 11 CFL football fields in interception return yards (1,178 total yards). Steinauer’s career is similar to Mike O’Shea’s. Both were at the top of their respective positions, from 1998 until 2007. Steinhauer was named a CFL All-Star five tmes and both he and O’Shea won Grey Cups in Toronto and Hamilton. Think of Steinauer as the defensive back version of O’Shea.

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