March 17, 2024

Maas: “Winning it all changed everything”

David Kirouac/

TORONTO — Jason Maas knows that things can change really fast in the world of professional football.

The Montreal Alouettes head coach guided his team to a Grey Cup title less than 12 months after being let go as the offensive coordinator of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“To go from being unemployed to a Grey Cup champion in one full year,” said Maas in a conversation with Donnovan Bennett and Henoc Muamba in this week’s edition of The Waggle Podcast. “It’s hard to fathom.”

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Building a successful program can take time and results on the field can take even longer to come to fruition. The Alouettes also brought in a new quarterback in Cody Fajardo during the last off-season, causing everyone to expect growing pains on and off the field.

That was definitely not the case for an Alouettes squad that finally advanced past the Eastern Final (after three straight losses) to capture the 110th Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Maas would’ve been happy with his team regardless of the final outcome.

“Even if we didn’t win this year, I felt like we had a successful season,” said Maas. “I loved our team. Love the way we came together, felt like we built something that was going to be sustainable. We were going to be able to compete for a championship every year with what we had done.

“The icing on the cake was winning it all.”

The Als went 11-7 during the regular season while finishing second in the East Division. Maas’ team then went on to beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Eastern Semi-Final 27-12 before taking down the first-place Toronto Argonauts with a dominant 38-17 win in the Eastern Final. The journey was capped off with an electric 28-24 win over the Bombers in the Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field.

Many players and members of the Alouettes organization were part of the path that led to a parade in Montreal. Maas knows that they will now forever be remembered for their contributions to an epic story.

“One of the things that I was excited for us winning was that those stories over the years are going to be told,” said the head coach. “You will hear about them because we have some amazing stories throughout our whole locker room, not just the star players, there are a lot of guys that went through a lot of things and contributed behind the scenes, in practices, in games.

“Not everybody noticed but we did and it’s going to be neat to have all of this come out.”

Head coach Jason Maas, president and CEO Mark Weightman and general manager Danny Maciocia found immediate success together (The Canadian Press)

Just as everything changed from one off-season to another, Maas is aware that the wheel keeps on turning and turnover is an inevitable truth in the salary-cap era of sports.

“The hardest part about this year is that we finished it having 77 guys take part in our season and not everybody can be around again,” added Maas.

“The team is going to look different. But the culture that we’ve built and are going to continue building will never stop. Our guys know what we’re about, we’re about that hard work mentality. Come in to work every day ready to compete. Playing for someone other than yourself. Playing for the province of Quebec and (the city of) Montreal.”

The Als have been able to bring back many of the key pieces of their championship run, including linebacker Darnell Sankey and defensive lineman Shawn Lemon, but also lost important names like running back William Stanback and defensive back Ciante Evans.

Maas has turned his focus now on putting together the best possible team to compete for a second straight title with the Alouettes, but he knows his journey as a coach that started back in 2012 with the Argonauts will never be the same.

“Getting there and winning it all changed everything. That feeling I have now you have to win it to feel it, to know what’s it about and to know what those other 10, 11 years of coaching were like.”

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