The offseason of CFL coaching changes has begun, and it looks like the first one has taken place in Montreal. Coaching Search's Pete Roussel wrote Tuesday that Alouettes' defensive coordinator Jeff Reinebold had been fired, a report that's since been confirmed by Arash Madani, Didier Orméjuste and Moe Khan (Update: and now, the team itself). It's not particularly surprising that Reinebold, a former head coach in Winnipeg, is gone after one season in Montreal; the Alouettes' defence allowed the fourth-most yards, the fifth-most points, and the second-most passing yards against per game, so they certainly weren't an elite unit, plus there were rumours that Reinebold's traditionally free-spirited ways didn't exactly match head coach Marc Trestman's more reserved style, and Montreal's (extremely close) loss to the Argonauts in the East Final suggested change might be on the way. It's going to be interesting to see where the Alouettes go from here, though, especially as their choice seems to be between a safe route and a risky but high-upside one.
Madani suggests the top candidate to take over in Montreal would be former Saskatchewan head coach Greg Marshall (not the Western head coach), and that's certainly plausible. Marshall reportedly discussed the Alouettes' job with Trestman last year, and he certainly has an impressive pedigree; although his head-coaching stint in Saskatchewan didn't work out, Marshall's spent most of the last two decades as a CFL defensive coach and coordinator with Saskatchewan, Edmonton, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Hamilton, and most of those stints went pretty well. A few things could get in the way of a Marshall hire, though. For one, Marshall's still owed another year of salary by Saskatchewan; taking a new job would likely nullify that, so the Alouettes would have to pay him a lot. For another, Marshall's last stint as a defensive coordinator in Hamilton didn't garner universally positive reviews. It's also notable that much of the rest of the Alouettes' coaching staff is young and looking to make their mark on this league; Reinebold didn't seem to really fit with them, and it's not clear that Marshall would be any better. Marshall's also known for being forceful and opinionated, qualities that didn't exactly help Reinebold; does Trestman want to replace one big personality with an extensive CFL past with another one?
If the Alouettes don't go with Marshall, where would they turn? Well, there are intriguing internal candidates, including defensive line coach Mike Sinclair (who just finished his fifth year with the team) and linebackers coach Matt Sheldon (who just finished his first year with the Alouettes, but has extensive NFL experience). There are interesting candidates elsewhere in the league, too; former CFL star Barron Miles has received rave reviews for his work with defensive backs in B.C. and Saskatchewan, as has the Lions' Mark Washington, just to name a few. Trestman also has plenty of connections south of the border in the NCAA and NFL ranks. In the end, it likely depends what the Alouettes are looking for. If they want a proven name and are willing to put up with the cost and the ego, Marshall's the clear choice, and he'd be a reasonably safe one. If they want to gamble a bit more, though, there are plenty of promising guys out there who might turn into terrific DCs. Will the Alouettes turn to Marshall, or are they planning to go further off the board? We'll have to watch and find out.