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How quickly things change: Milanovich surprised to be able to hire “top-of-list” Brady

Argos' head coach Scott Milanovich just brought in Marcus Brady, another former Montreal coach.

From what's come out so far, it looks like the Toronto Argonauts' hiring of Marcus Brady as offensive coordinator isn't going to be anywhere near as controversial as the last coordinator they nabbed. Bill Beacon of The Canadian Press reported that Montreal general manager Jim Popp isn't miffed about Brady's departure, and it came out on a conference call Monday with Brady and Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich that Brady's contract with Montreal expired at the end of November. Thus, this isn't close to the tampering charge the Argonauts got stuck with in the Chris Jones case; it doesn't look like the team did anything wrong here. However, there still are plenty of questions about why Brady decided to take the job as Toronto's OC now, a year after he turned it down to stay in Montreal. It turns out Brady called Milanovich after his deal in Montreal expired, and Milanovich admitted Monday he wasn't expecting Brady to be available.

"It was a little surprising," Milanovich said.

Milanovich said the call made his search for an offensive coordinator much simpler, though.

"When Marcus called, the decision was very easy for me," Milanovich said. "He was at the top of my list a year ago."

Milanovich said Brady's availability dramatically sped up his timetable.

"Honestly, I wasn't anticipating having the process done until January."

Milanovich served as the Argonauts' head coach and offensive coordinator in 2012 following Jonathan Himebauch's departure for the NCAA, and he said he wanted to give the offensive coordinator's role for 2013 to someone else in order to be able to more completely oversee the team instead of focusing his efforts mostly on offence.

"I didn't have as much of a presence in special teams and defensive meetings," he said.

Milanovich said he and Brady are still going to figure out an exact division of responsibilities, but having someone he's worked with before will certainly help.

"He's going to take some things off my plate, that's for sure," Milanovich said.

He said he envisions calling offensive plays himself early on in the 2013 campaign, but eventually handing that responsibility over to Brady.

"At some point, I want to pass that torch to Marcus."

CJAD's Rick Moffat reported Monday that the Alouettes were interested in bringing Brady back rather than hiring their third offensive coordinator in three seasons, but Brady said Toronto was his first choice this offseason. Brady said he called Milanovich a day after his Montreal contract expired at the end of November.

"The next morning, in December, I gave Scott a call to see if there was any interest," he said.

While Brady's tenure as a coach has been quite promising so far, he never had much of a chance to show what he could do as a quarterback in the CFL. After setting school records at FCS (then Division I-AA) Cal State Northridge (interestingly, those records may stand forever, as the school dropped football in 2001), Brady signed with Toronto in 2002 with plenty of hype. However, he wound up backing up Damon Allen, then going to Hamilton and backing up Danny McManus, then going to Montreal and backing up Anthony Calvillo before retiring in 2009 and becoming the Alouettes' receiving coach. Brady said Monday that there seemed to be Hall-of-Famers or future Hall-of-Famers everywhere he went as a player, and he's excited to work with Ricky Ray, another quarterback he puts in that latter category.

"I seem to be attracted to Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks," he said. "I'm excited for the challenge of continuing Ricky Ray's success."

Brady said he doesn't have regrets about his playing career.

"My past has gotten me where I am," he said.

However, there are still questions about why he chose Montreal over Toronto despite making the opposite decision a year ago. Brady confirmed Monday that he was offered the Argonauts' job following Milanovich's hire after the 2011 season, but elected to stay with the Alouettes.

"At that moment in time, I made the decision that it was best for myself and my family to stay in Montreal," he said.

Brady said the main thing that attracted him to Toronto was the chance to work with Milanovich again.

"He was my mentor as I made the transition from player to coach," Brady said.

Brady didn't really expand on what changed for him from 2011 to 2012, and it's curious that he was only on a one-year deal in Montreal. Something obviously did change, though, and the reports that the Alouettes wanted him back suggests it may have been a change on his end, not the team's. Whatever the rationale, Montreal's loss may well be Toronto's gain. Brady led an impressive Alouettes' offence in 2012 despite a slew of injuries to key players such as Brandon Whitaker, and there's every reason to believe he'll be successful working with a familiar head coach and a familiar offensive system. The Argonauts' solid 2012 season and remarkable Grey Cup victory also suggests that Montreal's offensive dominance over the last several years wasn't all about Marc Trestman, Anthony Calvillo, Jamel Richardson and company; similar principles have proven to work just fine with Milanovich, Ray and receivers like Chad Owens and Andre Durie. If Brady can work with Milanovich to continue that success, 2013 may be another great year for Toronto. Meanwhile, only days after replacing one coordinator, the Alouettes now have to start a search for another one.

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