For several months, we've been following the rumours that Montreal Alouettes' head coach Marc Trestman (pictured, right, at his post-Grey Cup press conference this year) might be heading south of the border to take over the head coaching job at his alma mater. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers were widely expected to fire head coach Tim Brewster this season, which they eventually did, kicking off a wide-ranging head coaching search.
Trestman was only one of the head coaching candidates mentioned at first, but many of the other big names fell out of the running or removed themselves from the process, raising the likelihood the Gophers might look north. Today, it appears that isn't going to happen, as ESPN's Joe Schaad is reporting that they've elected to go with Northern Illinois coach Jerry Kill.
Trestman heading south of the border was obviously never a lock, but many factors combined to suggest that it might happen. With back-to-back Grey Cups on his resume, it seems unlikely further time in the CFL is going to dramatically boost his stock, and most people won't often pass up a chance to potentially triple their salary. He grew up in Minnesota and played quarterback for the Gophers, so there were school and area ties to take into consideration as well. Trestman's been successful at every level he's coached at, but he hadn't worked in the NCAA for quite a while, so there were questions about his ability to take over there; it's unknown how much interest he actually had in the Minnesota job and how much interest they had in him, though.
It doesn't seem too likely that another NCAA team would go after Trestman, as the alumni connection was definitely one of the reasons his name came up at Minnesota. North Carolina coach Butch Davis is on a bit of a hot seat regarding a wide-ranging agent scandal, though, and that's a job that definitely might make some sense if it became open. However, Trestman's relative lack of NCAA experience does seem likely to work against him.
This doesn't necessarily mean that Trestman will be back for another CFL season, though. Much of his recent coaching experience is as a highly-touted offensive coach in the NFL, including the time he spent leading the high-powered Oakland Raiders' offence to the 2003 Super Bowl. He's also had two different stints with the Minnesota Vikings (as a quarterbacks coach and a running backs coach), and they fired Brad Childress earlier this season; interim coach Leslie Frazier looks likely to take over there on a permanent basis, but you never know. Trestman also has strong North Carolina connections (he was an offensive coordinator at North Carolina State recently and still lives in Raleigh during the offseason), and there are plenty of rumours that Carolina Panthers coach John Fox (whose team fell to 1-11 with today's blowout by Seattle) may not be long for the NFL; there also could be several other NFL jobs open by the end of the year. It certainly doesn't seem too likely Trestman will stay north of the border long-term, as Herb Zurkowsky pointed out in this piece from Grey Cup week:;
Where will this all lead? Probably back to the U.S. Trestman is being linked to potential openings at the University of Minnesota, his alma mater, and the NFL's Vikings, for whom he twice has served as an assistant. He was asked about the Vikings yesterday and offered the perfunctory non-denial denial. Grey Cup week, he said, isn't the time to speculate on "rumours or fairy tales."
"He's a good friend and an excellent coach," Grant said. "He's proven that in Canada -and they may have trouble keeping him. I'll be surprised if he doesn't get offers."
If I was running an NFL team, I'd definitely want to take a strong look at Trestman. He's won 38 of his 54 CFL regular-season games in Montreal (an incredible .703 mark), has claimed the East Division regular-season title each year, has won the East Division playoffs each year, had made three straight Grey Cup appearances and has won back-to-back Grey Cups. Sure, some of that's thanks to having arguably the league's best player in Anthony Calvillo, but Trestman's offensive schemes and strong game-planning have taken the Als to a new level and allowed them to get over the hump.
Trestman has also been rumoured as a head-coaching candidate before with both the Raiders and Bills, and neither of those organizations is in a great position at the moment. NFL teams are notoriously conservative when hiring head coaches, though (even if experience doesn't really help all that much), and there are always plenty of candidates from the current NFL and television ranks. The Minnesota job definitely seemed like the most likely one to pull Trestman away, so Montreal fans can breathe a small sigh of relief for the moment. Just don't exhale too deeply until all the coaching dominoes fall.