Argos narrow down coaching search

Forget about Jim Fassel as a candidate for the Toronto Argonauts’ vacant head coaching job, has learned.

The Argos have whittled down their coaching search, which started out with a list of some 40 names and is now between five to seven candidates, and it does not include Fassel.

But he was an extreme long shot for various reasons, not the least of which is financial.

Fassel, the onetime New York Giants head coach now working as a analyst for National Football League games broadcast on radio, had been interviewed, but has been removed because he has indicated he might have a shot at an NFL job after this season. Independent of that, his salary would have been far too steep anyway, between $500,000 to $1 million. The list is said to be an equal number of currently-employed CFL position coaches and currently-employed NFL position coaches.

The short-listed CFL candidates are B.C. Lions defensive co-ordinator Mike Benevides, who is considered the frontrunner, Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive co-ordinator/assistant coach Richie Hall and Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall. Hall and Marshall have been passed over several times by other teams in previous years for head coaching jobs.

The NFL candidates are considered no-namers in terms of their identity to football fans. The candidates would be looking to take the Argo opportunity to become a head coach and would not command an exorbitant salary, relatively speaking.

The top-paid CFL coaches are B.C.’s Wally Buono and Calgary’s John Hufnagel, both of whom are also general managers. Montreal head coach Marc Trestman, who concluded his first season in the CFL after a long tenure in the NFL, is believed to earn between $300,000-$400,000 a season.

When the list is narrowed to the finalists, the team’s owners will become involved and personally interview them.

Whoever is hired will not be given control of the football operations. That happened last year with rookie head coach Rich Stubler, who was fired after 10 games due in part to a rift with other members of the football operations.

The search may drag on until the beginning of February when the contracts of CFL and NFL coaches expire. However, currently-employed CFL position coaches can be excused from their contracts if offered a head coaching job.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.