Scott Milanovich, Head Coach of the Toronto Argonauts, has been named CFL “Coach of the Year” for 2012. Competing against Mike Benevides of the BC Lions and John Hufnagel of the Calgary Stampeders, Milanovich won the award in grand fashion, with 34 of a possible 45 votes from the Football Reporters of Canada.
Milanovich assumed the reins of a club that posted a disappointing 6 – 12 record in 2011. With a new Defensive Coordinator, a new quarterback, and no Offensive Coordinator, he simply moulded a team that would cap off the 2012 season by winning the Grey Cup. Not too shabby.
In his usual manner, the Argo Coach was gracious and humble in accepting the award. He was quick to pass along credit for the honour to his players, fellow coaches, the Argo organization, and the Toronto fans. “The City of Toronto embraced my family from the moment we arrived, and they love living here,” said Milanovich. “The players were loyal and committed and really pulled together. And to finish off the season the way we did was something you dream about.”
But Milanovich had special words to say about General Manager Jim Barker. “I played for Jim, and then we coached together, so when I arrived in Toronto, we were already pretty much on the same page.” The two worked through some challenging personnel decisions together. While Barker was in hot pursuit of quarterback Ricky Ray prior to the season, the two were in absolute lock-step. “Just get it done,” was Milanovich’s way of supporting Barker’s initiative.
Other decisions, however, were more difficult. Obviously referring to the mid-season release of league-leading running back Cory Boyd, Milanovich said, “We also had to make some very tough decisions that we knew would be unpopular. But we stuck to our guns and had total trust in each other.”
Winning the Grey Cup is the ultimate testimony to successful teamwork between GM and Head Coach. “The moment after winning the Grey Cup was one of the best moments of my life. But no one sees what happens after a loss. The entire organization lives and dies with each loss. That’s when Jim was someone I could lean on. He was always there for me.”
The script for the 2012 season could not have been written any better. But with the CFL’s Coach of the Year alongside his ever supportive GM heading into year two, one can only imagine what is possible.