New head coach Ryan Dinwiddie tasked with making Argos winners again
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, December 13, 2019 6:11PM EST
TORONTO - Ryan Dinwiddie had the head coaching bug back when he was a CFL quarterback, regularly drawing up plays for consideration by his bosses at the time.
Now he's getting a chance to do the real thing with the Toronto Argonauts.
Dinwiddie, who spent the last four seasons as a quarterbacks coach with Calgary, was officially introduced Friday as the 45th head coach in Argonauts history.
“It's always been in my blood,” Dinwiddie said. “I didn't know how fast it was going to happen. I was being patient. I was in a good situation in Calgary. I wasn't rushing to be (a head coach) but when the right opportunity showed up, I jumped at it.”
The 39-year-old native of Elk Grove, Calif., spent three seasons with Montreal in a variety of coaching capacities, including offensive co-ordinator, before leaving for the Stampeders, where he worked with star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell. Dinwiddie's five-year playing career was spent primarily as a backup in Winnipeg (2006-08) and Saskatchewan (2010-11).
He'll have his work cut out for him in Toronto. The Argonauts missed the playoffs after a second straight four-win season and their starting quarterback position remains a question mark.
“It's a great place to start something special,” Dinwiddie said. “Obviously we've got a long way to go but I think the sky is the limit. We've got to build it.”
Michael (Pinball) Clemons was tasked to do just that when he was named general manager two months ago. Culture has been the team's new buzzword as the front office examines all facets of football operations.
“We did not go into this off-season, even coming off 4-14, looking to make a (coaching) change,” said team president Bill Manning. “But I did ask Pinball to evaluate everything and he said, 'I think we have the wrong culture and we need to change the culture here at the Argos.'
“And so obviously his hiring was the first step in that process and now (we're) hiring Ryan.”
Dinwiddie replaced Corey Chamblin in the position. Chamblin's departure and Dinwiddie's hiring were announced by the team Thursday afternoon.
Clemons said he was compelled by Dinwiddie's preparation and discipline process.
“When we look at the decision that we made today, we decided that the best thing was to build,” he said. “And to build it with that young guy who is the next guy, if you will.”
The GM added he'd talked to other candidates about the position, but was impressed with Dinwiddie's “exhaustive desire” to win.
“We weren't looking for a quick fix,” Clemons said. “We weren't looking for that shiny wheel of the day.”
Manning said he was impressed with the fact Dinwiddie had a plan, knew the steps he wanted to take and is determined to get results.
“I think Ryan is going to put together the building blocks we need, which starts with culture first to get us to where we eventually want to be, which is to be a consistent contender,” he said. “That's where we want to be.”
Dinwiddie, who enjoyed a stellar college career at Boise State University, made his first career start in the 2007 Grey Cup at Rogers Centre, just down the road from the Argos' current home at BMO Field. His Winnipeg side dropped a 23-19 decision to the Roughriders.
Dinwiddie said he had good relationships with coaches Doug Berry (in Winnipeg) and Ken Miller (in Saskatchewan) and was always interested in that part of the game. He recalled working with Miller on the Statue of Liberty trick play that Dinwiddie's alma mater made famous in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, and the Roughriders used it in a game against B.C.
“They always laughed about how many plays that I would give to them and draw up,” he said with a smile.
Clemons referenced names like Bob O'Billovich, Dave Dickenson and Scott Milanovich as coaches who were the 'next one' when they landed CFL head coaching jobs. He's hopeful Dinwiddie can follow a similar path by establishing consistency within the organization while building a winning franchise.
“I'm beyond excited to be here and obviously I know the challenge that we have,” Dinwiddie said. “The last two years are unacceptable in this organization. Wins and losses is how you measure success. I think we've got to start getting in the win column and start building this thing the right way.
“I feel like we can get that done with our leadership and I look forward to the challenge. We're going to hit the ground running.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 13, 2019.