According to a source, Tom Higgins will be named the new head coach of the Alouettes either on Monday or Tuesday, ending months of speculation.
The news was first reported earlier Monday afternoon by montrealgazette.com via Twitter (@HerbZurkowsky1).
Higgins, 59, brings a wealth of Canadian Football League experience to the Als, but would be inheriting a team coming off an 8-10 record – a team that’s now without veteran starting quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who announced his retirement last month.
Montreal finished third in the East Division last season and was eliminated by Hamilton in the semifinal, losing in overtime.
Higgins is a former head coach and general manager with the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders. He served as the Eskimos’ coach and GM from 2001-04. Edmonton captured the Grey Cup in 2003, defeating the Als.
Higgins then moved to the Stampeders, beginning a three-year stint as head coach in 2005.
Twice, Higgins was named the CFL’s coach of the year, in 2003 and 2005.
Higgins, a native of Colonia, N.J., was the head coach at the University of Calgary from 1982-84 before moving to the CFL as an assistant coach.
He coached the defensive line, offensive line and was an offensive co-ordinator with Calgary. He also was the Stamps’ assistant head coach in 1993. He became the Eskimos’ assistant GM in 1994, before being named GM and chief operating officer of the team in 1997.
After attending North Carolina State, Higgins, a linebacker, played three seasons for Calgary, went to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 1979 and then returned to Canada, signing with Saskatchewan.
Higgins has worked for the CFL the last five seasons, serving as the director of officiating. He left that position in December and has let people know he wanted to return to coaching.
Jim Popp, the Als’ GM, replaced fired head coach Dan Hawkins five games into last season with Montreal at 2-3. Popp was interested in retaining both jobs and was expected to be confirmed in the dual roles shortly after the Als’ season ended, last November.
But it appears Popp, who’s entering the final season of his contract as GM, got bogged down in negotiations with owner Robert Wetenhall, the two sides unable to agree on the length of a new deal, not to mention how long Popp would continue coaching the team.