It Couldn't End Fast Enough
What a nightmare that Argo season was.
Who would have thought the highlight was a Labour Day victory over Hamilton?
And then nothing. No more wins, a defence that crumbled and a lot of talk from management and coaching about supposed improvements that were virtually undetectable to the outside eye.
This season was Willie Wood bad.
So what happens now?
The Argos can at least take solace in the fact that crowds, surprisingly, didn't wilt as the year went on, although they clearly started playing with attendance numbers, making it sound even better than it was.
But next season could be different. For starters, if December's NFL game between Buffalo and Miami at the dome turns out to be a major hit, it's not hard to imagine that the Argos might seem like a poor entertainment investment in an eroding economy.
Owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski could wait, let the ruination of this season slowly evaporate, then begin planning for next year.
That would be risky. The Argos are still at least in the spotlight to some extent. This is football season, after all.
Cynamon and Sokolowski need to make some sort of public statement with their management/coaching group to indicate to their fans that they are as disgusted with this season as anyone.
It seems clear the structure currently in place, with Michael Clemons and Brad Watters at the top, and the football operation headed by Adam Rita below that, isn't functioning as effectively any more. The coaching staff now led by Don (0-fer-8) Matthews is in turmoil.
Seeing Clemons having to publicly deny meddling in Rita's sandbox isn't great P.R. for the team. Moreover, it's a fact that Clemons and Rita haven't seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues, and the precise job description of each within the team seems to have been muddled.
There's also the perception that Rita, Matthews and offensive co-ordinator Steve Burratto are a little too tight, forming a club within a club, as it were.
Clearly, Matthews shouldn't come back. His third stint as Argo head coach has been an unmitigated disaster, and all his loyalists who once played for him and now occupy media analyst positions have little solid evidence to prove otherwise.
Last night's fake punt debacle was just the icing on the cake.
Down the road, Hamilton has confirmed Marcel Bellefeuille as their coach for next season and has invested in a new franchise player - Kenton Keith - and a new quarterback, Quintin Porter.
People around the league believe that the Cats are ahead of the Argos in terms of developing a competitive team, and may be close to turning the proverbial corner after years of struggling.
It's bad enough for the Argos to be the second worst team in the east. Being the worst behind Hamilton would be nightmarish.
So next season begins now. Ownership needs to make at least one splashy announcement/decision to make the public understand that they view this season as unacceptable.
The status quo won't sell a ticket.