Jim Barker is the general manager of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
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SIGNING OFF: Thanks for your participation. There were some really great questions. They were way better than I thought they'd be. See you at the Rogers Centre in 2015!
My short bio: I'm the General Manager of the CFL team, the Toronto Argonauts Football Club. We are the oldest professional sports team in North America. Ask me anything!
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What are your thoughts on the "Fake Jim Barker" twitter account?
I'm not on Twitter.
If there's a better band than the Argonotes, I haven't heard them.
Hey Jim, go Ticats.
From memory, which year was your favourite Labour Day Classic to participate in?
My favourite was Calgary/Edmonton in 2003. We returned 2 kickoffs for TD's and upset them. The emotions of what Labour Day games are all about came out as both benches clear in one of the biggest brawls in CFL history.
Hi Mr Barker my name is Andrew Fleming I am a long time season ticket holder have never missed a game . I recently graduated from the Sport Management program at Humber College and I am currently on the hunt for a career in sports . I wanted to know if the Argos were currently hiring anyone ?
Pro sports is a difficult business. Plan on working for many years for not very much money. If that interests you, keep tabs on our employment opportunities page on Argonauts.ca
Considering the trouble new receivers had with coach's system, why not bring back Jason Barnes and Mo Mann? Ricky flourishes with vets who can make plays, no? Is it simply vet salary numbers?
there's a lot of factors that go into bringing back a lot of different players. Just because they're not under contract now doesn't mean they won't be later.
Hey Jim, I'm an Argos fan, but this stadium situation is in dire straits. I'm sure you'd agree that the Dome isn't an ideal place for the team - the turf's awful, it's hard to build any fan atmosphere, etc. What are your feelings on the matter, and on possibly moving to BMO?
Well obviously we're hopeful for some positive resolutions soon.
Do you see the CFL expanding to 10 teams during your tenure in the league?
I certainly hope so! I love the Atlantic region. Lobster...
Thanks for doing this! I've got 3 questions for you:
1: What's your take on the Canadian QB question?
2: What was your first thought when you saw that tweet from the Argos account after the Ticats lost the Grey Cup?
3: Is a hot-dog a sandwich?
Hopefully 1 day Canadian QB's will have the same advantage other Canadians have in regards to the ratio. The development of QB's across the country has improved immensely in the last 5 years. As a matter of fact, if Canadian QB's counted towards the ratio Danny Brannagan might still be here.
I don't get involved in Twitter stuff. I don't hear 99% of it.
No, but a sausage cut into pieces can become a sandwich.
Hey Mr. Barker - back in 2010 do you remember hugging a young woman at the player party after the awards? And giving her your business card to send you inspirational quotes? That was me! Sorry I never emailed you but it was a great memory and you're a pretty down to earth gm. Guys like you in the CFL are what make it great.
It's never too late to send quotes! My address hasn't changed...which is rare lol
I remember the surprise the league (and myself) felt when Cory Boyd was released. Personally I felt as though even if releasing him was a good move, not trading him for anyone was a terrible idea. Can you give us some insight on this? Is there any reason he was cut, and not traded?
I tried to trade him. But there come a point when you just move on.
What kinds of things go on behind the scenes that your average fan wouldn't know about? How often to do you talk to other general managers across the league?
I talk to the GM's on a regular basis. On a daily basis, the coaches/personnel staff manipulate the roster constantly. "Should we do this or should we do that?"
Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Nope. I much prefer the 3-down game.
Ultimately, what was the reason that Danny Brannigan was let go back in 2012?
Had to make a tough decision. We just felt other people were further ahead. But I love Danny.
How do you feel about the Argos fanbase compared to others in the CFL?
I think it's every bit as strong. It's more difficult because of our scheduling and things along those lines. I think Argo fans bleed as much as any other fans in the league. They pain with us. They've been through a lot. Honestly I believe that in this league Argo fans get a bad rep.
Hi Jim, thanks for doing this.
How do you and the Argos feel about the use of so-called "Advanced Statistics" in football?
Do you feel they have value in identifying over/under-valued players, or adjusting to in-game scenarios?
I think it's cutting edge. I'm trying to become more acquainted with it. Everyone is looking for that edge. The San Francisco 49ers recently hired someone specializing strictly in analytics. It's becoming more important.
Hello Mr. Barker! Thank you so much for doing this!
1) Where do you see your career in 5 year's time?
2) Reflecting on your time as Argos GM, what's one thing you would have done differently?
3) Got any hidden talents?
Haha, good question. Having to buy a new case for all the Grey Cup rings I've won over the last 5 years with Toronto.
I would have traded for Ricky Ray 2 years earlier.
It's sad, but I really don't think I do.
Given everything you know about concussions, injuries, and long term health effects that can result from the sport...
Would you let your children play football?
I have a 10 year old grandson who is very excited about playing football. While I understand the risks, I also have seen the benefits. I'm excited to watch him play.
Given the fact that the team failed to make the playoffs last season, you, as GM should be looking to improve the team in all areas possible. will that include at least entertaining the idea of replacing Chad Owens as KR/PR? As he has been rather sub-par in that role the last number of seasons
If you don't learn from history you're bound to repeat it. Injuries have been an issue the last 2 years. Chad is vital to our offence. He loves returning punts. But hopefully someone can step in and take some of the burden off his shoulders.
What are your hopes and expectations for the Argos 2015 season?
I expect a Grey Cup. Anything else will be a letdown.
What part of your team do you need to upgrade the most this offseason?
And with regards to receivers who are you looking to replace John Chiles and Spencer Watt at outside receiver this year?
Probably wide receiver and defensivd back.
We've signed a great young group of receivers. Mark Harrison, Darryl Surgent, Jarred Fayson and Kashif Moore all have experience with us. Chris Rossetti and the personnel staff have done a great job at signing new talent.
Proudest football-related moment?
Favorite thing either of your parents ever cooked?
Favorite vacation spot?
Favorite TV show?
Thing you're most looking forward to in 2015?
Favourite TV show: Seinfeld.
Vacation spot: Mexico
Proudest moment: DrumHeller High School. Winning the provincial championship in Alberta. Followed closely by the 2012 Grey Cup Win.
How has the addition of an expansion franchise in the Redblacks made your job more difficult in regards to finding and retaining top Canadian talent?
Obviously there's 30 more jobs now. Finding 30 more players is a challenge. The prices on players go higher because it does become harder to get them. Canadian players are hitting the jackpot right now.
I love the depth in our offensive backfield. Now that Anthony Coombs is presumably healthy, are we still going to carry 2 INT RB on our active roster? And given the strength of this position, can we expect to see some new wrinkles in the running game this year?
My job is to create options from a ratio perspective for the coaching staff. Coombs is a great young player. Could be a RB, SB or even WR. The biggest thing is we have options with a player like him. Our offence runs through Ricky Ray, but Scott Milanovich understands the importance and value from running the ball. Jonathan Himebauch will bring in some great new ideas.
The secondary has been a revolving door for the past 3 seasons. I still see it being an issue this season. Why not add a veteran DB to the secondary? I think you're a great ambassador for our game, thank you!
Thank you for the compliment! Football in this country is important to me.
We've changed defensive coordinators 3 times in 4 years. Each has their own preferences for the type of DB they want. When you hire good people they're going to get promotions elsewhere.
What do you think of Rob Ford?
I like Rob. He's a football guy. He did great things at Bosco High School for those kids. I wish him well in his recovery.
What one piece of advice would you give to the incoming commissioner?
Be strong in your convictions.
Who is the most underrated player on the Argos?
On offence Mike Bradwell. On defence Jermaine Gabriel.
If you could change one CFL rule, what would it be and why?
Allow GM's to talk to officials on the field lol
Hey Jim, any chance we see Kackert back on the roster?
Chad's working to rehab himself right now. At this point I would say no, but he's a very determined young man.
Can you give us some insight in to the Ricky Ray trade? That sent shock waves across the league
Just a conversation between GMs talking about other players and his name came up. You know, there was just back and fourth and it happened.
When you have two guys, maybe one plays a little better than the other, does their attitude come into the signing? Like you might sign the one who maybe plays a little bit lower because he has a better attitude than the other guy?
One of the top qualities in championship teams in this league is the true love of playing the game. Ability is important to a point but attitude is also very important. It's like courting women. Beauty and personality are both important factors. It's a tradeoff.
If you could take one player from any other CFL team and put him in double blue, who would it be and why?
The new commish has been here for 1 day and you're trying to get me fined already?!!
Most people don't know that you actually worked int he XFL with the Los Angeles Xtreme. Could you tell us any tid bits about your tenure in that league?
That was a great league. Every player made the same amount of money. QB's got $5000 more and kickers got $5000 less. The team that won got $2300 and the team that lost got nothing beyond their base salary. It was the way pro football should be. Paid on results. That league was not afraid to try new things and create excitement for fans.
Would you ever consider doing an exclusive interview with Travis the Jr. Admiral of the Argos Admirals?
I'd do an interview with anybody!
Even if you are a dirty Argo I still thank you for the AMA best of luck to the Argos this season and go ti-cats!
Best dish your mom or dad ever cooked growing up?
What's your favorite hobby?
Most exciting moment of the off season so far?
Book: The Winner Within by Pat Riley
Movie: The Natural
Best Dish: Sourkraut
M.E.M.: Foley coming back. Feels like family coming back.
Is there any possibility we could start 4 Canadians on defence?
There's always a possibility.
Do you remember me from the Argos victory parade? I called you Jimmy B!
Oh ya! You were the one in the Argo jersey!
If someone only had money to go to one home game this year which game would you say has the potential to be the most entertaining matchup?
Labour Day rematch. But honestly, any Hamilton game.
Who is the best quarterback you ever coached?
Flutie made everyone including his coaches better.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's your LEAST favourite part?
My favourite part is dealing with the players and coaches. Least favourite part is dealing with the agents...
What is an A+ sandwich to you?
It would have spicy peppers and spolumbo sausage.
What is your favourite current CFL stadium?
I do really like playing in the Rogers Centre. I'm looking forward to playing at SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place in Fort Mac as well on June 27th. Argonaut fans in Fort Mac can finally stand up and be heard!
Can you give us a GMs insight on the 2015 CFL Draft? Are there any guys that really stand out to you? Any hints you can give about the Argos' plans?
This is a great draft year. It's deeper than in past years with better top end players than in past years. The one good thing about being crappy and missing the playoffs is that we pick high.
There have been a number of rumours this offseason that Scott Milanovich may not return as head coach of the Argos beyond 2015, or that he feels unhappy in his current role. Could you address that speculation?
I can tell you for sure he's not unhappy. Speculation is...what speculation is.
What did you learn as a coach that now helps you as a GM?
How coaches think.
Do you really believe Tim Burke is a DC that will succeed here? Awful D last year, very basic. He looks like a lost puppy on the sidelines here like he did in the Peg.
Tim has been to 4 of the last 7 Grey Cups as a DC. He isn't on the sidelines, btw, so maybe you've mistaken him for someone else.
What, in one sentence, would you say to get folks in the states interested in the league?
It's the greatest 3-down football in the world.
I have 4 daughters bred on U.S. football and the only games they care to watch anymore are 3-down football.
Afternoon Mr. B, (keep up the good work!) Consistency is key, and Ricky Ray is one of the best QB's in the League. As he enters the final year of his contract; can you comment on the importance of keeping Ricky in double blue? If that is indeed your intention.
Absolutely. Ricky Ray is perfect for this offence. He and Scott have formed a tight bond and signing 1 will probably help to signing the other.
What's your favourite part of the job that doesn't get as much publicity? We all hear about the free agent signings and personnel decisions -- what's the best part of the job that the media never asks about?
For me it's watching young coaches develop and watching young personnel guys develop. That to me is fun. Helping a guy like Chris Rossetti develop into a top guy. Ted Goveia, Mike O'Shea, Orlondo Steinaur, etc.
What are the most important qualities you look for in Canadian players ? Main differences between American and Canadian guys when signing (outside of ratio #s obviously).
It's all the same thing. It's football ability and ability to learn. Attitude as well. Just looking for the same things in Canadian players as we do American players for how they fit on our team.
Jimmy. Thx for doing it! How do you feel about the current situation with our Bombers now , considering the Joe Mack era and the bad taste he left in everyone's mouth in the CFL? What was your relationship with him?
P.s. I really wish you would of taken that job here to this day!
The fans in WPG deserve a great team. Hopefully they get things sorted out.
Which player was the "one that got away"?
In this business you develop a short memory for things like that.
Who is the next CFL player that you think would suceed at the NFL level?
There are many players in this league qualified. But it's impossible to pinpoint which ones will get the right opportunity.
As someone in the US that doesn't see much CFL, a couple questions.
In terms of the on field product and rules, what are some things you think the CFL does better than the NFL and what are some things that the NFL does better?
Does the CFL have something similar to a collective bargaining agreement with the players and things like the salary cap?
There's plenty! The game is more wide open. The size of the field allows athletes to display their athleticism. The NFL markets incredibly well. They do a really great job with promoting their game.
We do have a CBA. We negotiated a new one last year.
What's something we don't know about Jim Barker?
I'm a bad golfer. It's the most frustrating thing ever. No matter how hard I try I struggle with it. But I love the sport.
What movie should I watch tonight?
Hmm...let's say American Sniper
If you could sign ANYONE (alive/dead, real/fictitious) to play for the Argos, who would you pick?
What's one thing Argos fans might not know about the job of GM?
You have to be decent at math...
There has been some issues with he secondary this past year. What do you think of Evan McCollough? Will he be returning this season? I think he has good veteran experience and can help the younger guys on the field
We brought Evan back last year to fill a need. At this point we don't have him under contract and don't expect to.
Hey Jimmy B! On a scale of 1 to 10 how much of a boss are you?
If I don't think I'm a 10 I shouldn't be here.
If the opportunity ever presented itself, would ever consider ascending up the ranks of the Argos operations team to say President/CEO?
Right now I love what I'm doing.
Hi Jim. Thanks for doing this.
As a Bomber fan, I was wondering if you could tell us something about Coach O'Shea that we don't already know?
He's as loyal a friend, colleague and family man as any person I've ever been around.
Last time I will bug you for the day lol but, can you please sign a kick/punt returner that at least looks like they've played football before?! Was there even 1 return for a TD last year?
We've signed Mike Thomas, Kashif Moore, Darryl Surgent, Anthony McClung and Dionte Spencer. All were outstanding returners in college. We hope one can step forward in training camp.
Why have things gotten so lazy around RC, used to be cool seeing all the logos in the endzone and players covering the 500's. What happened to this?
You'd have to talk to Chris Rudge on the business side.
Which is your favorite cheer?
1.Nobody blows like the Argos!
Oskee Wee Wee
Oskee Wa Wa
Tigers...Eat 'em Raw!!!!