Jim Popp ‘Popps up’ in the USFL
Former CFL executive Jim Popp has been announced as the “Director of Player Personnel” for the new iteration of the USFL. Which is set to begin play this coming April. Octagaon, Popp’s management company announced the news on Friday.
Fans in the UK may need a little background on Popp’s career in the CFL. Despite being 14 games through the season in 2019 by the Toronto Argonauts, (2-12) at the time, ha has an impressive CFL CV. It all went wrong in Toronto and they were 6-26 over his last 2 seasons in charge. But before that he delivered them to a 9-9 season that led to an upset win in the 2017 Grey Cup. One of the best Grey Cup games of the last decade.
The new USFL
Spring leagues have come and gone with alarming regularity in the US. This second iteration of the USFL is another attempt to get somehting going. This time tied to the nostlagia of the original USFL. A league that provided one of the few pro 2,000 yard men when Herschel Walker delivered a 2,411 yards rushing season in 1985.
The USFL announced last June it will play this spring with a minimum of eight teams and “deliver high-quality, innovative professional football to fans.” Brian Woods, CEO of The Spring League is co-founding this attempt at a USFL branded league. How will Popp’s CFL player personnel knowledge and experience play into recruiting for the new league?
Jim Popp has had plenty of CFL success
He is best remembered however for his time with the Montreal Alouettes. He was GM with the Als for 21 years. On his watch they appeared in the playoffs every year from 1996 to 2014. Whilst compiling a 214-127-1 record, and appearing in the Grey Cup 8 times (winning on 3 occasions).
In fact he was there for the return of the Als to the league. The return of the Als came as the Stallions left Baltimore to the NFL, relocated to Montreal and relaunched the Alouettes franchise. To this day the Als do not recognise the Stallions as part of official team history. But when they did return they were hugely successful. Because largely to begin with of a core from that Baltimore team. A team Popp had built.
The Baltimore Stallions were only in the CFL for two seasons. But they had a huge impact. Appearing in the Grey Cup game in both seasons of their existence, losing to BC in 1994 and winning it all in 1995. One of the few 15 win teams in the history of the CFL they also had a huge impact off the field.
Popp put together squads that appeared in 11 Grey Cups and won 5 over 26 seasons. His teams sported a 269-194-1 regular season record and picked up 11 Division titles.
Popp first appeared in the CFL as the receivers coach and director of player personnel for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1992-3.
Popp has spent the last two years as the assistant head coach and running backs coach at Alabama State University.
Banner Image: Jim Popp in the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts. Image from cfl.ca