Former Green Bay Packer star Willie Wood of Washington, D.C., is a prime candidate for the head-coaching job with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, according to Lew Hayman, president of the club.
"He certainly is a prominent contender for the job," said Hayman last night."He's the prime candidate from within the organization. If I go that route, he's the candidate for the job."
The coaching job opened up last week when Forrest Gregg quit to take over the Cincinnati Bengals after fulfilling one year of a three-year contract. The Argonauts finished last in the CFL's Eastern Confernce with a 5-11 record.
Wood, 43, was the defensive backfield coach last season with Toronto. He had a sparkling playing career as a quarterback-defensive back at Washington's Armstrong High and at the University of Southern California before playing for Green Bay from 1960 through 1971, where he was All-Pro six times.
"I wish I could tell you that I was hired as head coach," said Wood last night. "I'm under consideration. I've been up there several times interviewing for the job. I wish it was firm. I'm on pins and needles, myself. I'm sure there are other people who have been interviewed. I'd be tickled to death to get the job."
Hayman said others were being considered but would not give any names or numbers.
"We have a situation where there are head coaches wanting the job," he said. "Guys that have been head coaches but are not now.
"If I can be satisfied that Willie Wood can handle the job as head coach -- there are many more responsibilities -- that he has the mental ability, plus the ability to make whatever assessments a head coach has to make . . ." Hayman said he would make his selection in about a week.
If Wood is hired, he would be the first black coach in the CFL. He was head coach in 1975 of the Philadelphia Bell of the now defunct World Football League.
"To me, talent is talent," said Hayman. "If he's a person who can handle the responsibility, color doesn't mean anything to me.
"It strikes me because when I was with the Montreal Alouettes in 1946, I brought the first black football player into the CFL. He turned out to be a great player and a great person. He's in the Hall of Fame up here. His name is Herb Trawick.