Popp go the Panthers?
The hunt for a new Panthers' GM may take the same northern adventure the Bears take in tracking their next head coach: to Montreal Alouettes offices.
"No comment," was all Jim Popp would say from his home in Mooresville, North Carolina, just a 25-minute highway commute from Carolina's football offices.
Popp declined to discuss rumors he'll interview for the vacant NFL GM's job and would not or could not comment on reports Als' Head Coach Marc Trestman has an interview Monday with the Chicago Bears to replace Lovie Smith as their sideline boss.
This we know for sure---Alouettes owner Robert Wetenhall will not stand in either man's way and both are deserving of the opportunity.
Popp is the only GM the Alouettes have known since their rebirth in 1996 and the first and only to win back-to-back Grey Cups.
He came to Montreal following a 2-year stint in Baltimore with Don Mathews building the Stallions into instant Grey Cup contenders. The Als have had 7 head coaches since then (including Popp) but only one GM.
Other NFL teams have come calling for the mastermind behind the Als' perennial division champs before but either the timing has not been right or the coveted NFL GM's job was not to be.
Popp has handled the hardline duties of the CFL Salary Cap as well as anyone, while finding hidden gems through his own NFL training camp scouting each year (responsibilities he has groomed AGM Marcel Desjardins and former allstar offensive lineman Uzooma Okeke).
As the rumors swirled on the weekend, Popp was headed Sunday to the US National Championship game where his former coach Nick Saban leads Notre Dame. Popp has other close personal connections to the Fighting Irish: assistant coaches Dean Altobelli and Bobby Williams, his former roomate at Michigan State and a man Popp had scout for the Als for a time.
Popp and Als coaches and scouting department are scheduled for meetings in North Carolina (where Trestman also makes his offseason home) later next week and will continue to scour the January bowl games for potential 2013 CFL talent.
A Panthers' win-streak to close out the season saved the job of Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who has met Popp at various sports-related social functions over the years, though the 2 have never worked together.