Pro football's all-time passing leader ended his one-year hiatus from football Monday when he was named an offensive assistant with the Alouettes. The 42-year-old Los Angeles native's official position won't be determined until Montreal hires a new offensive co-ordinator, which head coach Tom Higgins figures will happen in early January.
"The biggest thing for me right now is to start hunkering down," Calvillo said during a conference call. "Once I get off this call I'm going to get on the phone with (GM Jim Popp) and start getting access to a computer and start watching film from last year.
"I want to look at the entire season on the offence and see what was going on and absorb everything and learn from it. Being away from the game for a year has been great but it's time for me to get back to work."
Calvillo retired in January after a concussion limited him to just seven games in 2013. During his retirement announcement Calvillo said he was taking 2014 off to spend time with his wife and two young daughters but often stated his goal was to start coaching in 2015.
Montreal's defensive coaching staff returns intact with Noel Thorpe (defensive co-ordinator/assistant head coach), Keith Willis (defensive line), Greg Quick (linebackers) and Anwar Stewart (quality control). Offensively, Kris Sweet (offensive line) and Andre Bolduc (quality control) retained their jobs but offensive co-ordinator Ryan Dinwiddie will return as an offensive assistant, just like Calvillo.
Dinwiddie, 34, who began his CFL coaching career as an assistant in '13 with Montreal, assumed the offensive co-ordinator's job after Rick Worman was fired during training camp. To help Dinwiddie, the Alouettes hired former NFL assistant Turk Schonert and former CFL/NFL star Jeff Garcia as consultants before naming them receivers and quarterbacks coach, respectively.
"He (Dinwiddie) was put in a situation that there was no one else and so we surrounded him with whatever we possibly could," Higgins said. "You have to look at it he also understood he was in a situation that was overwhelming to him.
"For him to have had that experience so very young in his coaching is going to serve him very well . . . I think he's a lot more comfortable now knowing he can continue to work and grow and learn. I don't look at it as a demotion, it's just being back where he was and needs to be in his development."
Higgins said Garcia, who joined Montreal in August as an offensive consultant before being promoted to quarterbacks coach, won't return. Garcia has a young family living in Southern California and wants to be closer to home.
Running backs coach Mark Speckman and defensive assistant Jean-Vincent Posy-Audette both won't return. Speckman has interviewed for a head coaching position at Lewis & Clark, a Division III school in Portland, Ore., while Higgins said Posy-Audette opted against coming back.
Montreal is also looking for a special-teams co-ordinator.
The Alouettes opened last season losing six of their first seven games before finishing 8-2 to secure second in the East with a 9-9 record. After beating the B.C. Lions 50-17 in the East semifinal, Montreal's campaign ended with 40-24 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the division final.
Higgins also said Schonert might return in '15, fuelling speculation the former NFL quarterback could be promoted to offensive co-ordinator. Schonert served as the Buffalo Bills offensive co-ordinator in '08 and was a finalist for the Montreal head-coaching job that went to Dan Hawkins in '13.
Hawkins was fired just five games into the '13 season after compiling a 2-3 record.
With Garcia gone, Calvillo could become Montreal's quarterbacks coach and tutor young starter Jonathan Crompton. It's a position Calvillo certainly knows well, having played 20 CFL seasons, including his final 16 with the Als.
Calvillo retired as the most prolific passer in pro football history (79,816 yards) and three times was the CFL's outstanding player. He led Montreal to eight Grey Cup appearances, winning three, and Oct. 13 the Alouettes retired his No. 13.
Higgins said Montreal's offensive co-ordinator will determine the coaching roles of his assistants but added the experience Calvillo gained as a player would allow him to coach much more than just quarterbacks.
"He can coach running backs, quarterbacks, receivers anything on the offensive side of the ball not associated with the offensive line," Higgins said. "He's hungry to learn.
"He knows he's young in this process. He knows he can bring a lot to the table but also knows the learning curve he's going to incur."
A fact not lost upon Calvillo.
"I'm here to learn . . . I'm up for anything," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the challenge because that's exactly what it's going to be, a challenge to learn how to be a coach."
Calvillo was blessed with a strong right arm, but physical ability was but one reason for his on-field success. He was also meticulous in his preparation, spending countless hours breaking down film of his opponents. Former Als head coaches Don Matthews and Marc Trestman both included Calvillo in forming the weekly offensive gameplan and were rewarded with Grey Cup titles with Calvillo under centre.
However, the challenge Calvillo faces now is finding an effective way to pass on the many lessons he's learned to Montreal's players.
"I have all this knowledge in my head but I have to make sure it comes across where guys can understand it," he said. "When I would have my days off, when I'd relax at home during the season the coaches were grinding away preparing for the next opponent . . . I have to see what they were doing for so many years to make sure I could bring information and knowledge to that whole process.
"I'm starting from the bottom."
But Popp said Calvillo's many on-field accomplishments will command respect from Montreal's players.
"Anthony will begin his career learning the ropes of being a coach, which is very different than a player," Popp said. "He'll learn it very quickly but right off the bat when he walks into the locker-room there's true trust there with a lot of our players because he was their leader before he stepped away."