Among CFL head coaches two men stand out with the most victories and Grey Cup appearances, one of whom led the BC Lions to their resurgence in the 1980s; that was head coach Don Matthews who joined the Lions in January 1983. With GM Bob Ackles, Matthews inaugurated the club’s second great period of success after taking over from Vic Rapp following the 1982 season. This success came almost two decades after the team’s first two Grey Cup appearances in 1963 and 1964. Coach Matthews put that long absence behind the team with Western titles in 1983 and 1985 including their second-ever CFL title win. After a narrow 18-17 loss to Toronto in the 1983 Grey Cup at B.C. Place, Matthews brought the club the 1985 championship with a 37-24 victory over Hamilton. His winning record as Lions’ head coach is unmatched with a 56-23-1 mark (winning percentage of .706) with three first place finishes. His 56 wins trail only Wally Buono’s 101 and Don led the team to four straight seasons of 11 or more victories and four western playoff title game appearances.
Don was named to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2011 and ranks #2 all-time with 231 wins in 22 seasons across 365 regular season games. His 1985 BC Lions team is up on the club’s Wall of Fame but perhaps an even better statistic is that among the 40 honoured individual players there as of 2012, 18 of them played for Coach Matthews.