Arne Viimets, an intellectually gifted football coach with a passion for opera and a penchant for discussing football and Thoreau with his dog, becomes the head coach of the McGill University Redmen. It has been ten years since he last coached; as offensive coordinator for the NCAA Clemson Tigers he was fired after an incident in which he slapped a player on national TV. His return to the game is motivated by a desire to regain control and meaning in his life and his marriage, both of which have been devastated by the tragic deaths of his two sons.
The coach’s tenure is beset with player dissension, a dysfunctional coaching staff, and the vagaries of his own peculiar methods. The Redmen evolve through two losing seasons into a team set for an unlikely run toward the Vanier Cup, Canada’s university football championship.
Redmen examines the nebulous concept of ‘team’: What is it that makes a group of players perform above or below the sum of their collective talents? In particular, the story is about two individuals, a coach and a player, who each try to follow a strong moral compass amidst a society that, from different perspectives, they find bereft of values like discipline, commitment, and integrity.