stop shopping for all things Blue and Gold
The Bombers continued their early December tradition today by naming a new head coach. The usual optimism surrounded the event, although this time it seemed a little different.
I not going to sit here and claim Mike O the 30th head coach in Bomber history, is the answer, because no one knows. He does, however, seem like a down to earth, likeable and respected man who played 16 seasons in the CFL as a rugged middle linebacker and then had four more years as Toronto innovative special teams boss. He is an excellent choice, but he is a rookie choice. It a gamble, but it seems like a smart gamble. Only time will tell.
The presser was originally going to be held on Friday, but it was moved up to today. Not sure why, but the speculation is it was because there are so many assistant coaching spots to fill that there was no use waiting around. Makes sense.
Here what one league executive said to me when I asked his thoughts on the O hire: like it providing he gets a good staff with him. They need a vet somewhere. O came across as, well, a Canadian. Lions?
One of the new names I heard as a possible coaching staff member on Wednesday is Cooper Harris. If you Google him, it NOT the attractive actress you will see on the first page of search results. He is a former teammate of O O said some of the coaches who have influenced him over the years include Don Matthews, Stubler, Gary Etcheverry, Scott Milanovich and Jim Barker. Not a bad crew.
O said one of the first things he asked the Bombers during the interview process was how much time he would be given to turn things around. "I wanted to find out what their commitment level was, he said. are committed to this town, this province, this organization, and they're committed to winning. To me, it was an easy choice. The matter of time, Kyle's done a great job with the scouting staff, Wade's done a great job hiring Kyle. I know it sounds a bit like a love in, but they're building it right. Their hearts are in the right place. They've got good football minds. There's nowhere to go but up."
I talked to O former teammate, Kevin Eiben, on Wednesday, and he had nothing but great things to say about the new Bomber boss. "One of the smartest players I've ever played with, one of the hardest working for sure, and one of the toughest, Eiben said. can always remember one of the years when he broke his collarbone and played another nine games with a broken collarbone. I'd never seen that in my career. He loved the game. He was always there for his teammates no matter what, and he wasn't going to be pulled off the field unless he was dying."
It didn go unnoticed by several in attendance that Wade Miller was at the back of the room and it was Kyle Walters up at the front with O It was a subtle gesture that Walters is his own man and made the O selection. Miller will still be in the picture, though, especially if Khari Jones becomes the offensive co ordinator.
My colleague, Paul Friesen, asked O if he would make the big decisions, like who the starting quarterback would be week in and week out. That was one of the things that Tim Burke could have done better: not completely giving the responsibility to the offensive co ordinator. O answer makes it sound even more like it going to be a group effort on Chancellor Matheson Road going forward. "That will be a collaboration, he said. not going to be left just up to the offensive co ordinator. I will certainly value their opinion greatly. But if there's some glaring issue or some game management issue that I have, we're definitely going to have to talk about it. The first time O and GM Kyle Walters met was in 1992 on the practice field at the University of Guelph, where they literally collided during a training camp drill. Walters was a running back; O a linebacker. kind of a small, shifty guy, and I looked across and it was Mike O'Shea, Walters said. he killed me. That was Day 1 of training camp. And I was like, 'I'm not sure if this university football is cut out for me.' It was clear O was blown away by the reception he got during the press conference. The Eskimos invited their fans to come to Chris Jones press conference last week, and the Bombers followed suit. More than 100 supporters showed up, and it had O wishing he had brought his entire family to Winnipeg. O brought his only son, Mike Jr., to Winnipeg and posed for pictures with him afterwards.
O will be moving his family from Milton, Ont., which is the only place it has ever called home, to Winnipeg, which he noted is no small thing. His other family members include his wife Richere and two daughters in addition to Mike Jr.
Just for fun, I went back and looked at Toronto special teams units in 2010 O first year with the Argos. They had the best punt return average, the third best kick return average, the most big plays, the most kick return touchdowns, the fewest cover team penalties and the best kickoff average.
In addition, the Argos special teams were 5 for 5 on third down fakes in 2010. The rest of the league was a combined 7 for 11. Bomber fans are no doubt hoping he brings that kind of fun to Investors Group Field in 2014.
The Bombers introduced new assistant GMs Danny McManus and Ted Goveia on Tuesday, and there were lots of interesting tidbits to come out of the 20 minute session.
Who knows if Kyle Walters, McManus and Goveia will be able to turn things around for the Bombers because none of them has ever called the final shots for a pro team before (save for Walters interim stint), but at least all three have worked in the CFL recently. The same can be said about the last guy.
The addition of McManus gives the Bombers some instant credibility, just from his name only. He is well liked across the league.
I asked McManus whether he believes wide open free agent camps or invitation only events are the way to find imports. He said he will open up camps to anyone who wants to give it a shot. "You gotta get out there and see them, he said. players everywhere. You gotta communicate with their agents. Get them out there so you can look at them. Do they fit into what you're looking for? But you gotta get out there. There's too many guys out on the street who have no idea where a camp is, but we'll be proactive. We'll get it out on the website."
McManus figures 60 to 70% of Hamilton import roster was found through wide open free agent camps. scouting. They also plan to him up on the salary cap and doing contracts. It really sounds like it going to be a team effort among the three.
Goveia, who grew up in Burlington, Ont., is the lesser known of the two assistant GMs, but he gave a good first impression on Tuesday. He did a lot of work for the Argos over the last few years, so he has a pretty good feel for the management side of the football business. He was a coach for many years until becoming Toronto director of Canadian scouting in 2011. "I like coaching, he said. coached for a long time, and it was a great experience. When I got into the CFL I got a chance to coach and meet some great people and then an opportunity to get on the scouting side I just tried it and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being part of putting a team together and contributing in a different way."
Goveia said he and McManus seem to share a football brain. "We'd always joke around because we seem to like the same type of players, Goveia said. leave a camp and we'd be talking at some point, and some guy would end up on his neg list and I'd be joking around wondering if our offices were tapped because every time I mentioned a guy that I was thinking of putting on he would end up on Hamilton's neg list. In the CFL it often about who you know as opposed to what you know, and McManus and Walters were teammates with the Tiger Cats for six years. had great success in Hamilton when we were together, McManus said. watched Kyle do the coaching ranks, I've watched him in the management ranks, and he's definitely a guy you want to hook your line to because he's going places."
Walters and Goveia built their relationship on the scouting path over the last few years. "You meet guys, and there's something about them that you like and that you trust and that these are good men and they're good at their jobs, Walters said. where Ted and I built our relationship."
Walters (and likely Wade Miller) will make the call on the head coach, but McManus and Goveia will offer their two cents on the next boss as well. By the way, it really sounds like it going to be a choice between Mike O and George Cortez, with O still being the front runner.
It was originally though Goveia would take over the Canadian scouting, but Walters said he will still be the main man when it came to evaluating Cowboys Ben Gardner Jersey non import talent. scouting department and (national scout) Drew (Morris), Walters said.
McManus will have a big say in which quarterbacks the Bombers sign, but Walters said he won be coaching them. McManus will be based in his home state of Florida.
Speaking of quarterbacks, McManus said something that made it sound like the Bombers will be waiting until after the Ottawa expansion draft to go after a pivot. Ottawa makes their play, everyone has to kind of sit back and wait, he said. in the CFL, that's your number one spot. You're going to go as far as your quarterback will take you."
McManus wouldn take credit for any particular player the Ticats found in recent years, and he won do that in Winnipeg, either. "We're all in it together, he said. all going to have a bit of it. We're going to cross check with each other on players. I like it that way. I'm more of a team guy and never an 'I' guy. That's the way I played football, and that's the way I do business in the personnel department. Teddy's the same way. Kyle's the same way. We just want to get the best guys here, and we want to do it as a we, not as a me."
Finally, I had to ask McManus if he could still play quarterback at the tender age of 48, and his answer proved he has a solid understanding of the CFL collective bargaining agreement. "Maybe a play or so, he said, I told Kyle not until after the ninth game of the year so my contract is guaranteed.
Keywords: stop shopping for all things Blue and Gold