The bomb dropped over Bombers headquarters this morning, as the Bombers announced that both general manager Joe Mack and CEO Garth Buchko have been fired.
In a surprise twist, the board named former Bomber fullback Wade Miller, who retired in 2006 after playing his entire 11-year career in blue and gold, as acting CEO. Firing Mack was Miller’s first move in that role. "(Miller will have) a clear mandate to do what he does best and that’s to roll up his sleeves, excite and motivate people, and effect the kind of change that will move the Winnipeg football club in a different direction, starting now," board chair Brock Bulbuck said at the press conference this morning.
Bulbuck would not disclose any time limit the board had imposed on the "acting" part of Miller’s "acting CEO" title, but said it would be long enough to evaluate his performance.
The Bombers, who sit at a dismal 1-5 record to start the season, hastily assembled the press conference to announce they had fired Buchko and Mack. Mack is a former NFL executive who started his pro career as a personnel director with the Bombers in 1984. He was hired prior to the 2010 season in hopes he would turn around the chaotic club’s fortunes, but now exits on the back of a 21-39 record, with no solid plan at quarterback and questions throughout the roster.
Mack’s firing was no surprise, but Buchko’s canning was less expected. The decision had been coming down the pipeline for awhile, Bulbuck said. While the board did consider the cost of having to pay out the two fired executives while hiring Miller, "in light of the alternatives, the action taken today was necessary action," Bulbuck said. He said he could not disclose the financial specifics of the contracts.
"Simply stated, we determined that the club needed to go in a different direction," Bulbuck said. "Garth was dealt a difficult hand, but having said that, we are accountable to our record and we had to act accordingly. The board believed a new direction was necessary, and necessary now."
Miller took to the podium at the press conference to pledge he would do the "heavy lifting required" to put the club in the new direction. Miller said he is not afraid of the term 'acting CEO.'
"I’m not afraid to prove myself and let my results speak for myself," Miller said, adding that Mack’s record did the same.
"I know the challenges that lie ahead, but I’m comfortable in growing a business and tackling everything that comes at me. I have the business and football experience, plus the passion and commitment to move this club forward."
Miller is the founder and CEO of staffing firm Pinnacle and owns some local Booster Juice franchises/ He is also chair of the Bombers alumni organization.
Miller has already spoken with Bombers coach Tim Burke, who was planning on staying in Winnipeg during the team’s bye week, but has not yet had a chance to meet with assistant GM Kyle Walters, who was on his way to Winnipeg this morning. The new acting CEO spoke of his support for both, and said he expects to get that crew together and "figure out a way to move the yardsticks" and start winning football games.
The announcement came after the Free Press reported on Thursday that Buchko had submitted a recommendation to the team’s board of directors that Mack be fired, a leak which Bulbuck condemned this morning. "Not only was the unauthorized release of information extremely unfortunate, it was unethical and left Joe Mack in a position that we all find abhorrent," the chair said. "Though we may never determine in fact whether a board member leaked the information, or who it was, you can count on the fact that we all take the situation extremely seriously."
The leak "moderately accelerated" the decision to move on canning Buchko and starting fresh, Bulbuck said.
Do you think the departure of Joe Mack and Garth Buchko and the arrival of Wade Miller signal the start of a winning streak for the Bombers?
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