If there was any question about Tim Burke’s loyalties heading into the 2012 CFL season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive coordinator seemed to put them to rest in a conference call on Monday afternoon.
In his first comments to reporters since the Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Saturday that they were bypassing Burke to hire George Cortez as their new head coach, Burke revealed that even as he aggressively pursued the Hamilton job, he remained loyal to the Bombers organization.
Asked Monday if he at any point considered pulling out of the Hamilton coaching sweepstakes when it became clear late in the drawn-out process that he was Hamilton’s second choice to Cortez, Burke offered a revealing answer.
"There was a point where I was considering pulling out, but not because of that reason," Burke replied. "It was because I felt like the Bombers organization -- it was becoming an unfair process for them. I kind of put a timetable on it and the day I was going to pull out (last Friday), I got a call from Hamilton saying the next day (Saturday) they were going to make a decision. So it pretty much timed out the same way...
"I’d be less than honest if I said I wasn’t disappointed," Burke continued. "But I’m excited about coming back. I was having mixed feelings anyway because (2011) was probably the most fun I’ve had as a coach since I’ve been in the CFL this last year."
In his first year with the Bombers, Burke sculpted the Bombers defence into the stingiest unit in the league and a key to the club’s surprising run all the way to the 2011 Grey Cup.
Burke was asked about the challenges facing the Bombers in the coming season with major changes in both the Toronto and Hamilton organizations during the off-season that promise to dramatically improve the offences in both cities in 2012.
"Obviously, the East is going to be a lot tougher race. It’s going to be a heck of a battle just to make the playoffs."