It didn’t take newly installed Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke long to toss a good-natured spark on the longtime Bombers-Saskatchewan Roughriders rivalry.
Burke will make his rookie head coaching debut this Sunday in the hostile confines of Regina’s Mosaic Stadium and he was asked following practice in Winnipeg on Thursday what it will be like to be actually standing on the sidelines during a game again, something he hasn't done for close to 20 years.
"It probably will be a little (weird)," Burke told reporters. "I'm sure I will get heckled... It’s really great (debuting in Saskatchewan) -- they’ll probably be throwing beer on me."
A reporter asked Burke if he had a particular type of beer he’d like to be showered with in Regina -- pilsner, perhaps?
"I'm more of an IPA (India Pale Ale) fan, myself. I like a little more hops in my beer. I'm a little tougher than those guys over in Saskatchewan."
And with that, let the annual friendly war of words between Bombers and Riders fans officially begin.
While he’s a rookie head coach, Burke knew exactly the mischief he was causing with his questioning of the manhood of Riders fans -- something that became clear when Bombers spokesman Darren Cameron intervened in the media scrum and tried to steer the questions elsewhere.
"You got to add some punch to this game, right?," Burke laughed as Cameron stood by, shaking his head but smiling.
Burke made the comments during an unusually light-hearted media availability, the likes of which were seldom seen under his much more austere predecessor, Paul LaPolice.
Indeed, Burke had the media laughing before anyone had any chance to even say anything, walking into the scrum and immediately beginning to answer the obvious questions before they’d even been asked.
"Buck’s got the flu, that’s why he wasn't there. (Linebacker) Marcellus Bowman will be fine, he was just resting a sore whatever it is, I don’t even know what it is.
"And (slotback) Terrence (Edwards) will be playing this weekend - he might take tomorrow off. He just got his shoulder dinged a little bit. It’s nothing serious.
More than okay, actually, for a media who had to pull information like teeth out of LaPolice, who this season even began absurdly discussing injuries only in terms of "upper" and "lower" body.
Burke was correct in anticipating the top three questions after a practice that saw QB Buck Pierce absent entirely, Bowman present but not practising and Edwards leave early after getting hit by a defender while making a catch.
Burke has spent most of the past 20 years as either a defensive coordinator or secondary coach, positions which have forced him to watch games from high above the field in the coach’s box.
Asked when the last time he actually watched a game from field level, Burke figured it was in 1993 or 1994 while he was coaching at Ball State.
So, does that mean he will be relishing the moment even more when he makes his head-coaching debut on the sidelines in Regina?
"I don’t know how much I will relish and enjoy it at the very beginning," said Burke. "I just hope I’m not peeing my pants at that point."