By Gary Lawless
Buck Pierce didn’t stay retired very long.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers hired the former quarterback as their running backs coach.
Pierce retired Tuesday after a nine season career that saw him throw for 15,289 yards, 76 touchdowns, 1,200 completions, and 130 games played.
"Deciding not to play football anymore was a difficult decision, but having the opportunity to re-join the Bombers in a coaching role was really a perfect fit. I am thrilled they wanted me to be a part of what I believe will be a great thing here in Winnipeg. I said when I was traded that I hoped one day I would be back in some capacity, and today is a really special day for my family and me," said Pierce.
Pierce was traded to the B.C. Lions last summer after playing the better part of four seasons in Winnipeg. During his time with the Bombers, Pierce became involved in the community working with Special Olympics Manitoba, Manitoba Minor Football, Ronald McDonald House, Faces of Freedom, The Dream Factory and United Way after school programs.
"It feels good it feels right. Since I got here nine years ago I always wanted to be a student of the game," said Pierce. "I always wanted an opportunity to be a coach and to get to do it in this city, where I live, with this organization and in this league is a good fit for me. It’s a good start for me. It’s going to be a learning process."
The Bombers have gone through a lot of upheaval this off-season and Pierce, who saw the lowest of the lows during his time as a player in Winnipeg, likes the changes made by the organization.
"I like the people they’ve hired here and the direction they’re heading in," said Pierce, who had lunch with Bombers GM Kyle Walters two weeks ago which planted the seed for this hiring.
Pierce said he hasn’t played running back since he was eight years old but doesn’t expect to have any issue tutoring the position.
"Playing the quarterback position, you have to know the protections. The running backs sit in on a lot of the game meetings. Dave Dickenson started as a running backs coach when he first retired. It’s a good transition," said Pierce.
Going from the locker room and having friendships with players on the club won’t be hindrance said Pierce.
"I have friends and good relationships in the locker room. They’ll have to understand I have a job to do and I want to win," he said.
Rookie Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea now has a former quarterback on his scouting staff, Danny McManus, and with the hiring of Pierce another on his coaching staff.
"Buck has been through the trenches as a quarterback in this league. He has great experience, and will be a valued asset to our coaching staff," said O’Shea. "He will be able to relate to our players very well, and the ability to add a former CFL quarterback to our staff was important to us. He will be a great teacher to our running backs and a strength to our offensive staff."
The Bombers now have nine coaches listed on their website and O’Shea says he’ll add two more to get to 11.
"I can’t coach offensive line," laughed O’Shea. "We’ll add a linebackers coach and an offensive line coach. We’re talking to people. This is the most coaches the Bombers have had on staff in a long time. It shows the commitment Wade (Miller) and Kyle (Walters) have to the team in terms of funding and staff. It started for me in the interview process, I asked about the number of dollars we’d have at our disposal. Every position with its own coach teaching the CFL game."
The Bombers have taken a lot of bad press over the past couple of seasons as they’ve been terrible on the field and did not make a smooth transition into their new home. Hiring Pierce is a public relations win.
"We are very excited to welcome Buck back to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. His dedication to our community, our organization, and his passion to be a winner, makes this a great fit for not only our football operations, but our entire organization. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are a better franchise with Buck Pierce a part of it, and I’m very pleased Kyle and Mike were able to bring him on board," said President and CEO Wade Miller.
The Bombers also signed a pair of players today adding import quarterback Robert Marve and import wide receiver Mario Urrutia.
Marve played at Miami (2007-2008) and Purdue University (2010-2012) and completed 389 passes for 3,960 yards with 29 TDs and 25 interceptions throughout his NCAA career.
Urrutia attended Louisville University where he spent three seasons (2005-2007) catching 130 passes for 2,271 yards and 16 TDs. He was drafted by Cincinnati in the 7th Round of the 2008 Draft(246th overall) and spent time in the NFL with New York Jets and Tampa Bay. Urrutia has also had stings in the UFL and Arena Football League with the Utah Blaze catching 142 passes for 1,675 yards and 39 TDs and was named Rookie-of-the-Year in 2013.