MONTREAL — Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke continued here on Sunday to make his case to stay on as Bombers head coach next season.
Burke raised some eyebrows when he told reporters in Winnipeg last week that he felt he has earned an opportunity to lead the Bombers again in 2014 and he was asked to expand on those comments here on Sunday by Montreal Gazette football writer Herb Zurkowsky.
"I’d like to have a chance to work with a team that has more of its pieces put together. I think it would have been tough for anyone to have handled what we’ve gone through," replied Burke, whose team will play against the Montreal Alouettes here Monday afternoon.
"The reason I would state my case is because I believe the team has competed hard every week. I believe we have put forth the energy necessary to be a competitive football team. Nobody’s ever given up — we’re just not good enough."
Burke — who has led Winnipeg to a 6-18 overall record since taking over the club in August 2012 — was asked if he understood that Bombers fans might demand that the club’s management clean house this off-season.
"Sure, I do — clean slate and all of that kind of stuff. That’s up to them."
Burke — who famously said earlier this season that "you cannot win the Kentucky Derby with a mule" — laughed when he was asked how many mules are on his current 42-man roster.
"We’ve got some personnel deficiencies and some of them are clumped into position groups. So we just have to get better."
Burke was also asked if he had any regrets that this dysfuntional Bombers team is the one he’s had to lead after waiting a lifetime for his first head coach job.
"Certainly, you’d want to inherit a team that’s geared up for the Grey Cup. But it’s been a great experience, just working with the players. I think we have a great group of guys. I think we have high-character guys. So that’s been a real pleasure for me.
"The Bombers organization is great. The fans are fantastic... And I can hold my head up high and say I’ve done everything I could to try and win football games... And I would say that the things I’m happy about myself is I didn’t let the pressure get to me. And I’ve been able to take it one day at a time, which is the old zen way of looking at life. So I feel good about those things."
While the Bombers are still technically alive for a playoff spot — they need to win all four of their final games and have Montreal lose all four of theirs — Bombers QB Max Hall says no one is being naive.
"I don’t think we’ve forgotten about (the playoffs)," said Hall, who will get his fourth straight start Monday afternoon. "But the odds are not high. Yes, we’re still playing and playing to win games. But the reality of the situation is with four games left, we’re also fighting for jobs. That’s just the reality of the situation."
The Bombers will make a total of five changes to their 42-man roster for Monday’s game. The big ones will be on the defensive line where J.D. Griggs will replace Alex Hall (traded) at defensive end and J.T. Gilmore will replace Zach Anderson (sick) at tackle. In other changes, slotback Terrence Edwards will be back on the roster while Wallace Miles will be off; special-teamer Phillipe Dubuisson will be on the roster while Chris Cvetokovic is off; and DB Demond Washington will rejoin on the roster, while Marty Markett is now done for the year with a foot injury and is off.