HAMILTON — As the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head for Thursday night’s game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, new head coach Mike O’Shea is getting a lot of questions — and credit — for the team’s fine 4-1 start.
O’Shea was dashing away from those questions today as he met with reporters prior to the CFL game at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University.
"Undeserved," O’Shea said, cutting off a question about the praise he’s been getting for turning the Bombers around. "We’ve got a good group of players. We’ve got good leadership at the top from Wade (Miller, CEO) and Kyle (Walters, GM) and a great coaching staff that’s got great buy-in from the guys.
"Down from the there at the root of it all are the players we have in the locker room that easily buy in and have obviously done what the coaches are putting in front of them."
The new head coach fairly tried to make himself sound like a paper pusher when he was asked what the difference is between his former job as special teams co-ordinator in Toronto and the head coaching spot in Winnipeg.
"Busier with more administrative duties," he said with a straight face.
"Is that a bad thing?" he was asked.
"Well, it’s not as much fun as coaching," he said. "I was warned that once you become a head coach, you’re not really a coach. You don’t do the X’s and O’s as much. I like still learning about football.
"It’s a part of the deal. There’s no way around it. When you sign up for this job, you know you’re getting into areas that maybe you’re not familiar with and you just have to learn as you go.
"You get good people around you and make sure you’re not making mistakes."
Neither was O’Shea taking any credit for the "buy-in" of his players in 2014.
"Those aren’t my systems," he said. "I’ve hired co-ordinators to do their jobs, to fill in the gaps I have. The guys I’ve hired are the ones that are driving this.
"Culture is very important but ultimately it comes from the players."
Asked what he was most proud of in the season’s first five weeks, O’Shea said: "I don’t have an answer for you on that."
One thing today that O’Shea did want to talk about was how serious he and the Bombers are about winning.
"Just because we have different titles doesn’t mean we aren’t all responsible for the same thing, which is winning," he said. "So if somebody has a good idea, they need to share it. If somebody catches me making a mistake, they need to let me know because there are so many other guys that depend on that, so you don’t keep your mouth shut because you have a different title or what’s percevied to be a lower title.
"There are too many players that work too hard to let something slide and then say (something) afterward."
Defensive tackle Bryant Turner wasn’t about to enter the fray about who gets credit for the Bombers’ 4-1 record, but he did share one opinion today.
"This is a totally different atmosphere," Turner said. "The locker room’s a completely different place. It’s one of the best locker rooms I’ve been in. Guys older than me, (Glenn) January, Greg Peach, they’ll tell you too.
"We don’t really have any cancers, nobody bringing the team down. It’s a big-picture focus of being better and you can definitely see it."