Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 10/30/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Kyle Walters already has the job, is doing the job and should keep the job.
Timing will dictate whether Walters, currently Winnipeg Blue Bombers acting GM, makes such major moves as trading for a starting quarterback and hiring a head coach before any other candidate for GM can be hired and put into place.
Walters will almost certainly be the next GM of the Bombers. Too much is going to happen in the CFL and needs to happen in Winnipeg for Walters not to put his stamp on the Bombers prior to December.
Any credible candidate will look at the Bombers and the results of the moves they plan on making over the next month and reach the conclusion they'd be running Walters' team if they were to step in.
No GM wants to live with the decisions of another. They want freedom to bring in their own people. Winnipeg's situation likely precludes such an opportunity.
Bombers acting CEO Wade Miller, while we're at it why don't we stop pretending the job isn't Miller's and drop the interim tag, is exercising his due diligence and has set a target date of Dec. 1 to name a GM.
"Dec. 1, plus or minus a week. Please don't hold me to an exact date," said Miller, in a phone conversation with the Free Press on Tuesday.
That will be too late for anyone other than Walters, who has major plans and the freedom to execute them, according to Miller.
Kyle will definitely be a part of this organization. Saying that, Kyle is absolutely
in the running for GM'
-- Wade Miller
If the Bombers are going to get in on the act and acquire a quarterback such as Toronto Argonauts up-and-comer Zach Collaros, they'll need to move the moment his team's season ends. Whether the Argos stumble in the East Division final or make it to the Grey Cup, Collaros will be on the market the morning after his team's season ends and that's presuming a handshake deal doesn't get done earlier.
The Bombers must be active now and in discussions with Argos GM Jim Barker about such a deal. Walters is acting GM in Winnipeg, leaving it to him to take up this task.
The same goes with hiring a coach. The Bombers can't wait until a GM is named after the Grey Cup to begin a coaching search. They already have their wish list and the moment one of those men has his season end, and is available for an interview and negotiations, the Bombers must act.
Again, this is left to Walters.
A scenario where Walters both trades for a new starting quarterback and hires a new head coach is not unlikely. Announcing a different GM, in the wake of such moves, is improbable and nonsensical.
Walters will also be in charge of the club's plans for the dispersal-draft, which is scheduled for Dec. 13, said Miller.
"Kyle has a very good understanding of that process and that was made clear to me the first time we sat down," said Miller, who added Walters will be free to make major football decisions such as trading for a quarterback or any possible coaching moves. "Yes. In the structure of our organization we would have discussions first but he would definitely be able to trade for a quarterback or make any football decisions. He has proven he can do that. He's done it three times (made trades) this summer. This is the benefit of making the changes the club did in August. Every process has sped up and isn't starting at the end of the year. So we're in the position to take advantage of all the opportunities this Ottawa dispersal draft puts in front of it."
Walters is a solid candidate. If any of the league's established GMs, Wally Buono, Jim Popp, Barker, Brendan Taman or John Hufnagel were available it would make sense for Miller to wait. But none are available.
Buono told me on Tuesday, "When I make a commitment, I honour it." He's locked up until 2017.
Taman has another year on his deal, Barker recently re-upped, Popp is signed through next season and Hufnagel is signed through 2016.
Miller, who has already spoken with Tom Higgins and Rick Worman, is working the football world to see if there are any off-the-radar candidates.
Higgins is a former GM and head coach in the CFL now employed as the league's director of officiating and told the Free Press on Tuesday he is interested in the position.
Worman has held various offensive coaching posts in the league and is currently employed as quarterbacks coach at Mississippi Valley State University.
"I started the work on this the week after I sat in this chair. I'm not going to get into the specifics of it, but I can assure who I have begun working on deciding who will lead the organization into the future on the football side," said Miller. "It comes down to (a candidate) who has knowledge of the CFL and Canadian football. How to put a roster together and the nuances that are much different in the CFL. Someone who has excellent leadership skills, somebody who can run football operations. Make personnel decisions, manage the salary cap, negotiate contracts, evaluate talent, develop a pipeline full of talent both import and non-imports. A strong personality and a solid work ethic."
Isn't Kyle Walters that person?
"I would say I wouldn't disagree with you that he has a lot of those skills," said Miller. "But at the same time, I said from the beginning, I would be sure to take a look and evaluate all the opportunities available to the Winnipeg Football Club. Kyle will definitely be a part of this organization. Saying that, Kyle is absolutely in the running for GM."
Miller said the GM would report directly to the CEO, who will be involved in football operations.
"It's called the Winnipeg Football Club and it's a football team. I'll definitely be working with our football department and be a part of it," said Miller. "At the end of the day, that's our business."
The clock on any potential opportunities will soon begin to move fast and the Bombers must be in position to take advantage.
"Kyle has done this all throughout the year and he'll have the freedom to make decisions and moves going forward," said Miller.
Walters makes the most sense not only from his position within the organization, which gives him the clearest understanding of what the Bombers need, but also because he's as strong a candidate as there is available.
Good on Miller for turning over every stone. But he's going to find he's already got the man he needs and wants.
email@example.com Twitter: @garylawless
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2013 C4
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