THE Winnipeg Blue Bombers scratched one item off their off-season checklist Tuesday, officially installing Wade Miller as the CEO of the bruised CFL franchise.
Miller, the former Blue Bombers fullback turned entrepreneur, took the reins as acting CEO in August after the club's board fired embattled boss Garth Buchko.
The move now to peel off the "acting" part of Miller's title surprised no one. Though there was never a formal search for other CEO candidates, the board believed Miller was the "man for the job" from the get-go, chair Brock Bulbuck said at a press conference.
Since taking over, Miller has made moves to shake up the Bombers' status quo. He's beefed up the club's corporate communications, overseen expansion of concession services at Investors Group Field and taken to calling season ticketholders to chat about their concerns (top among those was, surprise surprise, the team's disastrous 3-15 performance this season).
"From the very beginning, Wade came in and immediately began to effect positive change," Bulbuck said. "Encompassed in that positive change is a culture of winning, a culture of being fan-focused and sponsor-focused and community-focused, and those are all key ingredients of what this football organization needs. You see it in attitude. You see it in people's personalities, and you see it in the way they carry themselves."
Bulbuck declined to reveal the term on Miller's contract, calling it a "standard" and "appropriate" length for a CEO.
Originally, the board expected to settle Miller's position later down the road, but the CEO is in the midst of some negotiations of his own. Top among them he must nail down an GM -- current acting GM Kyle Walters is in the running -- and then work with that GM to sort out the coaching staff, decisions Miller said are two to four weeks away.
Meanwhile, the board was satisfied enough with what they saw in Miller to pull the trigger on an ongoing deal.
"It's the right time, because we have sufficient validation," Bulbuck said. "Doing that now essentially clears the way for there to be clarity and certainty at the top of the organization, and all the decisions and possible changes that may be forthcoming from that leadership."
Perhaps taking a note from mistakes of the past, those changes will now flow from the CEO himself. Bulbuck stated that Miller will have "free rein" to hire the next GM. He won't require board approval -- something Buchko needed when it came to extending former GM Joe Mack. Miller is also expected to have more input on the football operations side than Buchko did.
"We are a football organization," Bulbuck said. "We would expect the CEO to have sufficient knowledge and input and oversight over those having football authority to be able to assess how they're doing, and be able to critique them... Ultimately letting them make the decision, but ultimately knowing enough and being knowledgeable enough to ensure the organization is making the right decisions and to ensure that those individuals... are the right people."
For his part, Miller did not say whether he would have the final word on coaching hires, just that he would expect the GM to find the right person for the job.
"The general manager's got a role to do in the organization, and I expect them to do that to their best ability," Miller said, when asked if his GM hire would have full autonomy on football decisions. "I'll be involved in football, as anybody would be when it's such a critical part of our business."