Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–10–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burke not the type to get stressed out

In second year as Blue boss, knows what can, can't be done

  • Print
Winnipeg Blue Bombers' head coach Tim Burke may be even too honest for his own good.

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' head coach Tim Burke may be even too honest for his own good.

TIM Burke is a rookie head coach no longer.

As the clock struck midnight on Sunday with Burke still in the gainful employ of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the team's field boss is officially in his second year as a head coach.

It was exactly a year ago Sunday, of course, the Bombers tied the can to former head coach Paul LaPolice and replaced him with Burke, who until then had been a wildly successful defensive co-ordinator but never a head coach.

If Burke was a bit jumpy when the phone rang Sunday, it would have been hard to blame him. Consider:

LaPolice actually had a better record than Burke does -- 2-6 versus 1-7 -- the day he was fired; LaPolice's Bombers had only narrowly lost to the B.C. Lions -- the best team in the CFL at the time -- the night before he got canned, while Burke's Bombers just got roasted 37-14 on Saturday by a marginal Hamilton Tiger-Cats squad; and LaPolice was less than a season removed from a 2011 Grey Cup appearance, while Burke was 4-6 in relief of LaPolice last season and his team missed the 2012 playoffs.

But with Aug. 25 having now come and gone this year without another Bombers coaching change, the question today is what three things have we learned about Tim Burke -- the man and the coach -- in the full year he's now been the boss of the CFL's most embattled franchise?

1. Burke is honest. Maybe even a bit too honest for his own good.

He raised some eyebrows a couple of weeks back when he told the media he was leaving the decision about who would be the starting quarterback to Gary Crowton, his offensive co-ordinator at the time.

Now, choosing your starting quarterback is perhaps the most important decision for any football team, and so Burke saying he was leaving it up to Crowton sort of seemed like a bit of an abdication of his responsibilities.

But not really. You don't think Lions head coach Mike Benevides -- another former defensive guy who took over head-coaching duties -- leaves the big decisions on offence up to his OC, Jacques Chapdelaine? Of course he does.

But the difference is Benevides is much more circumspect in what he tells the media and would never -- like Burke did a couple a weeks ago -- create even a sliver of doubt about who was running the show in Vancouver.

Of course, the other way of looking at that little episode is Burke -- in abdicating the decision to Crowton -- was simply giving the guy enough rope to hang himself, which was promptly what happened last weekend when Crowton was fired.

Crazy? Like a fox, maybe.

2. Burke is not nearly the fiery hard-ass he wants you to think he is.

Yes, there was a moment during training camp this year in which Burke lined his troops up on the goal-line and lit into them using language that had little old ladies across the city spontaneously making the sign of the cross.

And yes, Burke is not afraid to call a player out publicly for his poor play.

But for the most part, he is gentle, self-deprecating and easygoing, a man who is quick with a joke and actually surprisingly difficult to anger.

For example, in my experience as a sportswriter, nothing ever lights a coach's fuse like when a reporter questions his in-game management or a particular call following a loss. I maintain, for instance, that the reduced hearing in my right ear is the result of the night in Sioux City I made the mistake of asking then-Goldeyes manager Hal Lanier why he gave the green light to a runner who promptly got thrown out at home by 30 feet.

But not Burke, who will stand in with good humour and patiently answer even the most condescending questions from even the stupidest people in the room, night after night after night.

I couldn't do it.

3. Burke has found serenity. It will serve him well as this thing continues to unravel.

You know when American presidents first take office and they look all young and vibrant and full of vigour? And then a couple of years later, you notice how they're all grey and their eyes are sunk into the sockets and they walk stooped over, like they're carrying a sack of flour?

That happens to football head coaches too. But it won't happen to Burke.

What has become clear in recent weeks is that Burke has both recognized and accepted there is only so much he can do to change a gong show of a football team that he inherited from a GM who didn't know what the heck he was doing.

Now, you can argue that maybe Burke's been too accepting, that the tiny roster changes he's made in recent weeks as his team has been engulfed in flames is like a fireman using a garden hose to put out a fully-involved highrise.

But whether his approach has been right or wrong, you cannot help but conclude when the phone call finally comes, telling him his services will no longer be required by the Bombers, Burke won't lose much sleep over it.

Burke said following the loss in Hamilton on the weekend that he feels like he's doing the best he can with what he's got. That hasn't been very good, but neither is what he's got.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 26, 2013 C1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

HSC ready for Ebola

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goose sits in high grass near Marion Friday afternoon for cover -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 18 - May 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose flies towards the sun near the Perimeter Highway North and Main St Monday afternoon – See Day 10 for Bryksa’s 30 goose project - May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

 

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google