LOST amid the drama on Thursday was the news that another critical piece of the Blue Bombers brain trust will also return in 2013 -- offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton.
Burke offered Crowton the job for next season even before Burke had signed a new contract Thursday morning, testimony to how much faith he has in Crowton.
"He's got an excellent mind," Burke said Thursday, ticking off the highlights of Crowton's resumé -- offensive co-ordinator in the NFL; offensive co-ordinator of a NCAA national champion; NCAA head coach. "He's one of the brightest minds in football. I have tremendous respect for him...
"I make this prediction. He's going to do a great job and he'll be a head coach in this league, if he wants to be."
While the Bombers offence struggled through the first half of the season as the revolving door at quarterback spun, Crowton's scheme gained traction in the latter half of the season and was, by several different measures, the leading offence in the CFL in the five games prior to the loss in Hamilton last weekend that eliminated the Bombers from the playoffs.
"I want to come back. We've got some things going," Crowton said this week. "And I feel like, especially the latter part of the season, we've been starting to get things going in the right direction. I'd like to continue to finish what we started.
"That's what our goal is. That was my goal from the beginning, to get there by the end of the year. I wished I'd got there sooner, but right now I feel like we're going in the right direction."
Asked what the turning point was, Crowton pointed directly to the moment in late August when the club fired head coach Paul LaPolice, who players and coaches have since said was meddling in the offence.
"When I first took over after coach LaPolice left, I made a decision to change some things that I felt might take some time... Obviously we didn't look very good in a couple of those early games, but I believed in what we were doing."
The Bombers lost the first three games after LaPolice was fired -- twice in embarrassing blowouts -- but Crowton said he felt like the series of what he described as "subtle changes" he implemented began to take root after that.
"I think probably every game got a little bit better. The first game against Saskatchewan was terrible, the next one was a little better... I just felt the more I was working on things, the more I was watching, the more the players were seeing what I wanted to do.
"They're just subtle changes -- angles of routes, whether we stay on the route or break it off -- stuff like that. I gave the quarterbacks a few more options at the line of scrimmage. With Buck, I could do that. And the young guys were starting to get it too."