Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–1–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

LaPo slips noose -- for now

Big win buys coach breathing room, but season's far from done

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Paul LAPOLICE will stand in front of his team on Monday morning with a win in his pocket and that's a helluva lot better than being a penniless 0-5 football coach.

A loss Thursday night and LaPolice may have found himself on the edge of a coaching abyss with a fall to rock-bottom only a misstep away.

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Instead, LaPolice has a little more leash and room to operate and coach like a man trying to win games and not just avoid losses. There's a big difference between those two things.

The third-year coach has restored his authority. The whispers were starting to rise this week. Suggestions he was close to losing the room and, worse, the faith of those who control his employment.

The Bombers as an organization are in a terrible spot what with all this stadium silliness and those with the power to cover their own asses may have begun to see LaPolice as a convenient scapegoat.

Those days aren't over completely for LaPolice but they are on hold for the time being.

LaPolice drove home on Thursday night with a win to savour and he should.

He's had the most difficult job of any coach in the CFL to date this season and while he's made his mistakes, the slipshod handiwork of others greatly contributed to his troubles.

The deck was stacked against LaPolice by atrocious decision-making above his head. The ill-advised gamble, and really that is being incredibly generous, to declare last season the final one at Canad Inns Stadium and petition the league for a schedule that opened with four straight on the road kicked the coach right where it counts.

LaPolice said all the right things but going 0-4 to being the season was a distinct possibility. Injuries and GM Joe Mack's decisions to rid the roster of much of its experience added to LaPo's stress.

Getting a win and ending a four-game slide begins the dawn of positive days for LaPolice and his staff. They can begin work on a game plan for the Montreal Alouettes with the immediate edge of having the game scheduled for right here in Winnipeg.

Reprieve

The reprieve is not a season pass, however, and if the Bombers slip to 1-5 with a loss against Montreal, the howling will begin again.

It's just going to be one of those seasons for the coach. He's in a hole and until he can climb out of it he's going to be on clock in the minds of many.

Winning is the only salvation. LaPolice knows this and must live under the burden of it.

So far he's displayed an outward look of calm and even grace.

LaPolice has proven this season he's learned a lot about the big-picture aspect of coaching a pro football team.

Good for him. He's going to need every little scrap of coaching he can muster.

Enjoy the week, coach. You won your last game. That's always a good thing.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 27, 2012 C3

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

 

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