Joe Mack, should it come to this, shouldn't be allowed to fire Paul LaPolice.
If the 1-5 Bombers continue to slide and the time comes for change at the top, the head coach should not be the scapegoat. It should be a package deal. If one goes, they both go.
Make no mistake, LaPolice is on the clock. The Bombers board of directors is getting restless with all this losing and if it continues they'll begin to apply heat on Mack. They'll want answers and action.
The board isn't scheduled to meet again until Aug. 21 but a loss Thursday night to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, in particular a listless one such as the non-effort put forth against the Montreal Alouettes prior to the bye week, could force an emergency session.
There's a sentiment among the board that the club is burning through its goodwill in the community and with a new stadium and a yearly $4-million debt commitment coming up fast, that's a very uncomfortable situation.
The Bombers are in the football business and the on-field product is the engine. Nine straight sellouts would suggest things are still rosy with the ticket-buying public, but marketing is all about what's next. Keep losing and the sellouts will end. Guaranteed. The organization wants momentum moving into its new building, not dissent in the community.
Sooner or later this trend will result in change and most often the head coach is the one that goes. I can tell you this, Mack isn't going to step up one day and resign, claiming it's all on him. If the board demands change, he'll throw LaPolice overboard.
And that would be an injustice.
Mack has not done enough to help LaPolice and earn a free pass if change is deemed necessary. Most GMs are given at least one head-coach firing before they are forced to answer for their own misdeeds. But Mack's fingerprints are all over this Blue Bombers roster and he owns a full share of the blame for what's gone wrong this season in Winnipeg.
Some would argue Mack is ahead of LaPolice in the blame department after he whiffed in free agency this past off-season. Regardless, these two are a package deal. They came in that way, have operated that way and should be held accountable in that way.
Clipping the pair would be expensive. LaPolice has this year plus two more in the $230,000 range and Mack has the same term in the neighbourhood of $250,000 a year. So it's close to a million-dollar touch for the organization to start anew.
The Bombers are bad. But are they bad because LaPolice has misused good players or because he's been forced to try and win with an inferior roster?
There's a very clear distinction here. LaPolice coaches what he's given. Mack is in charge of the roster. His job is to draft, sign and trade for players to put together a competitive roster. That hasn't happened under his watch but for an eight-game stretch early in the 2011 season.
The Bombers are 15-27 in three seasons with these two men running the operation. The first year was a writeoff as they went 4-14 while Mack retooled. Last season they broke out to a 7-1 mark and hung on to earn a home playoff game, which they turned into a Grey Cup berth.
Whatever progress was made last season has dissipated and this season has been a complete disaster. In fact, since starting 2011 with a 7-1 run the club has gone 4-12. Stinky.
The organization has no plan at quarterback and its Canadian talent is not producing. In the CFL, that's game, set and match.
LaPolice is a good man. He works hard and represents the organization well. I can't say he's a good coach. The numbers just don't support that statement. But I can't determine if he's struggling due to a lack of talent on his roster or his own misdeeds. I'd venture to guess it's a little of both.
So if the board determines they need to start from scratch, it's difficult to make a case for LaPolice staying. But it's very clear this doesn't fall on his shoulders alone.
The GM gets the players. The coach coaches them.
LaPolice has a partner in Mack and what happens to the coach should happen to the GM.
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @garylawless
Three and out? Regime's season totals
Joe Mack and Paul LaPolice were both hired for the 2010 season. A look back at how they've done:
|2010||4||14||0||464||485||Last in East|
|2011||10||8||0||432||432||First in East - lost Grey Cup final|
|2012||1||5||0||127||199||Last in East|
Combined results: 15 wins, 27 losses, 1,023 points for, 1,116 points against.