FRIESEN: Pundits choosing Bombers; actual consultants not so certain


It’s the eve of one other CFL season, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are the attractive option to win all of it.

Maybe the so-called consultants are merely getting uninterested in anointing the Calgary Stampdeders.

How else do you clarify it?

This can be a franchise that hasn’t sipped suds from Earl Gray’s mug for the reason that Hubble Telescope was launched.

In that 28-year reign of failure, 11 males have signed as much as be the pinnacle coach, cobbling collectively a pithy 234-268-2 document, mixed.

Dave Ritchie lasted the longest, at five-plus years, and got here the closest to vanquishing the drought with a 14-Four juggernaut in 2001, solely to provide you with the Large Choke within the Large O.

If Mike O’Shea lasts greater than seven video games this season, and we’ve got no motive to imagine he received’t, he’ll surpass Ritchie because the longest-serving front-man of the famine.

So the place do all Bomber coaches go after they get fired or retire?

To Bud’s Diner, in fact.

From the skin, Bud’s is your run-of-the-mill greasy spoon. However step by the creaking wood door and also you’ll see it’s actually a strolling, speaking piece of Blue Bomber historical past.

The partitions are lined with black-and-white pictures of greats like Fritz Hanson, Herb Grey, Leo Lewis and Ken Ploen. There’s a leather-based helmet hanging right here, an outdated tattered sweater there.

However it is a residing museum, too, a spot reserved for coaches, from Reg Threlfall and Bob Fritz of the 1930’s and ’40’s to Cal Murphy and Mike Riley of the ’80’s and ’90’s.

The place is known as after Bud Grant, the very best of the bunch, on the helm for 4 of the 10 Gray Cup titles within the crew’s 89-year historical past.

You don’t should be a Gray Cup winner to have a sales space at Bud’s Diner, however you get a greater desk in case you are.

I paid a go to this week to see what the true consultants should say in regards to the Bombers’ possibilities this 12 months.

* * *

It a sunny day, and Bud’s is bustling. Appears the beginning of one other season nonetheless will get the blood flowing for these guys.

I slide right into a sales space close to the entrance, subsequent to the place Murphy and Riley are yakking. Who higher to listen in on than these two, who mixed for 3 Gray Cups, together with the final one?

Sitting with them is Bud Riley, Mike’s dad, who had a a lot much less profitable four-year run within the ’70s.

“That is gonna be the 12 months,” Bud drawled, slamming his first on the desk for emphasis.

“What makes you say that, pops?” the child puzzled aloud.

“They’ve acquired all of the horses,” Bud mentioned. “You’ll be able to’t win with out the horses.”

That’s a standard chorus in right here, and the final feeling is O’Shea is holding the reins of a crew of Clydesdales that may make Budweiser blush.

“However does he know when to tug, when to steer and when to slap ’em on the ass?”

It’s Kindly Cal, a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his mug.

Previous-school as they arrive, Cal believes O’Shea isn’t sufficient of a hardass.

Riley, the child, shakes his head.

“These days are gone,” he says.

Bud agrees together with his son, and now the following sales space is in on it.

“By no means thoughts cracking the whip,” Threlfall says. “Can O’Shea keep away from cracking beneath stress?”

Threlfall received Cups in ’39 and ’41 and has the very best successful proportion in crew historical past.

Sensible as a whip, the man was charting opponent’s performs and sending spies to observe practises earlier than anyone had ever dreamed of sport movie or the web.

He and Fritz, who received it in ’35, are nonetheless shaking their heads over a number of the choices O’Shea has made in playoff video games, notably the decision for a 61-yard area objective in B.C. a pair years again.

Fritz factors out O’Shea’s lieutenants haven’t precisely wrapped themselves in glory at crunch-time, both.

“Coach LaPo’s play-calling was as uninteresting as dishwater in Calgary,” Fritz says, referring to final 12 months’s West Ultimate, through which the Bomber offence by no means discovered the top zone.
“At the least he’s acquired a kicker,” Doug Berry chimes in from just a few cubicles again.

“Westwood wasn’t your drawback, Doug,” Kindly Cal says. “You’d have a burger named after you in right here if Kevin Glenn hadn’t determined to dive for a free ball and break his arm. You’ll be able to’t win with out the QB. I ought to know. I’d have one other ring if Dunigan had stayed in a single piece in ’94.”

Heads nod. Everyone in right here is aware of how necessary the quarterback is. Significantly Jeff Reinebold and Mike Kelly, seated close to the again.

“Nichols has to remain upright,” Threlfall says. “That Streveler child isn’t prepared for prime time. And Coach LaPo’s gotta unfold that ball round.”

“Everyone’s gotta test their egos on the door,” Ritchie pipes up. “Together with Matthews. I don’t care if he performed in a Tremendous Bowl. That new child, Fortunate What’s-His-Title, has gotta get the ball. Even when he’s a CFL rookie.”

At this level any individual brings up the ’01 Gray Cup. Any individual at all times appears to deliver up the ’01 Gray Cup.

“Who’s the genius who gave Charles Roberts the ball simply eight instances as a result of he was a rookie?” Frank Larson asks.

Larson’s 1950 squad was upset within the massive sport, like Ritchie’s was half a century later.

“When doubtful, blame the coordinator,” Ritchie snorts.

Everyone laughs.

I’ve heard sufficient, so I sneak out the door into the daylight.

On my means out I move a sales space proper up entrance, the nicest spot within the place, subsequent to a giant window with a view of the garden.

The desk, coated in mud, is reserved for the following man who brings a championship to Winnipeg.

The blokes at Bud’s all agree it’s sat empty far too lengthy.

pfriesen@postmedia.com

Twitter: @friesensunmedia