November 21, 2007

Grey Cup coaches answer sex question

TORONTO (CP) — Head coach Doug Berry has no problem with his Winnipeg Blue Bombers players scoring off the field during Grey Cup week, so long as it’s on their own.

When asked the traditional coaches news conference question regarding players engaging in sex leading up to the big game, a smiling Berry had a saucy reply.

“If it’s with themselves . . . ,” he said to thunderous laughter Wednesday morning. “You ask a question you’re going to get that kind of an answer.”

Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Kent Austin had a more imaginative response.

“Well, I’m glad you brought that up because we take this very seriously,” he said. “Matter of fact, we’ve taken some extra measures with our club.

“We’ve gone to the expense of putting surveillance cameras into each of the rooms. We’ve also 60-65 private investigators to track them all day long, to watch where they go and who they interact with.”

GAME OFFICIALS: Referee Glen Johnson will make his eighth Grey Cup appearance Sunday when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders square off at Rogers Centre (6 p.m., ET).

Johnson, from Toronto, is in his 18th CFL season and will head up this year’s officiating crew. He has appeared in 311 career games.

Umpire Bill Hagans, a 19-year veteran from Toronto, will make his seventh Grey Cup appearance. Head linesman Don Cousens, of Kirkland Lake, Ont., will call the fourth career CFL championship game of his 10-year career. The line judge will be Boris Velcic of Calgary, a 17-year veteran appearing in his third Grey Cup.

Heinz (Woody) Brademann, a 17-year veteran from Sherwood Park, Alta., working his fifth Grey Cup, will be the side judge. Back judge Don Ellis, a 26-year veteran from Newmarket, Ont., will make his ninth Grey Cup appearance while field judge Kim Murphy, of Beamsville, Ont., in his 14th CFL season, was named to his sixth Grey Cup game.

The alternates are Jack Ireland of Townsend, Ont., a 29-year CFL veteran, and Jason Maggio of Oakville, Ont., a six-year veteran who will be involved in his first Grey Cup game.

RIDERS TO CALL TOSS: The Saskatchewan Roughriders were designated the visiting team for the Grey Cup game Sunday.

As the visitors, the Riders will call the coin toss at the start of the game to determine which club receives the opening kickoff. Should the Grey Cup contest require overtime, Saskatchewan will again call the toss.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be deemed the home team for the game and wear their dark jerseys while the Riders won don their white and green uniforms.

THANKS, COACH: When Kent Austin retired following the ’96 season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, he left football to go into private business.

But that all changed in 2002 when Austin got a call from his former coach at Brentwood Academy, a Christian high school in Tennessee to come and help as a volunteer coach.

“At first I said I couldn’t because I didn’t have time,” Austin said. “But then I thought about what he had meant to me and what the school mean to me as both me and my wife graduated from there.

“So I decided to go out and help him and that year we went to the state final and got beat but the football bug hit me again. When I left football in ’96 I went completely cold turkey because I didn’t want to be one of those guys that said, ‘Oh, I’m going to come out of retirement and play,’ and try it two or three times. Credit my high school football coach for bringing me back in.

“It was that year that my wife said after that season, ‘You know, Kent, this is the happiest I’ve seen you since you left football,’ She was the one who actually encouraged me to get back into coaching.”

Austin returned to the CFL as the Ottawa Renegades quarterbacks coach in 2003 before becoming the Toronto Argonauts’ offensive co-ordinator the following season. The Argos captured the Grey Cup that year, then in ’05 quarterback Damon Allen was named the league’s outstanding player.

However, the Argos fired Austin midway through the ’06 season. In the off-season, he was hired as the Roughriders head coach.

HAPPY TIMES: Doug Berry of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers finds himself in his first Grey Cup as a head coach, but he has plenty of previous experience in the CFL’s biggest game during his time as an assistant coach with the Montreal Alouettes.

Berry spent six seasons in Montreal, first as the club’s offensive line coach before being promoted to offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2003. During Berry’s tenure, the Alouettes appeared in four Grey Cups (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005), winning once.

When Berry was the offensive line coach, Alouettes running back Mike Pringle won CFL rushing titles in ’99 and 2000. In 2003 with Berry as the offensive co-ordinator, quarterback Anthony Calvillo threw for 5,891 yards with 37 touchdowns. The following season. Calvillo had 6,041 passing yards.

But he left Montreal on Dec. 15, 2005 to sign a multi-year contract as Winnipeg’s head coach. He led the Bombers to a 9-9 record last year and their first playoff appearance since 2003. This season, the Bombers finished second in the East Division with a 10-7-1 but advanced to the Grey Cup with playoff wins over Montreal and Toronto.

However, Berry said he will always have a soft spot for Montreal.

“I miss that organization,” Berry said Wednesday. “I really think it’s a great place for coaches to coach at.

“I just felt when I took the interview with Winnipeg it was time for me to get involved with a place that I also believed had an opportunity to win, that was going to make a commitment to be winners.”