- FREE AGENCY
The items on Mike O’Shea’s to-do list are forever changing. And as is the case with any Canadian Football League head coach, the length of that list seldom, if ever, seems to shrink.
The other side of all that is this: When the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach met with the media Friday morning while standing in front of a ‘107th Grey Cup Champions’ backdrop, well, let’s just say there’s a whole different vibe to the usual dreary season-ending address proceedings.
Still radiating from last Sunday’s win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the parade and parties that followed, O’Shea spoke for close to 20 minutes and touched on a number of subjects – some that are fading in the rearview mirror and what lies ahead on the horizon.
Here are the key talking points from the O’Shea session:
On his own status, with his current contract expiring:
“I don’t know if I’ve ever talked contract in front of the media before. We don’t negotiate with the media in the room. I had a good chat this morning and we’ll continue that.”
Asked a follow-up question about how much he wanted to be back, he added:
“We just won a Grey Cup and we’ve got a good group here. It’s been a great journey being a part of this. It’s taken longer than I thought, but it’s neat to be a part of building something. I do like it here.”
And the percentage he would sign a new contract with the Bombers?
“It’s pretty high.”
Further to the above, O’Shea was asked what he appreciates about working for this organization:
“The support’s been pretty damn good. From the top down we’ve got guys that really care. Like any new venture when I first came in here there’s always ways things have always been done and ‘We always do it this way.’ The people who have been around here, been here and left say this is a good organization. But it’s a matter of really starting from the beginning for the validity to it… is this what a good organization does? We’ve managed to do that in a lot of different areas and we’re still searching for those answers. We’re still looking for ways to make it better for players and better for the organization, too.
On offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice reportedly being interviewed for the head coaching vacancies in BC, Edmonton and Ottawa:
“He should be. He’s been excellent. He’s managed to move game plans around and use his talent and the talent on the roster to the best of his abilities and put guys in good positions to allow us to win games and be very successful through the playoff run and through the Grey Cup.”
O’Shea also praised LaPolice’s play-calling – and his entire staff’s work – throughout the playoffs.
“I don’t know if he’d have any regrets. Any good play-caller – offensively, defensively or special-teams wise – will always check for validity after the fact. And I’m sure, for the most our part, our staff won’t have too many regrets for the way the playoffs went, for the way the calls went.”
As well, the Bombers are not only at risk of losing LaPolice and assistant coaches, but scouting/personnel staff, too. Assistant GMs Danny McManus and Ted Goveia, and Director of College Scouting Ryan Rigmaiden have all been linked to the vacant GM job with the Montreal Alouettes:
“I think you’re drawn naturally to champions. There’s a reason why we’ve had success and that’s because there’s a lot of people working very hard to do their jobs and make sure they make this a better place. There are coaches being looked at for other positions. There are players that are being called about and there are staff members that should be looked at to fill other roles and other positions in other organizations.
“We’re starting to realize that that’s what organizations go through every year. I’m sure Calgary has had to put up with this ever single year. It’s a positive.”
O’Shea offered some cool insight when asked to compare the differences between this championship team and some of the others he played or coached for in the past:
“The one thing that stands out that I’ve noted and talked about it on our Day 3 practice (Friday of Grey Cup). I don’t put a lot of stock during a regular week on how a practice goes… if it goes really well does that mean you’re going to win it, if it doesn’t go well does that mean you’re going to lose. So, I’m not so sure when I put a lot of stock into a Day 3 practice during Grey Cup week or why it mattered that much to me.
“But when somebody asks you how you thought it was going to go or when you thought you might have known your guys were ready, I would say trying to pull the reins back on guys on Day 3 when they were animals in practice. It was wild to watch how fast they were going and the pace at which they practised and trying to rein them back in… if you could rely on that as an indicator, that was something else. I really enjoy that, and it was also, ‘Whoa… I don’t know if this is good or not.’ It was pretty neat to see.”
And, finally, here’s O’Shea when asked for his thoughts on the players wild celebration – specifically Chris Streveler and Matt Nichols – that began late last Sunday and has last through Tuesday’s Grey Cup parade right up to this weekend:
“They work so damn hard, they can do whatever they want in my mind. I wish I wore a fur coat and didn’t have a shirt on, either.”