Burris could send old boss packing

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

The playoff motto 'win or go home' has to be striking a nerve with Danny Barrett.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach could be sent packing if his team loses tomorrow's CFL West semifinal against the hometown Calgary Stampeders (2 p.m., McMahon Stadium), ending his seven-year tenure with the Green Machine.

How ironic it would be then if his former quarterback, Henry Burris, is the one showing Barrett the door. Especially since Burris hinted yesterday Barrett would have preferred to keep the Stamps starter in Green and White.

"Probably but you never know," said Burris, who signed with the Stampeders as a free agent in 2005.

"What's said to your face can be different than what's said behind your back.

"That was one of the hardest things to deal with when we went through that whole situation there."

Just one winning season during Barrett's reign, three straight 9-9 campaigns and no home playoff dates is hardly a track record that provides job security. Making matters worse was the dismissal in August of GM Roy Shivers, who hired Barrett in 2000.

Shivers' replacement, Eric Tillman, has said all the right things about evaluating Barrett at the end of the season but lose tomorrow's West semi and the 'Riders will be changing personnel faster than Gainer the Gopher alters his travel plans.

A year after Burris left Regina, Shivers and the 'Riders drafted Joseph, a refugee from the Ottawa Renegades dispersal draft. The results have been no better.

"Kerry's getting $350,000, that's the guy Roy wanted and that's the guy they've got," Burris said.

"Kerry's a great quarterback and I expect them to do big things. He's a phenomenal athlete, blessed with great athletic ability and a strong arm."

Burris said he no longer enjoys a close relationship with Barrett and was miffed his former boss took a verbal shot at his one-time quarterback when the teams met early this season. That day, Burris passed for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a 53-36 Calgary win.

"He's said some things that threw me off a little bit," Burris recalled.

"The first regular-season game when he said, 'Henry's going to come out here and throw a couple of interceptions and we're going to run off with this thing.' Then, after the game he said, 'All the things Henry did, we taught him to do.' Which is it?

"He's trashed me publicly as an opposing coach but as a friend it's a different situation. As a player, I try to trash him on the field by beating his team and that's all I can do."

Burris said he can't allow thoughts of his former coach to get in his way now.

Expectations are also high in Calgary where anything short of a Grey Cup berth would be deemed a failure.

"I had a great time with Danny, he was a guy who believed in me and that's all you can ask for as a quarterback," Burris said.

"Even when I came here, he was a guy who still believed in me. Behind closed doors, he told me that but when it came time to represent his team, he had to take that road and I respect that.

"In 2004 (with Saskatchewan), we rallied and won our last seven or eight games, went the Western final and should have gone to the Grey Cup. If we had been there it might be different for him than it is this week.

"There's never any ill will or hard feelings because he has a job to do."

But not for much longer should Burris and the Stampeders have their way tomorrow.


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