CFL Blitz: Can Tim Burke get Blue Bombers rolling?

Blue Bombers interim head coach Tim Burke during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man.,...

Blue Bombers interim head coach Tim Burke during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Aug. 28, 2012. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:53 AM ET

The reaction to Paul LaPolice’s firing throughout the CFL was nearly unanimous in its negativity, but there might not be anyone more upset than those within the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Certainly, they don’t feel bad seeing one of their biggest rivals struggle enough to fire their head coach.

They are just thinking, “Did it have to be right before Labour Day?”

A year ago at this time, it was the Roughriders making a coaching switch, letting Greg Marshall go and replacing him with Ken Miller.

The Riders promptly went on a three-game win streak, rolling through the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Labour Day and the Banjo Bowl.

Could the same thing happen with Tim Burke guiding the Bombers into Regina Sunday?

“That’s going to be tough,” Riders coach Corey Chamblin said. “You don’t know what changes Tim will make and what his mindset will be.

“He’s an aggressive coach, but you don’t know what he likes to do. It’s a change where we have to prepare for what they’ve done and move from there.”

Usually, when a coaching change is made, there is a quick, short bump in success, but it takes longer to turn the ship around completely.

Among the eight remaining CFL franchises, this is the 54th mid-season head-coaching change, and among those, only three times has that team made the Grey Cup that season.

Twice, the new head man led the team to a victory — Steve Buratto in 2000 and Joe Faragalli in 1989 — so there are long odds the Bombers return to the Grey Cup this November.

This is the third time in Bombers’ history they’ve fired a head coach during the season. Each time there were marginal improvements, but neither time did Winnipeg make the playoffs.

In 1998, Gary Hoffman had a .250 win percentage after taking over Jeff Reinebold’s 2-12 Bombers. In 2005, Jim Daley picked up the pieces from Dave Ritchie’s 2-5 team.

Daley led the Bombers to a 5-6 mark the rest of the way, but the team regressed the following season.

Burke might have better success, but unlike the Riders a year ago, he doesn’t have his No. 1 quarterback available.

It’s simple to understand why the Bombers struggled this season. They lost too many veterans, either through free agency, retirement or outright releases, and didn’t replace them adequately.

They also put their faith in quarterback Buck Pierce, and he’s made only three starts, due to injury.

Bombers GM Joe Mack pulled the trigger on this move, and now he’s in the crosshairs. Whether he’s around when this team starts winning again is the big question.

EXTRA POINTS

Now that Burke is the head coach of the Blue Bombers, the only bench bosses who haven’t spent time as assistants in Calgary are Marc Trestman and Kavis Reed. Everyone else went through the Stampeders at some point … Luckily for the Tiger-Cats, they are done in Montreal, at least until playoffs. The Ticats have a 15-game regular-season losing streak at Molson Stadium. They have a one-game playoff run going, though … Getting booed for a drop woke something in Riders R Chris Getzlaf. It’s always a shock when you draw the ire of your own fans, especially when it’s a local product like Getzlaf, but the veteran receiver responded. He managed to grab six passes for 86 yards against the Stamps in a game in which the biggest boos came after his drop … Although he made a case for catch of the year with a one-handed grab against the Argos Monday, Fred Stamps doesn’t seem to go a game without taking a devastating hit. Argos DB Pat Watkins put a hard shoulder into his ribcage Monday and Stamps had to be helped off. Stamps proved his toughness last year, getting kicked hard in the groin (eventually losing a testicle) but continuing to play, but at some point this has to stop, right?

“He’s like the Timex watch when we were younger. You throw them around and it keeps ticking,” Eskimos head coach Reed said … The Stamps and Esks have to wonder what they did to deserve each other three times in five weeks — again. Two years ago, the Battle of Alberta was played out three times in four games (five weeks with bye) and

Calgary won by a combined 144-40. It should be closer this time. The four-game series over the next 10 games could decide who hosts a playoff game in the West.

“The CFL knew they could have thrown a game early,” Stamps middle linebacker Juwan Simpson said. “Those are our rivals, so we know we have to play them. At least we don’t have to go far. They are right up the street.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNIanBusby


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