Wally's costly fumble

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Wally Buono should be moved to the disabled list for having brain cramps.

We've always been big Buono backers but the B.C. Lions boss pulled a muscle between his ears during his team's 23-20 overtime loss in Regina Sunday. How else can you explain his decision to attempt a punt single on first down in overtime?

The much smarter choice would have been to run the ball twice, then kick a field goal on third down.

After all, isn't that why he signed placekicker Paul McCallum in the off-season?

Besides, a single for a wayward field goal would have been almost guaranteed anyway.

McCallum also happens to own a sensational 93.9% success rate on field goals this season, best in the CFL.

Featured back Joe Smith also had been averaging 6.6 yards per carry against the 'Riders in the game and although he could have fumbled, running the ball to set up the field goal was the only logical decision.

"There's a number of reasons," Buono said afterward, trying to rationalize his decision to shy away from the three-pointer.

"You can have trouble with the exchange, the placement, or hit the crossbar on a field goal."

Is it possible McCallum, a former Roughrider who missed a chip shot in a playoff game two years ago, begged Buono not to make him try the field goal under OT pressure?

The gaffe leaves the Stampeders tied for first place in the West.

BARKER UP WRONG TREE: The rumblings out of Montreal last week that had Stampeders GM Jim Barker set to take over for irascible bench boss Don Matthews was curious.

Although Barker enjoyed a successful stint as Alouettes offensive co-ordinator, winning the Grey Cup in 2002, his closest ties to the team are through Matthews, apparently on his way out the door, not GM Jim Popp, the man doing the hiring.

Barker apparently ruffled some Alouettes' feathers when he came to Calgary as head coach the following season.

He tried to bring with him part of the Als coaching staff, a commonplace scenario in the CFL when a new head coach is hired.

The Als apparently held a grudge. The team had Barker's 2002 Grey Cup ring delivered via an Alouettes equipment man prior to the Stamps' 2003 home opener vs. Montreal.

Now Popp has responded to the Barker rumours with a less-than-eloquent jab at his former employee.

"The next time we have to hire a coach for this organization, it won't be Jim Barker," Popp told a national newspaper.

POINTS AFTER: Ken Lazaruk, a senior CFL official, has been recognized with the Ron Foxcroft Award for demonstrating excellence in officiating ... The Tiger-Cats look like they've found a keeper in rookie DB Lawrence Gordon. He was sensational on the weekend against Edmonton, recording two knockdowns and one pick against Ricky Ray ... Cue the QB controversy in Vancouver. Starter Dave Dickenson has been hampered by injuries on and off all season and now Buck Pierce looked sensational coming off the bench in Regina for Dickenson, who was apparently healthy ... The Eskimos' bleak playoff prospects grew even darker with Winnipeg's win over Montreal. That created a three-way tie for first in the East, leaving the Green and Gold even farther from a cross-over berth should they fail to catch Saskatchewan for third-place in the West.

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GO FIGURE!

160

Rushing yards Stamps' Joffrey Reynolds must average in his final four games to equal Willie Burden's team record of 1,896.

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QUOTABLES

We don't like them and they don't like us. If anything like that happens, there's going to be fights all over the field.

-- B.C. Lions receiver Paris Jackson reacting to a heated exchange with the Saskatchewan Roughriders during pre-game warmups Sunday in Regina.


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