Friday was Buono at his best

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

To watch the B.C. Lions flatten the Montreal Alouettes Friday night was to see Wally Buono at his best.

The veteran head coach's talents surfaced, as usual, when things were tough. Quarterback Jarious Jackson couldn't hit a wall with his early passes, so Buono made changes all over the place.

As soon as the Lions started to run the ball, Montreal started to head for the exit.

Jackson started throwing accurately, too.

Not once, it's worth noting, was Jackson hauled off to the sideline with the ball deep in Montreal territory.

Obviously, the Lions don't have hidden weapons like the green kids who line up behind Ricky Ray, the Eskimos' best offensive weapon, whenever they start smelling pay dirt.

Remember when Jacques Chapdelaine was heralded as a budding wizard when he arrived from B.C. to take over as Danny Maciocia's offensive coordinator?

It's interesting that the Eskimos are still predictable, still feed the ball to running backs whose feet are anchored just as they did last year, and still replace their all-star quarterback with unproven talent at the most vital times.

Really, I don't think Buono would do that.

For that matter, neither would Tom Higgins.

Watch the Labour Day game and you'll see what I mean.

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Dan Orlich is a puzzling man.

In all of our one-on-one conversations, he has been bright and charming and full of information.

I've enjoyed the time we spent. He says all the right things without leaving the impression that he's engaged in a con job.

He is an undeniable success in business.

Yet, his Edmonton Cracker-Cats continue as a disaster in every possible way.

They can't win, they can't draw new fans and, on most nights at Telus Field, they can't get season-ticket holders to park their butts in seats already paid for. They have turned away numerous valuable employees and have watched other top-notchers leave for various reasons.

It has been that way for three years and Orlich's comments this week leave the impression that he has things headed in the same sad direction for the 2008 season.

"We need someone to market the team," he said.

No doubt about that.

Someone should tell this likable man that bad organizations in sports and business share one overwhelming factor: they lack leadership from the guys and gals at the top.

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John Farlinger, the over-achieving former defensive back who helps to anchor a valuable Eskimos alumni group, got terrific news the other day from two who made major contributions on the field years ago.

Defensive back Pete Lavorato and ex-coach Ray Jauch, both transplanted to the United States, both offered to help financially and in any other way possible. Jauch's act was all the more remarkable because he recently suffered a stroke.

The alumni did what it could - and more than was expected - to help former teammates Bill Stephenson, York Henschel and David Boone in the difficult late days of their lives. Members also inaugurated the Jackie Parker golf tournament.

This work was started by ex-players, not the Eskimos organization, and will continue because Farley and Tom Wilkinson and Tom Richards and dozens of solid humans are committed to it.


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