Lions, Eskimos troubles fly under radar

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:30 PM ET

Espionage was almost a welcome change of topic for Richie Hall and Wally Buono yesterday.

Hall didn’t have to talk as much about Akree Whitlock’s disastrous debut or his Edmonton Eskimos giving up 50 points in the last game.

And Buono didn’t have to talk about his B.C. Lions being 0-2 going into tomorrow’s retro game here.

The spy scandal involving Winnipeg scout Ron Trentini getting caught spying by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was the story of the day and you couldn’t help but come away figuring Hall vs. Buono would be the least likely Spy vs. Spy match-up on the schedule this week.

Hall says he can’t imagine Buono running a spy ring.

‘I’D BE SURPRISED’

“Wally? I’d be surprised,” he said of the coach who is five wins away from the league record.

“That’s what I think of the man. I think he’s a great man. He knows how to deal with people. He loves what he does and doing it right is really important to him.”

Other coaches in the league?

“This is not the first time and it’s not going to be the last.

“I’ve heard of it through the course of my career,” admitted Hall, who says spying, to him, “goes away from the integrity of the game.

“There are always people out there who bend the rules. Everyone out there is looking for an advantage. I’m going to look at every bit of information anybody gives me. It’s a human characteristic we all have. Everyone knows someone in another city. But in the end it’s the integrity of the game.

“It’s not worth it. I want us to be a success. But I want to do it the right way, not at all costs.”

He also doesn’t think it’s worth the effort.

“To me, I really don’t care. I can just give you the playbook.

“You don’t know what the play is that I want to run. If you don’t know exactly during the course of the game when they’d make the plays, how much good is it?

“There are tips you get, but for the most part what you take off the film is what you’re going to get.”

That inspired the question about why the Eskimos don’t allow local TV types to shoot most parts of their practice. Near-physical confrontations involving assistant coach Dan Kepley and cameramen have happened.

“That’s a good question,” he said.

He offered no good answer.

Prof. Buono went on at length on the subject of spying saying there are so many different forms of it, beginning by pointing out that he was at that very moment in a nest of spies.

“When the media writes that this guy practised today and this guy didn’t practise, that’s gathering information you wouldn’t necessarily get.”

He also said he could leave a press conference and accidentally see the other team run an unusual special teams play. Does he tell his special teams co-ordinator?

“But it’s about getting information that’s illegal.”

Buono says it’s an issue of ethics and no real rules covering the issue in the league.

He says there’s always been the expectation of it being out there and laughed, offering the example of when he was in Calgary and Labour Day came along. I knew the Eskimos might send somebody down.”

He’s also been known to send somebody away.

“I’m asking him what he’s doing and to stop that and ask him to leave.”

Buono says he has a philosophy.

“You’ve got to run the organization as you see fit but there should be consequences for your actions. If you get caught, there should be consequences.”

How you see yourself

He says a lot of things come into play here, including how you see yourself.

Buono, for example, says winning five more games and getting that record will, to him, mean little to his legacy.

“Leaving a legacy is about how you affected people, the organization and the community,” he said.

As he was leaving the session, Buono said: “It’s about being ethical and what price to win. All I know is that I don’t do it,” then playfully took the pen out of the hand of your correspondent.

“Put a rule in or stop whining,” he bottom-lined it.


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