Buono sketchy about future

B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono holds the West Division championship trophy after beating the...

B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono holds the West Division championship trophy after beating the Edmonton Eskimos Sunday. Ben Nelms, Reuters

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:26 PM ET

VANCOUVER - The question came in Wally Buono’s post-game press conference.

The winningest coach in CFL history had just made it back to the Grey Cup for the first time since winning it in 2006.

He was asked if he would now answer the question about his coaching future.

“I’m coaching next week,” he said.

And as his first order of business of Grey Cup week which began when the gun sounded on the B.C. Lions 40-23 win over the Edmonton Eskimos is to tell the media he’s not going to answer questions about his coaching future.

“I have an agreement, which is in its first year, that I will sit down at the end of every year with David Braley and discuss my future.

“If I don’t feel I can put 100% of myself into coaching, I’m not going to be there. I felt I could do that this year and that my doing that would help us grow,” said Buono who regardless of the decision would almost certainly remain as general manager.

Buono was strangely relaxed and mellow after the win which left him with an all-time record of 9-9 in 18 division finals in his 23 years of head coaching.

There were those in his post-game press conference who wondered if this may signify a man who has decided his last game as head coach will be Sunday’s Grey Cup game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Maybe I’m just enjoying it,” he said.

“This is a tough life, especially at times when things are not going well,” said the man who was hearing calls for him to step down as coach when the Lions started the season at 0-5.

He said the trouble with coaching is the way it works with winning and losing games like the West Final.

“The ones you win, you forget. The ones you lose, you can’t forget.

“It’s like that for me with 2005,” he said of the year the Lions lost this game in BC Place to the Edmonton Eskimos and watched Edmonton return to win the Grey Cup the following Sunday in BC Place.

“There were a couple like that in Calgary as well,” he added.

The old coach said he’s taking this team to this Grey Cup perhaps having learned a lot of lessons from his past.

“I learned from failures in Calgary and 2005. You have to be careful how hard you drive them. You can drive them too hard. In the past maybe I put too much pressure on them.”

He said he appreciates the players on this team this year as much as any group he’s ever coached.

“The reason we’re here is that we have good men. I don’t think we’d have come through the adversity we faced this year if we didn’t have good men.”

The best man, who will almost certainly win the Gibson’s Finest Award as CFL most outstanding player here this week, is quarterback Travis Lulay.

“Travis is a tremendous human being. He has smarts. He’s a good athlete. He makes good decisions. But I’m not sure that being the person he is with the character he has isn’t the greatest asset he has.

“People don’t appreciate how he can capture the moment. Guys respect him and guys play for him,” he said.

“Sometimes the week is up and down but there’s nothing like the game itself. I played in the game three times as a player and if a Super Bowl is better than the win we had in Montreal in 2001 then the Super Bowl has to be unbelievable,” said Buono who was coaching the Calgary Stampeders at the time.

Buono said he’s probably happiest for owner David Braley.

“That man deserves everything he can get. He’ll get tremendous joy out of this and I’m happy to see he’ll be able to do that.

“When you get to know David Braley, he’s a much more emotional and caring individual than he sometimes shows.” Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

 


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