A vote of confidence

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders did much more last season than just qualify for the CFL playoffs for the first time since 2001.

The upstart organization with its 11-7 regular season record also stemmed the flow of venom from angry fans, who annually vent their frustrations in the Sun's You Be The Boss poll.

As this year's edition of YBTB suggests, the folks who cram themselves into McMahon Stadium to cheer on the Red and White are not only pleased with what they witnessed in 2005, they're anxious for another heapin' helping of Stamps football in '06.

It hasn't always been that way.

Last year's survey triggered an avalanche of protest from local football fans fed up with the former ownership and its brief but painful legacy of losing. Nothing short of seeing the owner's head on a platter would satisfy fed-up fans.

And disgruntled Stamps followers got what they wanted with massive off-season changes headed by a new local ownership group that completely rebuilt the coaching staff and roster.

The result was a winning season for the first time in four years and renewed enthusiasm for the local CFL product and the people charged with running it.

As this year's YBTB survey indicates, satisfaction has soared in the last 12 months.

The hundreds of fans polled at www.calgarysun.com this fall offered a resounding vote of confident for head coach Tom Higgins, ushered in by the new ownership group to help save the sinking franchise. Higgins delivered by securing a first-rate coaching staff and instilling in everyone a winning attitude with 65% of respondents feeling he did a "great" job in 2005.

Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto also received a resounding vote of confidence with 56% of polled fans feeling his performance in 2005 was "great."

Fans are undecided on whether the trio of backup quarterbacks -- Jason Gesser, Danny Wimprine and Josh Harris -- is talented enough to back up starter Henry Burris again in 2006, although they'll likely see all three understudies return next season.

The work is hardly finished though, as a vast majority of fans don't feel the 2005 edition of the Stampeders is good enough to win the Grey Cup next season. Only 29% of fans feel the current 40-man squad can claim the Cup next November in Winnipeg.

Receiving loyal support were Burris with 73% of respondents wanting to 'keep' the high-priced quarterback.

The greatest fan support was for running back Joffrey Reynolds, with 55% of fans considering him worthy of a 'big raise.'

Next year, fans just want more of the same, with an emphasis on a stronger playoff showing and maybe even a berth in the 2006 Grey Cup.


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