Leadership future up in air

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:16 AM ET

Punctuating his club's third-straight playoff shortfall, Ted Hellard finally came clean yesterday.

Not on the hiring of John Hufnagel, which he denied again yesterday.

But on the state of a franchise he's overseen with mixed results.

"We've done a pretty good job on the football side and the business side," said Hellard, who declared no one comes close to operating a more successful business in the CFL than his Stamps.

"But we've done a poor job dealing with the media and a poor job dealing with our community."

Damn right they have.

Unsure how to respond when the Sun broke news last week Hufnagel had agreed to terms on a soon-to-be-announced coaching contract, ownership left coach Tom Higgins twisting in the wind days before the playoffs began.

A man of tremendous class and heart, Higgins deserved better. Still does.

But the truth is, in a sports world based almost entirely on results, the Stamps got none when it mattered most, meaning Higgins needs to be fired.

He will be.

And while nobody is happy about the fact a man who did wonders to return a sense of pride and respect to those who wear and cheer for the Horse, it's almost a relief to know change is on the horizon.

This organization has been spinning its wheels the last couple seasons with an offence that rarely reaches it potential and a defence that changes like Calgary weather.

And while Higgins should be extended the courtesy of being offered a prominent front-office job with the club, it's time for ownership to act quickly on what happens next.

"There's an obligation that whatever is going to happen should happen in an appropriate amount of time," said Higgins, refusing to resign as he did in Edmonton when his time was clearly up.

"It does affect a lot of people -- there's a ripple effect.

"Behind the head coach, there's a wife and three children and a whole coaching staff that sits in limbo. Until I'm told otherwise, I relish being the head coach of the Calgary Stampeders football team and I'd love to tell you we're moving forward, but I can't. Please do know I have no control over it."

Vowing to start the evaluation process in due time, Hellard said one of the things he'll examine is whether he should stay on as managing partner.

He shouldn't, as there is a perception in town the only difference between him and Fred Fateri is that one collects cars while the other collected shoes.

"There are always going to be people who think you are way too involved," said Hellard, pegged as the guy who decided the club should rest its top players two weeks ago, leading to Sunday's sluggish start.

"But the reality is you've got to do what you've got to do with the goals and objectives you've set out. Are we where we want to be? Absolutely not. But I think it's to the point I probably feel comfortable handing things over to someone else."

That person would likely be Scott Ackles, hired last year as part of a transition that will ultimately see him become club president.

"We've got to let the football process go and figure out what the heck we're going to do," said Hellard, whose ownership group is going to look awfully silly when Hufnagel is introduced as the next coach.

"We haven't made the evaluation of some prospective coach because we haven't made the decision on where we are with our existing organization."

The organization is starting to look foolish again. And until those running it are removed, the club's standing in the community will continue to plummet.


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