Buono credits Esks intensity

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:30 PM ET

It's always an education to attend one of Prof. W. Buono's classes -- I mean, press conferences.

Friday, Prof. Buono, the most tenured of the Canadian Football League coaching fraternity, was lecturing on the subject of patience with young receivers who drop footballs.

"Young players have to go through the pain. You'd love to eliminate dropped balls. But I haven't seen a CFL game yet where there hasn't been a dropped ball.

"I can name two great players who would never had had the chance to become what they became if somebody hadn't had patience when they were dropping a lot of footballs early in their career," he said.

"Terry Greer. And Allen Pitts."

Two of the greatest in CFL history.

And then he named a more recent third.

"Andy Fantuz."

Wally Buono at first suggested his B.C. Lions receivers had dropped eight to 10 passes last week against the Calgary Stampeders and then decided that was low.

"More," he said.

You'd figure at this stage of the game, Buono would wake up one morning and say "What am I still doing this for, anyway?"

Buono laughed.

"How many times do you think I've asked myself that?"

Twice this year?

"More than that."

The Lions come to Commonwealth Stadium for Saturday's beginning of a predicted heat wave in the new mosquito capital of Canada with an 0-2 record after losing their first two games by two and four points.

Does Buono still enjoy the challenge of coaching a team with dropsy, or whatever the condition of the season might be, and coaching it back to a playoff position and a run at the Grey Cup like he did last year?

"I don't want to be challenged like last year," said Buono of the Lions, who opened the season with a win against the Eskimos then lost their next seven straight before turning it around and making the playoffs, where they lost an overtime thriller to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"We wound up in Regina and lost," said the coach who has done more winning than any other coach in CFL history, with 243 wins in 380 games, although he's 30-34 against the Eskimos all-time.

Lost is lost to the Professor.

"We're 0-2 because we deserve to be 0-2."

And he says rookie head coach Kavis Reed's Eskimos are 2-0 because they deserve to be 2-0.

He said the Eskimos are not leading because of quarterback Ricky Ray.

"I wish it was just the quarterback. It's about the whole team. They have a lot of no-name players who have had an impact so far.

"What's the one thing that jumps out at you about the Eskimos?" the professor stopped to ask the class.

Nobody put his hand up.

"It's the intensity of the team," he said.

An hour earlier Reed had stood behind the same podium and was almost professorial himself.

He said he doesn't want his team looking at the standings.

He doesn't want them to think of themselves as being the 2-0 Eskimos or the visitors as being the 0-2 Lions.

"I've never played a Wally Buono team that wasn't prepared," he said.

And he especially doesn't even want his team looking at the Edmonton line in the standings.

"Absolutely not. I want them to be as clinical as possible.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet. We haven't arrived."

Reed admitted before the Eskimos opening game "there was a message sent" to his team that under no circumstances was he to receive a Gatorade shower when he recorded his first win.

Same thing.

"That's symbolic of the culmination of a successful year," he said.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones


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