Buono sets high standard

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

When, or if, Wally Buono retires from his career as a CFL head coach, he will leave a win total that will be virtually unreachable by today's standards.

The B.C. Lions boss broke Don Matthews' wins record with his 232nd victory Friday night against the Toronto Argonauts. Unlike Matthews, Buono compiled his record by staying in the same place, only switching teams when an ownership situation got too volatile.

Matthews had eight stints with six teams over his 23-year career, often rebuilding struggling programs the moment he got there.

But Buono did it in just as tough a fashion, maintaining a high level of performance with the same group while also building towards the future.

In his first 11 years as a head coach, starting in 1990, the lowest number of wins Buono had was 10.

After a dip in his final two seasons in Calgary (2001-02, which included a Grey Cup win after an 8-10 season), he turned the Lions around and has won at least 11 games every year there.

For a new coach to come close to Buono's current total, he'd need to average 12 wins per season for 20 years.

Nobody is even close.

The 59-year-old Buono is the longest-serving head coach in the league, despite the fact he only went to the Lions in 2003. In fact, none of the other seven bench bosses are even in their third seasons, and all of them are new to being head coaches.

If Richie Hall stays with the Edmonton Eskimos until 2029 and maintains a level of success Buono has had, he would be 68 years old.

If Marc Trestman breaks the record with the Montreal Alouettes, he would be 72 when he's done.

If Ken Miller continues his success in Saskatchewan, he would still be patrolling the sidelines at age 87 to have a chance at the record.

The one coach with a more realistic shot is Hamilton's Marcel Bellefeuille. Now 42, he would be a few years older than Buono is now if he keeps going at that high rate, which would be a remarkable feat being that the Ticats haven't won more than six games in a season since 2004.

Opening drive

Who says you can't go back? The Lions have added pivot Casey Printers, the CFL Most Outstanding Player in 2004, to their practice roster ... After bringing in WR Romby Bryant and SB Arjei Franklin in a huge trade Sunday with the Blue Bombers, the Stamps went out and further added to their receiving corps, picking up former Ticats SB Chris Davis yesterday ... Credit Ticats offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson with a great call against the Stamps, opting to pass on second-and-short with QB Adam Tafralis at the helm. The result was a touchdown to SB Arland Bruce. Why more teams don't do this is a great question. It would keep defences on their toes.

Endzone Toss

Eskimos QB Ricky Ray was on a record run when another historic mark was set. Ray was in the midst of a streak of 20 consecutive receptions, the second-most in CFL history behind teammate Jason Maas, when Riders DB Omarr Morgan returned a fumble 108 yards for a touchdown ... Although Stamps SB Ryan Thelwell went down with a torn Achilles, there could have been a worse injury in Hamilton Friday night. A fan ran onto the field, climbed the goal post and shimmied to the top. At one point, he was hanging from the flag on the top with nothing holding him. If that flag gave way, he would have been seriously injured on the crossbar. The most troubling thing was the nonchalant behaviour of the Ivor Wynne Stadium security. "I was seriously worried for that guy," said Thelwell, who will miss the rest of the season.

Extra points

There were a couple of great plays by punters this week. First, Riders P Jamie Boreham ran for a first down on a fake, then Eskimos P Noel Prefontaine called his own number as the Riders didn't send any pressure against him. Who said kickers can't be athletic?

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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