Grey Cup glory eluding Eiben

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Damon Allen's days as an Argonaut are done.

All that stands in the way of coach Michael Clemons' departure is his own confirmation.

And as linebacker Mike Eiben said yesterday as the team cleaned out lockers 24 hours after a 19-9 loss in the East final: "I've been here since 2001 and had Pin every year. It's too bad he's leaving."

In other words, unless the most distasteful defeat in Clemons' career changes his mind, he's history.

Speaking of Eiben, he wasn't offering apologies for predicting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers wouldn't score more than 10 points and walked into the hard cold reality of an early off-season wondering if the team's offence will ever show up.

"All I said was if the defence performs the way it can that they shouldn't score more than 10 points and I was right," said Eiben, noting the other nine points came from a punt return and two singles. "You can't win games without offence and our offence didn't come to play."

OBVIOUS IRRITANT

The Argos have lost in the East final five of the past six years and it is an obvious irritant to Eiben, despite winning a Grey Cup ring in 2004.

"I should have a lot more than one ring on my finger. You don't play this game to get to the Eastern final.

"We need to find a way to get past that game."

Finding an offence would help.

"We had two weeks to prepare for this game.

"The offence and defence meet in different rooms, so I don't know what happens over there.

"They didn't click at all. Even if the offence scores just 20 points we had a chance," Eiben said.

"You need all three aspects -- special teams, offence and defence -- or you don't get to the Grey Cup.

"Winnipeg took advantage of special teams, and if our offence shows up we win."

Harsh. Perhaps. But spoken with honesty and passion.

Clemons admitted there was "a concern" about a rift between the struggling offence and a defence some said was among the best in CFL history.

"It was a situation you couldn't ignore and it wasn't right to address it by telling guys: 'Just do your job,' " Clemons said.

He told the players that the defence is quarterbacked by Michael O'Shea, in his 15th season, and has been orchestrated by co-ordinator Rich Stubler since 2003.

Compare that, said Pinball, to the offence, quarterbacked by Michael Bishop in his first full season and orchestrated by first-year co-ordinator Steve Buratto.

"It takes patience to put in a new system and get it working ... all we said is get us 10 points a half," Clemons said. "If we get that, we win."

Players said Clemons said little after the loss and was as upset as many had ever seen him.

"This game hurts more than any other game that I've ever played or coached," he said yesterday.

"I don't know of anyone outside this locker room who believed we could come back (from a 2-6 start).

"To do so, and then to have a game that was winnable ... and you don't play your best. It's difficult."

For Allen, the whole season was difficult after losing the No. 1 job.

"If I do decide to play again it probably wouldn't be here ... I think my time spent here is at an end."

He said he wasn't frustrated. Maybe disappointed. "I know I can play. It's just a matter of getting a true opportunity.

"In some way I had that opportunity but in a sense I feel I didn't.

"They (Argos management) made their plans from Day 1 of training camp. I think that's why Bishop got his opportunity to play; they decided he's our future and they were going with him."

Allen said he has had indications of interest from other organizations, adding: "There's still some football left in me."

It's unlikely Clemons will say the same thing when he announces his decision next week.


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