For Steve Buratto, experience didn't just go a long way, it saved his job.
When the Argonauts open the 2009 Canadian Football League regular season on July 1 in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats, Buratto probably will be the only member of the coaching staff who won't be a jangle of nerves. With more than 28 years of service on various CFL sidelines on his resume, Buratto is the only coach who was kept by new head man Bart Andrus from the dismal 4-14 club of a year ago.
"I really believe you need some kind of carryover, and he knows things about the players I am going to need to know," Andrus said yesterday at the Argos' training facility in Mississauga, where the new staff began its first meetings and was informally introduced to reporters.
"His experience is going to be a tremendous help in getting us situated. He will be a good resource for me."
But Buratto has been busted down, in a sense, to special teams co-ordinator and running backs coach.
As offensive co-ordinator the past two seasons, Buratto was unable to help get the Argos out of the CFL's offensive basement, though they did improve last season by more than 40 yards a game on average from 2007. And what awaits Buratto in his new role with the special teams?
No Dominique Dorsey, whose departure for the Washington Redskins last week not only left the special teams with a massive hole but marked a big blow to the club's offensive thrust as well. If Dorsey was not returning a kick for a touchdown, then the odds were good he would get more than enough yards to put the Argos in solid field position.
"A guy like Dom, you don't replace," Buratto, who talked to the Edmonton Eskimos about their offensive co-ordinator job before deciding to stay in Toronto, said. "You find a guy with similar skills and who has a chance to do some of the same things. Arland (Bruce) is not too bad. You would like somebody that the other team holds their breath (with the possibility) he can go the whole way. In reality, if you can average 15 yards a return, you change the field position."
With Buratto handling other duties, Andrus, most recently an offensive assistant with the Tennessee Titans, will call the shots on offence. With that in mind, Andrus met No. 1 quarterback Kerry Joseph for breakfast last week in Orlando, where Joseph resides in the off-season, and said the meeting went well.
Buratto wants to leave behind the frustration of being at the helm of an offence that could not move down the field with much consistency.
"It was a multitude of things," Buratto said. "It's difficult to put a finger on any one thing. We did not seem to have a real strength to overcome adversity.
"(The new coaches) will look at the guys on tape and assess. They'll see some things I did not see."