Coaches cornered

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

There is nothing wrong with Bart Andrus that another down wouldn't cure.

And maybe one fewer player on the football field.

The truth is, Andrus has tripped all over himself in his first Canadian Football League season, some of it his own doing, some of it inherited, some of it the fault of those who hired him with the Argos and didn't have the strength or foresight to make certain his coaching staff was experienced in this game that isn't all American.

It isn't nearly so simple with Mike Kelly, the mad cracker, who for the moment is coaching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The book on Kelly: He appears to be more than a down short when it comes to running his own show. He has that "I'm right, everybody else is wrong" cocky mentality, which works if you're Bill Belichick but not when you're losing in Winnipeg and your quarterback is named Michael Bishop.

In fact, if you didn't know better, you might think this entire Blue Bomber season was nothing more than a tribute to an SCTV parody of a football season, or at least a scene from Woody Allen's brilliant Love and Death, where he introduced The Convention of Village Idiots and a banner that ran over the town reading: "Welcome Idiots."

That banner could well be found in Winnipeg this weekend, or at least at the awkwardly named Canad Inns Stadium, where the two worst teams in the CFL, and the two most overmatched coaches, meet in a game where pride, employment and pretty much nothing else is at stake.

Hell, if Vince McMahon was running the CFL, he would probably promote this game as a Retirement Match. Losing coach must resign in shame on the spot. But despite Kelly's gift of gab, this is not the WWE. This is a matchup of bad 3-8 team vs. bad 3-8 team, the two most anemic offences in a league that is all about offence with two first-year head coaches who got their jobs based on their offensive reputations.

This isn't a first among equals situation because that would be unfair to Andrus, or anyone else for that matter, to be compared to the stageshow that has become Kelly.

Andrus, at least, has had the dignity to coach this season, lose games, admit his own mistakes, and not turn himself or his team into Sideshow Bob in the process.

Maybe he was the wrong choice -- he was at least the second choice -- for the job. Maybe there's a reason why he wasn't higher up the food chain with the Tennessee Titans. But at least he hasn't embarrassed himself, his team, his fans, even in dealing with the difficulty of the Arland Bruce banishment, which hasn't worked out in his favour, the way Kelly has fostered a certain hysteria in Winnipeg.

For those of twisted minds, Kelly has been a comedy act, the Weird Al of CFL coaches. He gives a good sound byte, which some find amusing, and that buys him the occasional break. But if his actual decisions were tracked on a one-by-one basis, his rookie batting average is lower than that of Alex Rios since joining the White Sox. Truth is, his team is a mess, inside and out, from locker room to front office to a community that really cares. The players who want to stay in Winnipeg won't tell the truth because they don't want to be shipped out.

Normally, the thought of firing football coaches in the middle of the season is foolhardy. You don't have time in mid-season to change a football team. You don't have time to properly change a coaching staff.

But what happens if you lose on Saturday night? What happens if you can't beat the worst team in the league?

What does that make you? What happens then?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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