That's quite a pickle

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

An open letter to Winnipeg Blue Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer:

Dear Mr. Bauer,

Over the next few weeks, you must make a very important decision, perhaps the most important one you've made in your tenure with the Blue Bombers.

Do you keep Jim Daley as your head coach?

Granted, I'm just a sportswriter, but I thought I'd offer some advice. Take it for what it's worth.

As you know, Daley has compiled a poor record --10 wins, 19 losses -- since taking over from Dave Ritchie last August.

I've already gone on record as saying one full season isn't enough on which to judge a coach. But after paying a visit to your locker-room yesterday, I'm not so sure anymore.

Lost some players

It seems your coach doesn't have the confidence of all his players.

This probably isn't shocking news, as every locker-room is bound to have a disgruntled player or two. But the vibe I got yesterday seemed to go a bit deeper.

There are those who support Daley to the end, but even they admit the coach has lost some of his players. The suggestion was those players need to be removed for this team to have any chance at success.

Another line of thinking is that perhaps Daley is better suited to be an assistant coach. Oddly enough, he might be too nice a guy to be the head man.

To be honest, I've wondered about that, too.

After every game, win or lose, Daley would always find the positives about his team. He'd never rant or rave, or take his frustrations out on his players in practice.

All year, it's been a consistent message from the coach: we tried hard, and we'll get better.

That's fine. But, at some point, maybe you need to be a hard ass.

I've heard it said football players need the fear factor: knowing if they don't perform, life will be miserable at practice the following week.

How many times this season did we hear various members of the Bombers say this was the happiest last-place team they'd ever seen? Quite a contrast from your playing days under Cal Murphy, wouldn't you say, Mr. Bauer?

I'm not saying you should tie the can to Daley and bring in the most ornery son-of-a-gun you can find. I'm just giving you some food for thought, served straight from the locker-room.

Of course, if you decide to make a change, there's going to be some serious fallout.

As one of the players who supports Daley told me, this team won't have a snowball's chance in Arizona of playing in the Grey Cup if it starts from scratch again next season.

Ah, yes, the 2006 Grey Cup -- one of the key events in your rebuilding plan for this franchise, Mr. Bauer.

I don't need to remind you what happened the last time Winnipeg hosted the CFL championship and had a really bad team in the same year, do I?

Let's just say the profit from that little extravaganza barely covered the cost of a minimum-wage, CFL rookie.

And you want this Grey Cup to leave you with a $3 million war chest that allows you to compete for high-priced free agents for years to come?

This is one interesting pickle you find yourself in, Mr. Bauer.

Your football team stinks at the same time you're trying to create an aroma for a Grey Cup.

Actually, it's not your football team at all. It belongs to every single Manitoban. That's one of the things that endears it to this community, makes people feel as passionate as they do.

But nobody has as much influence on this team as you do. You are in an enviable position. I hope you realize that, and take it very seriously.

There's just one more thing.

Since you signed off on Daley's hiring in the first place, the wrong decision now could well put you in the firing line.

So good luck with it.

And let us know, soon, OK?

Sincerely,

Paul Friesen

Winnipeg Sun


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