Blue boss up to the challenge

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Lyle Bauer appeared to be at peace as he sat in the big chair late yesterday afternoon.

Sure, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO said football's a tough business and days like yesterday are never easy in the wake of Jim Daley's firing, but you could tell there was a part of him that was already looking forward to the future.

"This does give the organization the opportunity to do a full and thorough search for a head coaching candidate," Bauer said. "There's interest in the league and outside of the league, and I'm sure there'll be many people that come forward as well.

"That is something that has not been available since I arrived here."

Indeed it has not.

Inherited

Bauer inherited Dave Ritchie as head coach when he joined the organization in February 2000. While Ritchie may not have been Bauer's first choice to lead the team, Ritchie got the team to the Grey Cup in 2001 and garnered two contract extensions.

Ritchie then hired Daley prior to the 2004 season. When Ritchie was fired in August 2004, the club promoted Daley to interim head coach.

Daley was then promoted to head coach in the off-season thanks to a promising 5-6 record over the last 11 games of 2004.

"Jim performed well and got some results under some difficult circumstances last year," Bauer said. "The decision at that time was that he earned that look. And unfortunately for all of us it didn't work out."

Since it didn't work out, Bauer is looking at the current situation as a new beginning. His own beginning, so to speak.

"It gives (GM) Brendan (Taman) an opportunity to put a stamp on it and do a full and thorough search," Bauer said.

As for the perception that Daley was fired possibly to prevent a fan revolt, Bauer scoffed.

"We're ahead of last year's pace as far as our early (season-ticket) renewals are concerned, which is a good sign," he said. "We've sold several hundred Grey Cup packages, which is very encouraging.

"We have a strong following of Blue Bomber fans, regardless of who sits in my seat, the GM's seat or the head coach's seat."

Bauer wouldn't confirm it, but it's believed the club had to reach buyout settlements with Daley and offensive co-ordinator Mike Gibson, who both had a year left on their contracts.

"That's fairly obvious," Bauer said. "Obviously it's a decision that the club felt it had to make. Fortunately there's some stability in the business that you can do that at this time."

In addition, Bauer said hiring someone to aid Taman on the football operations side of the organization is one of the many options the club will examine over the next couple of months.


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