Fab-4 list of candidates

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Matt Dunigan's available. So is Joe Paopao. Don Matthews and Danny Barrett aren't, at least not yet.

A few up-and-coming CFL assistant coaches will, no doubt, be in the equation, too, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers begin the search for the 26th head coach in franchise history.

There will be no shortage of candidates and, for the next several weeks, no shortage of speculation, as GM Brendan Taman and president/CEO Lyle Bauer make what could be the most important decision of their careers in football.

We at the Sun thought we'd give fans a head start on the process by presenting the four people most likely to succeed Jim Daley as Bomber boss.

Start with Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto.

Buratto has one thing going for him many other available candidates don't, having taken over the B.C. Lions during the 2000 season and leading them to a Grey Cup title, then remaining the Lions head man through 2002.

Taman wouldn't comment specifically on Buratto, but indicated he preferred someone with experience as a CFL head coach.

"It's fairly important," Taman said. "As an assistant you see things, and as a head coach ... it's just a whole bigger picture to view. I'm not saying guys haven't done it or can't do it. But it's like playing corner to halfback. It's a little bit of a different game."

Buratto, in his 21st season in the league, is also a well-regarded offensive mind, having run B.C.'s CFL-leading attack last year. This season, he's helped turn the Stamps into a playoff team.

The rest of our Fab-4, in no particular order: Calgary defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan, just-fired Ottawa defensive boss Greg Marshall and Saskatchewan defensive guru Richie Hall.

Toronto's Rich Stubler, also a defensive co-ordinator, wouldn't be far off the list.

Those are generally considered the top co-ordinators working in the CFL.

If you want a couple of darker horses, go with Argonauts offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin or long-time CFL coach Paopao, fresh off the Ottawa house-cleaning.

Taman would only offer a comment on Marshall and Paopao, since they're not currently with a team.

Experience

"They have experience in the league, and I've worked with them both, which is a good quality to start with," he said.

Paopao might be a tough sell, considering his underwhelming record in Ottawa the last four years.

The Bombers would need permission from their current teams to speak with the working candidates.

Taman says he'll conduct an extensive interview process, weighing the experience factor with the idea of trying a fresh face.

"It's a fine line you're going to have to walk down with those decisions," he said. "It'll come down to dealing with them on a one-on-one interview and just sort of getting a feel for them, more than anything."

Of course, everything could change with the addition of Matthews or Barrett to the mix, currently the bosses in Montreal and Regina, respectively.

As for Dunigan, the former quarterback and current TSN analyst who bombed in Calgary last year, we wouldn't hold our breath.


Videos

Photos