'Riders playing games?

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

The Blue Bombers were close to hiring Danny Barrett as their next head coach late last week in an intriguing turn of events.

Winnipeg GM Brendan Taman confirmed a Sportsnet report that suggested that the Bombers were on the verge of hiring Barrett and possibly, his entire Saskatchewan Roughriders coaching staff, when it looked like that CFL board of directors might terminate their contracts.

Roughriders GM Roy Shivers called president/CEO Lyle Bauer last Thursday to give the Bombers official permission to contact Barrett, Taman said yesterday. Taman then called Barrett twice. However, Shivers called Saturday morning to rescind the very same permission he had offered.

"It was bizarre," Taman said. "One day we had permission; the next, we didn't."

Shivers declined comment when contacted in Regina.

"I don't want to talk about Danny or the Bombers or anything else, I'm just getting ready to go to the Grey Cup," he said. "We're still employed by the 'Riders and haven't heard anything different."

It seems that the Bomber interest may be influencing Saskatchewan's decision, which suggests that Shivers orchestrated the whole scenario so that Barrett could keep his Saskatchewan job.

"(Shivers) called us so he might have been drumming up support for Danny," Taman conceded doubtfully.

But Taman was definitely interested in Barrett's services, partially because he is aware of how a community-owned club operates.

"If Danny was available, we'd be interested," he said. "Obviously, we were for a day and a half but I'll have to honour their request (to stop calling Barrett).

"I felt that Danny was interested but he wanted to see what the situation was in Saskatchewan first."

Meanwhile, Taman discussed the vacancy with Roughriders defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall once again yesterday. But he will be talking to more candidates this week. The Bombers have asked the Toronto Argonauts for permission to contact both offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin and defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler.

"I would certainly listen to see what Brendan had to say," Austin said from Toronto. "But there are a lot of good candidates out there. I think I'm OK but I don't know if I'm the most qualified."

Austin has been credited with grooming quarterback Kerry Joseph when he was in Ottawa, then helping veteran Toronto quarterback Damon Allen to become more patient over the last two seasons. And the former Bomber quarterback would not be scared off by Winnipeg's 5-13 record.

"To be honest, part of the reason for going through the process is to determine the current reasons for that," Austin said. "Is it personnel? Was it coaching? Sometimes, it's a myriad of reasons. If you are an outsider, it would be hard to determine that."

Stubler, meanwhile, is simply not interested.

"I'm real comfortable doing what I'm doing and being where I am (Toronto)," said Stubler, believed to be the heir apparent to head coach Mike Clemons.

Taman plans to call him anyway -- if and when he gets official permission.


Photos