Blue Bombers pick Berry

Winnipeg Blue Bombers new head coach Doug Berry tries on his new colours yesterday during his...

Winnipeg Blue Bombers new head coach Doug Berry tries on his new colours yesterday during his introduction to the media. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

Doug Berry fulfilled a lifelong dream yesterday.

Now all he has to do is fulfil the dreams of Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans who have gone 15 seasons without a Grey Cup celebration.

Berry, who spent the past seven years as an offensive assistant with the Montreal Alouettes, signed a multiyear contract yesterday morning and was officially introduced later in the day as the 26th head coach in Bombers history.

The 57-year-old New Hampshire native, who has been an assistant for his entire 30-year coaching career, didn't even try to become a head coach until last fall because he wanted to keep his family in one place.

"Now that my daughters are out of high school and going to college, it's time to resume my dream, and I think I've reached ... the pinnacle today," said Berry, whose wife, Carol, was with him for yesterday's announcement.

"... I'm not just fulfilling a goal, but I'm fulfilling a dream."

Some might suggest Berry is walking into a nightmare in Winnipeg, where the Bombers have missed the playoffs the last two CFL seasons.

Jim Daley, who was fired Nov. 8, guided the Bombers to a 5-13 record this year after taking over mid-season in 2004 and finishing with a 7-11 mark.

Berry figures he can right the ship.

"I'm a winner. I consider myself a winner. I want to win. I expect to win," he said. "And I want the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to feel the same attitude that I have."

Berry beat out former Edmonton and Ottawa defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, who will certainly be a candidate for the same position in Winnipeg.

Bomber GM Brendan Taman said Berry's 30 years of coaching experience and the success he cultivated in Montreal with its offensive stars were the determining factor.

"The decision itself was not an easy one, there's no question about that," Taman said. "There were a lot of good candidates, but we felt that we had a plan, a precise plan, and we stuck through it."

Another thing that didn't hurt Berry's chances was when he flashed a little bling-bling after Taman asked him what his expectations would be if he got the job.

"He didn't even answer," Taman said. "He just flashed me his (2002) Grey Cup ring from Montreal. I just said to myself, 'That's the guy.'"

Taman sure hopes Berry's the guy, because he admitted last month that this hire could be his last. The Bombers have regressed from Grey Cup finalists to last-place finishers in the West Division since 2001 and hope to turn that around when they host the Grey Cup in 2006.

Berry, who will be the third Bombers coach in three seasons, didn't seem too concerned that he might be dealing with a lame-duck GM.

"I don't know a thing about it," he said. "And it doesn't matter to me anyhow. It really doesn't."

On the field, Bomber fans can expect to see a lot of the Alouettes in the team next season. Berry was the Montreal's co-offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach for the past three seasons, and he said he will go with what has worked for him.

"You saw Montreal's offence," he said. "That's what we're gonna be. We're gonna spread people out, we're gonna use a running game if we're able to, and it certainly looks like we're going to be able to with the running back (Charles Roberts) we have here."

On the defensive side of the ball, Berry said he will glean something from the Alouettes system there, too.

"We're gonna be a pressure defence," he said.

Berry, who will be the head coach only, hopes to have his assistants in place by March 1. He said either his defensive co-ordinator or secondary coach will have CFL experience.

---

THEY SAID IT

"He's been to four of the last six Grey Cups, which is music to my ears."

-- Bombers GM Brendan Taman, noting the successes on Berry's impressive CFL resume

"I've been close a couple of times. It's nice to hear, but unfortunately second place doesn't do much in this situation."

-- veteran CFL assistant Greg Marshall, who just missed out on a head coaching job for the second straight year

"Doug will have a unique way of getting his point across. Doug breeds success ... and eventually the players are going to listen."

-- Montreal Alouettes GM Jim Popp

"He's a very intelligent man. A loyal man. For all the years he's put into this coaching business ... you can't be more excited for the guy. All kudos to the Bomber organization."

-- Popp

"He's tremendous in the office. If they've got computer problems, he'll figure it out. It's amazing the things he can do."

-- Popp

"Montreal sure knew what they were doing on the offensive side and that can only be a positive for us."

-- defensive end Tom Canada

"We definitely need someone who can come in there and turn it around for us and I'm sure he had a hand in (Montreal's) success."

-- tailback Charles Roberts

"Everyone's pretty excited about him and I look forward to meeting him. I like his attitude, his gumption and he's a winner. Everyone will be looking forward to a new challenge next year."

-- placekicker Troy Westwood


Videos

Photos

Canoe Top Headlines