Gibson flies Bomber coop

KIRK PENTON, STAFF REPORTER

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announced the return of four assistant coaches yesterday.

The one name missing, however, was the biggest news of all.

Offensive co-ordinator and offensive line coach Mike Gibson informed head coach Doug Berry on Wednesday morning in Mobile, Ala., that he wasn't coming back to the Bombers for a third consecutive season. It's rumoured that Gibson, who didn't return a call from the Sun yesterday, is going to work for the Calgary Stampeders.

"I would've liked to have had him here," Berry said. "He did a good job, the players respected him, and he picked up on the system we're trying to employ here."

The four assistants who will be back are Greg Marshall (defensive co-ordinator), Richard Harris (defensive line), Bobby Dyce (receivers/draft co-ordinator) and Cory McDiarmid (special teams/running backs).

Secondary coach Gregg Butler left for Hamilton earlier this month.

Berry didn't see Gibson's departure coming, but he's already begun the search for Winnipeg's eighth offensive co-ordinator in the last 10 years. He also needs to find an O-line coach and a quarterbacks coach, since QB boss Mike Working left for Hamilton earlier this month.

Berry, however, will hire two people for the three positions.

"It gives me a little more flexibility, actually," he said, "in that whoever I find as a co-ordinator may now be a quarterbacks guy instead of tied to the O-line. I'm not saying it helps, but I do have more flexibility.

"We gotta replace a quarterbacks coach and an O-line coach now. That's not easy, but those are two positions that are my strengths."

Berry said there's a chance he might take control of the offence if he can't find a veteran CFL coach.

"It's a possibility," he said. "If I have to bring in guys that are not suited for what I need to have done, in terms of having the CFL experience, having coached on the field, initially I might have to be a lot more involved. Then again, I may not."

Berry was in Alabama earlier this week scouting practices for this weekend's Senior Bowl, but it also gave him the opportunity to interview prospective assistants.

"It was like a coaching convention of professional coaches," Berry said. "... Everybody that I've talked to I feel real good about."

As for a time frame on the hirings, Berry said, "I'd like to have some staff meetings in March."


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