Missed it by that much

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans have faith in the players, faith in the coaches and faith in the management that the club can get back to the Grey Cup next November -- and maybe even win it this time.

The differing of opinions comes off the field, where the club is poised to become community owned for the first time in its 78-year history.

The Sun's annual You Be The Boss fan poll asked the usual questions about which players, coaches and managers should be kept around or punted to the curb, but it also delved into the hot-button issue of David Asper's goal to build a new stadium and take control of the team.

That plan remains in limbo, as the Winnipeg media mogul attempts to secure $80 million from the federal and provincial governments.

Only 24% of those who took the poll believe Asper should be allowed to take control of the Bombers if a new stadium isn't built along with it. Sixty percent feel $120 million should be spent on new digs for the Blue and Gold, while 34% would like to see Canad Inns Stadium undergo a major renovation at half the cost.

When asked whether they believe the new stadium will ever get built, there were the same number of respondents on both sides of the fence.

Actually, while the poll on the opposite page shows an even 50-50 split, there were 169 people who think it will get done and 168 who don't.

And who says Manitobans are negative?

Here's a closer look at some of the more interesting results of this year's poll:

- We asked: Should Milt Stegall retire? and we got an eyebrow-raising answer. A whopping 31% of respondents believe Stegall should walk away from the game, even though the CFL's Touchdown King is coming off yet another 1,000-yard receiving season and still has the ability to perform at a high level. The answer was a bit different in the keep-punt section, as 18% said he should be let go, but that's still a high number for the team's third-best receiver in 2007.

- Kicker Troy Westwood had a terrible first 17 weeks of the season, but the last four salvaged what was poised to be the worst campaign in his 17-year career. The fans, like head coach Doug Berry and GM Brendan Taman, believe Westwood should be back for another kick at the cat, so to speak.

Seventy-one percent feel Westwood should be kept on board, while 66% believe he can do both the placekicking and punting jobs. Oddly enough, however, 54% said Westwood should do both duties. Only 25% of respondents said the Bombers should bring in an American kicker to do both jobs, but you can expect to see at least two at training camp.

- It may not have been his fault, but special teams coach Cory McDiarmid is the coach receiving the most heat from fans, with only 57% wanting to retain his services in 2008.

Winnipeg's special teams were downright atrocious for most of the season, but they really came on at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Perhaps that's why McDiarmid ultimately got a passing grade.

- Many fans were upset we asked them to choose only one free agent to sign, but their collective answer was resounding. Defensive end Tom Canada, with 76% of the vote, is the player they want GM Brendan Taman to lock up for 2008 and beyond. Offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed was second, with 15%, and backup quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie was third, with 4%.

- Taman better make sure he hangs on to receivers Terrence Edwards and Derick Armstrong, defensive tackle Doug Brown, defensive end Gavin Walls, offensive lineman Dan Goodspeed and middle linebacker Barrin Simpson for a while. Those six were the Bombers who received fewer than 10 votes in the punt department. Edwards was the winner of the popularity contest, receiving only three "punt" votes. Hey, people from Saskatchewan know how to use the Internet, too.

Bomber fans spoke simply by taking the poll, but also had a chance to add their two cents worth. Here are the wide-ranging comments from a handful of the 340 fans who took part in the poll:

- Milt should retire to free up some monies in order to keep some of the younger stars on the team. Find a quality backup to Kevin Glenn and get him some playing time.

- All in all they had an incredible season. I think the only thing that was really missing that would have made a difference was an experienced backup (quarterback). Either give Dinwiddie more time with the starting offence or go find an already seasoned one (i.e. Dave Dickenson) that can step up when needed. That was by far the deciding factor in the Grey Cup. If Glenn was in I believe he would have completly picked apart Saskatchewan's defence (and their offence sure wasn't anything to brag about).

- Asper should never be allowed to own the Bombers. They are and always should be a community team.

- Kevin Eiben is an idiot. Not only for underestimating us but also for breaking Kevin's arm.

- I think the Bombers will be the dominate team in the East again in '08, and very few changes are needed. Hopefully Milt comes back, but if not, for the first time in years, we have receivers capable to step up and take over for the Turtle Man. I'm buying season tickets for the first time in five years and can't wait for '08. GO BOMBERS GO!!!

- Good season, much inproved. Secondary and special teams need help. I will be renewing my season tickets.

- If you're going to build a new stadium, build with a roof similiar to the Fargodome.

- The secondary was the absolute pits. I don't know if they were always playing zone coverage or not, but just about every receiver was open by at least five yards. They are going to have to play more man-to-man or something, because we have the talent. We just need leadership.

- Let David Asper try his luck. They are so committed to Winnipeg it will turn out well.

- We need to utilize the draft to obtain quality players to fill the holes -- QB and kickers. Glenn put up big numbers in the FIRST HALF of the season, but the receivers also made him look good.He's no Burris.

- Bombers are on the right path. They need minor tinkering not a major overhaul.

- How do you not give your star running back at least 25 carries in the Grey Cup game with an inexperienced QB? Roberts is a game breaker, and when he gets 100 yards, almost all the time we win.

- If Stegall retires and Bombers win the Grey Cup, can we still give him a special ring?

- Disappointed in the way Berry handled Westwood. If he didn't fit in, cut him.

- A well-coached team with many great players and, having met some, are friendly caring and giving guys. They are truly the class of the CFL.

- It's our's next year if we stay healthy.


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