Honour contracts

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

Some questions for Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans to ponder, midway through a 17th consecutive off-season of wondering what might have been.

- What if Bomber head coach Doug Berry gets a call from some U.S. college this week, offering him a job as an assistant?

This hypothetical interlude is brought to you by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, whose off-seasons were thrown into chaos by similar situations.

Turns out Charlie Taaffe is staying put in Steeltown, after flirting with the offensive co-ordinator gig at West Virginia University the last several days.

But we're still not sure about Kent Austin's status with the Grey Cup champion Roughriders (that still doesn't sound right, does it?), who's being wooed with a similar position at the University of Mississippi.

Both Taaffe and Austin are under long-term contracts -- just a year into their jobs, in fact -- so their potential departures threw their teams for a loop.

OK, so maybe losing Taaffe wouldn't have caused a revolt in Hamilton, not after a 3-15 season. But in Saskatchewan, they're tracking the Austin story the way they track wheat prices.

To euphoric Rider Priders, this is like waking up from a Grey Cup hangover to learn your wife is thinking of leaving.

And it's as disruptive as losing your star quarterback to the NFL.

Which makes you wonder if teams will start being a lot more specific about escape clauses in their coach's contract.

With assistants and management types, it's understood if someone is offered a better position (read: a promotion) with another organization, you don't stand in their way.

But how about a CFL head coach -- should he be allowed to take an offensive co-ordinator job with a U.S. college, no questions asked?

Sounds like the pay is similar, so why is a contract not a contract?

If Berry were to be offered a job by, say, the University of Massachusetts, where he worked as an assistant for 17 years, should the Bombers simply throw up their hands and let him go?

I don't think so.

And in light of recent developments, I'd put it in writing.

- Would Milt Stegall take a pay cut to help the Bombers sign a free agent or two?

I can't see No. 85's 2007 salary of more than 200 grand fitting easily into the Bomber books this year, not with Tom Canada and Dan Goodspeed heading for the free agent market.

Thing is, Stegall is known to protect his wallet the way he protects the football. It'll be interesting to see if he takes less to play one more, or if money winds up being what sends him into retirement.

- What would you do with an extra $150,000?

That's how much the CFL salary cap is increasing this year, a "jump" of 3.7% over last season, to $4.2 million.

So does that mean the Bombers have the money to sign another star player?

Nope.

Giving everybody a 3.7% raise after reaching the Grey Cup last fall will take care of the increase just fine, thank you.

- First, a bubble. What's next -- running water?

Can't say I found David Asper's proposed "bubble" over the proposed field at a proposed new stadium to be much more than an effort in P.R.

This was supposed to "up the ante" in a poker game that could involve $80 million in public cash?

What's next -- promising to install flush toilets?

- Why don't the Bombers keep an eye on this guy?

His name is Austin Anderson, and he's the 19-year-old son of Gary Anderson, one of the NFL's all-time best field goal kickers.

The kid, whose dad lives in Canmore, Alta., plans to play Canadian college ball at McGill University this year.

Which means he'll be eligible for the CFL draft right around the time Bomber kicker Troy Westwood is finally ready to retire.


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