A step backward

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Brendan Taman knew a significant move was going to be made after an 8-10 season and a quick exit from the playoffs.

He even would have "understood" if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers let him go.

Unlike head coach Doug Berry, the 41-year-old GM missed getting the ax on Wednesday. Some of his power in the football operations department, however, will be chopped off when a new coach and GM is named.

Although Taman wouldn't confirm it yesterday in front of a large media throng on Maroons Road, he all but admitted he will be going back to being the team's director of player personnel in a restructuring of the front office.

"The main thing I'm going to focus on probably is personnel, which is hopefully my forte. If it isn't I'm in big trouble," he said. "... I'm fine with that, because that's what I like to do. A lot of that other (GM) stuff I don't like to do.

"Hopefully I'll have the input I've had, and we'll be fine."

Taman was the club's assistant GM upon his arrival in 1999, and he became the director of player personnel in 2002. He was then promoted to GM and vice-president of football operations in November 2003.

Taman was always in charge of finding talent, negotiating contracts and orchestrating trades, but with the GM role came absolute power when it came to roster decisions -- if he wanted it.

His philosophy, however, was that it was the head coach's responsibility to make those calls. Whenever he and Berry disagreed on who should play, Taman often let the coach make the move.

"I'll be frank with you, I was pretty lenient with the coaching staff that we had," Taman said. "I wasn't one to manipulate those decisions or put my finger on them, so those things will probably change."

Under the new structure, it's believed the new head coach/GM -- the leading candidate, according to numerous sources, is Edmonton Eskimos receivers coach Mike Kelly -- will have the final say on who plays, who stays and who goes.

Taman's primary role will be finding the talent for the head coach/GM to evaluate, but he will also keep much of the responsibility when it comes to negotiating contracts and making trades.

He also expects to still have some input on who plays, so he's not totally discouraged by what appears to be a demotion.

"Shoot, I've got a job, so that's a good thing," he said. "Ultimately you'd always like to have the best (job) you can, but when you lose you're going to pay the consequences, and I understand that."

Taman is in limbo until the decision on the coach and GM is made, but he continues to do exit interviews with players and is telling them as much as he can.

"I have my basic things I can tell them, but really, it doesn't matter what I tell them because once the new guy comes in he might have a whole different philosophy," he said. "I just told them I would keep in touch with them and see what happens."

As for his former colleague, Taman chatted with Berry for about half an hour yesterday morning and had nothing but kind words about him. He also downplayed the notion that it was Berry's treatment of players that led to his demise.

"He's a good guy," Taman said. "He's a very good coach, and he'll resurface again.

"... When you lose a lot of things magnify over, really, nothing. Doug has his own personality, and it worked last year, almost to a Grey Cup championship. And this year, for whatever reason, it didn't work. That's the business we're in."

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