Marshall plans?

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Two more interviews, both to be done by late Sunday afternoon.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer says the search for a new head coach has come to that, give or take a follow-up meeting or two.

"Everybody we're considering is going to be spoken to on the phone or in person probably by kickoff of the Grey Cup," Bauer said yesterday.

One of the people he plans to talk to is current Bomber defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, Bauer said.

Marshall said yesterday no meeting was set up.

Ditto former Calgary and Edmonton boss Tom Higgins, currently the CFL's director of officiating.

"I have not heard one word from the organization," Higgins said. "I don't believe for a moment anybody would dare address me during Grey Cup. But anything's possible."

Higgins says it's premature to say whether or not he has any interest in the job, although he acknowledged coaching may not be out of his system, yet.

As for Marshall, he'll pack up his bags this morning, lock his Winnipeg office and leave town, his future like a glider plane without a pilot -- up in the air, with no indication where it's going to land.

The 52-year-old could well soar to his first gig as a CFL head man, or he could come down hard, on the unemployment line. There's everything in between, too.

So today he flies to Montreal, mecca of all things CFL this week. The place where contacts are made, secret meetings held and deals sealed over a drink and a handshake.

"It's fair to say I'm keen on talking to any team that has an opening for a head coaching position," Marshall said. "I believe I'm ready for that challenge. It's just a matter of convincing somebody that I am."

Along with trying to convince Bauer, he may have an ear in Toronto, the only other team with the top job up for grabs.

If we are to believe what we hear, Marshall might be banging his head against the wall in Winnipeg, as Bauer has targeted old friend Mike Kelly for the job, potentially leaving the long-time defensive specialist as the runner-up, yet again.

"Try not to let it affect me," Marshall said, of how he handles the rumours. "I just have to take care of Greg Marshall right now. Once I know where the dominoes are going to fall, then I have to figure out what's the best direction for me to go."

Who knows, he may not go anywhere at all, or even change titles. Remember, when Doug Berry beat him out for the Bomber job three years ago, he hired Marshall to handle the defence.

The results have been mostly good, although the Bomber D did take a step back in '08.

"The defence has done a reasonable job over the last number of years," Bauer said. "But I'm not sure that is the criteria for the head coaching position. That is one small piece of a much bigger picture."

Head coaching experience, CFL experience, leadership and teaching abilities -- Bauer says he has at least half a dozen criteria, some of which carry more weight than others.

"There is a little bit of science to it," Bauer said. "There's also some gut to it."

Bauer's gut has no excuses when it comes to Kelly and Marshall. Kelly was here as offensive co-ordinator in the 1990s, when Bauer was assistant GM, and he's seen Marshall up close the last three years.

Safe to say the trying '08 campaign taught both Bauer and Marshall something.

"You gotta be patient at times, and other times you've gotta be not-so-patient," Marshall said of what he learned under Berry this year. "Probably the biggest thing, and you probably learn this a little bit every year -- you never take anything for granted."

Not a smooth start to the season. Not a first-place finish, or even a winning record. Not a return trip to the Grey Cup.

And certainly not that you'll get the top job just because you're in line for it.


Videos

Photos