Hiring a mere formality

Mike Kelly is the leading candidate to take over head coaching duties in Winnipeg. (Sun...

Mike Kelly is the leading candidate to take over head coaching duties in Winnipeg. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

It looks like the chief Bomber has chosen his leader.

Now, it's just a matter of Winnipeg Blue Bombers president/CEO Lyle Bauer getting Mike Kelly to ink his name to an official contract as the local CFL club's new head coach and, possibly, general manager.

Speculation is that Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer went to see Kelly to negotiate with him in person, either Philadelphia or in Edmonton, earlier this week.

"Lyle and I have had productive talks and will continue to do so," Kelly said in an e-mail yesterday.

Part of those negotiations could be the exact title that will be added to the nameplate on his office door in Winnipeg.

Kelly, who was the Eskimos receivers coach the past season, has reportedly cleaned out his Edmonton office in preparation for the move.

Bauer declined to either confirm or deny that Kelly is his chosen one to replace the fired Doug Berry.

Bauer told the Sun earlier this week that an announcement would be made by either the end of this week or early next week. Since the Bomber board of directors must approve the hiring, it is more likely to happen Monday or Tuesday.

"I feel good about things and I hope we'll have more to report very soon," Kelly told the Canadian Press.

Bauer has since gone to Utah to visit family for American Thanksgiving.

Kelly, 50, was the Bomber offensive co-ordinator under head coach/GM Cal Murphy when Bauer was Winnipeg's assistant GM in the early 1990s and the two have remained friends since. Kelly was contacted about the Bomber job twice before but he was unable to take it both times.

Kelly was believed to have been on a short list of three candidates -- but that did not include Calgary Stampeders offensive co-ordinator George Cortez.

"It appears that they have pretty much settled on someone there already," Cortez said from Calgary.

Neither Cortez nor CFL director of officiating Tom Higgins was ever contacted by the Bombers.

Bauer has been seeking a coach who can correct the offence and Kelly would fit that bill. Kelly is also more laid-back than the emotional Berry.

There is also speculation that Kelly would hire former Bomber quarterback Matt Dunigan and/or Edmonton offensive line coach Ronnie Vinklarek as assistants. Both coached with him at Valdosta State.

Kelly was passed over for Winnipeg's top job when the Bombers hired Jeff Reinebold to replace the deposed Murphy in 1997, something that still rankles him. He has since coached in the NFL, XFL and at the U.S. college level before returning to the CFL for the 2008 season.

Bombers defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, who was also on Bauer's short list, may become a candidate in Edmonton as there is renewed speculation that Danny Maciocia will step down as head coach to devote more time to being director of football operations.

Marshall is also a candidate to fill the vacancy in Toronto. However, the Argos reportedly interviewed former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel for that position yesterday.


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