Blue go back to the future

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

The latest head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is already preaching pride and success.

"Failure is not an option," Mike Kelly declared at The Sun Centre where the Bombers finally confirmed what Sun Media has been reporting since the day Doug Berry was fired -- that he would become the club's next mentor.

Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer introduced Kelly as the head coach only, despite speculation that another title could be added after Brendan Taman had been demoted from GM to vice-president of player personnel.

However, Kelly will report only to Bauer and will serve as his own offensive co-ordinator, as the Winnipeg Sun reported yesterday.

Kelly, who reportedly signed a three-year pact, was Winnipeg's OC under head coach/GM Cal Murphy from 1992 to '96. Bauer was then assistant GM.

Kelly, who was passed over for the same position in 1997, called this his "dream job."

"I am absolutely thrilled to be the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers," he said. "It's exciting to work with (Bauer) again. This is me coming home. I'm just thrilled and honoured, and failure is not an option because of what I feel about this city and this organization. But I can't do it alone ... Let's go get this done now."

Kelly, 50, coached a potent offence while learning the ropes from Murphy, helping the Bombers get to the Grey Cup game in 1992 and '93.

The affable Kelly, who served as the Edmonton receivers coach last season, takes over a team that fell to 8-10 a year after appearing in the 2007 Grey Cup.

"We have unfinished work to do and I know we have great expectations here," he said. "(But) I don't walk on water. The last time I tried that, much of it came up my nose. I'm a football coach that promises you that the Winnipeg football team will represent this community the way I know that it should be represented.

"We're going to get the culture back to being the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that I used to know, where we walked out of that tunnel and there was a tremendous level of confidence that we were going to, No. 1, score points and, No. 2, that you were going to know that you were in a football game with us defensively. We will work diligently to get us back to being the Bombers that I remember."

The Bombers he remembers are the ones guided by Murphy, who led the Bombers to three Grey Cup victories.

"I thought Grey Cups were just what we were supposed to do in my first couple of years in the league," Kelly said. "That was our mindset. That was a given, that we were going to the playoffs and going to get to the Grey Cup. Now, people get excited about just getting into the playoffs."

Kelly impressed Bauer back in 1992.

"A couple of young guys were thrown into quite a carousel when Cal (Murphy) had his heart transplant," Bauer said. "Urban Bowman was the interim head coach at that time and Mike played a significant role in what happened there. There was a lot of bonding that happened there in some difficult times because of his ability to relate to players, to motivate and communicate."

Bauer had tried to hire Kelly as head knock twice before.

"There's never been any promises," he said. "There's no secrets that we've had chats with Mike over the years but the circumstances weren't right and the environment wasn't right. Now, at this point in time, it is right in his life, and I think he'll do a very good job."

Although Kelly is currently living in Bauer's basement, he plans to take up permanent residence here.


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