Tale of two coaches

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Not sure when I heard the question the first time, but it's been out there for a while: Is Mike Kelly going to be another Jeff Reinebold?

Well, through nine days of training camp we can report the rookie Winnipeg Blue Bomber boss doesn't wear earrings or sport any visible tatoos, he hasn't blasted rock music during practice or made reference to Bob Marley, boxing or buddhism, ??? either.

We did see him in sandals one day, but it was during his media scrum, not out on the field.

That doesn't mean there aren't any similarities between the current Bomber head coach and the one generally regarded as the worst in franchise history.

On the eve of the club's pre-season opener, this seems as good a time as any for an in-depth comparison, Kelly vs. Reinebold, head to head, with all the key stats you'll need to draw your own conclusion.

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EXPERIENCE: This may leave you trembling, but Reinebold, in some ways, brought a better resume to the job 12 years ago than Kelly does.

For starters, he'd been working in the CFL the previous six seasons, to Kelly's one. The bulk of Kelly's CFL know-how comes from his stint as a Winnipeg assistant from 1992-96.

Both had just one previous college head coaching job in which they didn't win anything.

Key Stat: 11, as in the number of years Kelly was out of the CFL before he landed an assistant's job in Edmonton last season.

The Edge: Reinebold.

FIRST IMPRESSION: Reinebold rode in on a Harley at a splashy pep rally at the Convention Centre.

Meanwhile, you could hear Kelly coming from a mile away, too, but only because his hiring was rumoured from the day the Bombers fired Doug Berry.

The impression was Reinebold stole the job with a knock-'em-dead performance in his interview, while Kelly had it given to him without much competition.

Key Stat: Three qualified, potential candidates -- Calgary's George Cortez, Richie Hall, then of Saskatchewan, and former Edmonton coach Tom Higgins -- didn't even get an interview with Bomber CEO Lyle Bauer.

The Edge: Reinebold, for pure drama.

KNACK WITH THE KNIFE: Reinebold stormed in and began gutting the Bomber roster immediately, ridding it of popular veterans like Chris Walby, Michael Richardson and Gerald Wilcox.

Kelly has been equally adept with the machete, axing vets like Kevin Glenn, Dan Goodspeed, Kelly Malveaux and Jerome Haywood.

Key stat: By our count, a whopping 23 players, more than half the Winnipeg roster for the playoff game against Edmonton last November, are gone.

The Edge: Kelly

PIVOTAL DECISION: A quarterback will make or break a head coach, and here's where Reinebold imploded.

From Chris Vargas and Kevin McDougal in Year 1 to T.J. Rubley and Troy Kopp, Harley-boy never found someone who could steer a CFL offence.

In similar fashion, Kelly is rolling the dice by hitching his wagon to Stefan LeFors. How this one turns out will, more than anything, define Kelly's first season at the helm.

Key Stat: LeFors has five career starts.

The Edge: Kelly (so far)

COMMUNITY RELATIONS: In the months leading up to his first season, Reinebold was a public relations dream, speaking to more than 150 groups and 15,000 people around the province.

On the flip side, Kelly often didn't speak to anybody during the off-season, even on days when the Bombers announced a trade or contract extension.

Key Stat: One, as in the number of days into rookie camp Kelly's regime clashed with the media.

The Edge: Reinebold

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Put it all together, and Kelly hasn't made the splash Reinebold did. He's not quite as colourful a dresser or a quote, either, references to The Lion King and JFK notwithstanding.

Beginning tomorrow night, though, fashion and facade are out the window, football is in -- and we'll begin to find out what Mike Kelly is made of.


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