Bombers coach Kelly feeling the heat

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

It’s a non-issue. It’s been handled internally. So I’ve got nothing to write about today.

I don’t care if a Winnipeg Blue Bomber scout was caught spying on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, trying to get an edge for Saturday’s game in the Steel City.

It doesn’t matter if he initially lied about who he was and what he was doing, only to come clean and turn over a few dozen pages of notes and diagrams of Hamilton plays and formations.

It’s a non-issue.

What’s that you say, the CFL says what the Bombers did was unacceptable? That if they’re caught doing it again they’ll be hit with a fine so big it’ll make what they’re still paying former head coach Doug Berry every week look like allowance money?

So what, it’s been handled internally.

It was curious to see head coach Mike Kelly get so worked up about something that’s such a non-issue.

Kelly, who usually makes it clear the buck stops with him, refused to address the story yesterday, instead leaving director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson to face the media.

Hodgkinson told us that Toronto-area scout Ron Trentini acted on his own, that nobody in the Winnipeg organization instructed him to get info on the Ticats.

If that’s true, and we have no reason to believe it’s not (other than that nagging little voice of skepticism you need in this business), then we’re left to conclude you don’t have to be a member of the Mensa society to join the Bombers as a scout.

“You either believe he was sincere in thinking there was nothing wrong with it, or there’s some other questions that perhaps need to be addressed,” Hodgkinson said of Trentini.

I’ll say. Like, “Why didn’t you just make some mental notes?”

From the people I’ve talked to, there’s not even much to be gained by spying on a team’s practice.

“It’s just common courtesy that you don’t do it,” one team executive said. “If that was the ultimate edge in deciding games, it would be rampant. However, we’re not naive enough to believe it doesn’t take place.”

The executive called it “unsportsmanlike,” more than actual cheating.

Which raises the question: why did the Ticats even get worked up about it, and why is the league threatening major fines if it happens again?

This whole story is full of contradictions.

Isn’t there some juicy irony, too, in the fact the very team that’s been so paranoid about protecting practice secrets is the one that’s accused of skullduggery?

Former Montreal boss Don Matthews used to get into hot water over this kind of thing. The Don actually had spies videotaping coaches’ signals from the bench during games.

That’s cheating, plain and simple, and the league wants to prevent that from happening. So it’s cracking down on anything that could be seen as spying.

Kind of like grounding your kid for shoplifting a 10-cent candy so they get the message stealing is wrong.

The Bombers, innocently or not, are left publicly embarrassed after a slap on the behind from league commissioner Mark Cohon.

“This is a blemish on the organization,” Hodgkinson acknowledged. “As much as you’d like to apologize, people will always be skeptical as to what the intent was, and how it came about. And I can’t do anything about that. We can only be forthright and forthcoming as we were with the league immediately upon being aware of this.”

Then there’s the man in charge.

We’d love to tell you he looked us in the eye and said he didn’t order the spying plan. But we can’t.

Did he know about it?

It’s a non-issue — didn’t you read me the first time?


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