Bombers coach Kelly feeling the heat

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

Itís a non-issue. Itís been handled internally. So Iíve got nothing to write about today.

I donít care if a Winnipeg Blue Bomber scout was caught spying on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, trying to get an edge for Saturdayís game in the Steel City.

It doesnít 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.

Itís a non-issue.

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

So what, itís been handled internally.

It was curious to see head coach Mike Kelly get so worked up about something thatís 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 thatís true, and we have no reason to believe itís not (other than that nagging little voice of skepticism you need in this business), then weíre left to conclude you donít have to be a member of the Mensa society to join the Bombers as a scout.

ďYou either believe he was sincere in thinking there was nothing wrong with it, or thereís some other questions that perhaps need to be addressed,Ē Hodgkinson said of Trentini.

Iíll say. Like, ďWhy didnít you just make some mental notes?Ē

From the people Iíve talked to, thereís not even much to be gained by spying on a teamís practice.

ďItís just common courtesy that you donít do it,Ē one team executive said. ďIf that was the ultimate edge in deciding games, it would be rampant. However, weíre not naive enough to believe it doesnít take place.Ē

The executive called it ďunsportsmanlike,Ē 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.

Isnít there some juicy irony, too, in the fact the very team thatís been so paranoid about protecting practice secrets is the one thatís 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 coachesí signals from the bench during games.

Thatís cheating, plain and simple, and the league wants to prevent that from happening. So itís 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.

ďThis is a blemish on the organization,Ē Hodgkinson acknowledged. ďAs much as youíd like to apologize, people will always be skeptical as to what the intent was, and how it came about. And I canít do anything about that. We can only be forthright and forthcoming as we were with the league immediately upon being aware of this.Ē

Then thereís the man in charge.

Weíd love to tell you he looked us in the eye and said he didnít order the spying plan. But we canít.

Did he know about it?

Itís a non-issue ó didnít you read me the first time?


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