Google eyes on Kelly

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly challenged reporters to look up his coaching past last weekend. (Sun...

Bombers head coach Mike Kelly challenged reporters to look up his coaching past last weekend. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

So, Mike Kelly wants us to Google him, does he?

The head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made the comment after his most embarrassing loss of the season, Sunday night.

"If you Google me, I've been successful elsewhere," the professor, standing in the fresh mess of that 55-10 loss to Saskatchewan, told reporters, amidst questions about his woeful offence and 3-7 record.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to take the professor up on his offer.

Actually, I dug a little deeper than Google.

And the truth is, Kelly's success elsewhere has been limited, which contradicts something else he said, the day after the Banjo Bowl.

"I never had this much trouble getting an offence to get the football pointed in the right direction," he said Monday.

Actually, professor, you have.

In fact, in Kelly's only other head coaching gig, which ended with his firing after a post-game shouting match with the athletic director and some fans at Valdosta State University in 1999, Kelly's record was a mediocre 15-16 -- and his offence one of the worst in school history.

"An era that people try to forget," a reporter from the area told me.

"He was a hard fit," is how another described it. "He was cocky. He was outspoken. But he always blames it on the fact he was not a southerner."

Kelly took over at Valdosta, in Georgia, in 1997. The next three years remain the worst three years of offensive football the Division II school has had in the last 16.

"They never found a quarterback," one of our scribes said.

Kelly's second year there, when his team averaged 261 yards and less than 19 points per game, stands as the worst in the last 26 years.

Thanks to a solid defence, the team was 6-5 the first year, 5-6 the second.

But late in Year 3, Kelly lost his temper after what remains Valdosta's one and only loss to Arkansas-Monticello, a team that didn't have much of a football program.

"That last loss was embarrassing," one reporter said.

His team 4-5, Kelly came out of the locker-room, headed for the press box for his post-game radio show and got into it with some fans and the school's athletic director.

"The next day I turned on the coach's show (on TV), and it wasn't The Mike Kelly Show anymore," the writer said.

So Kelly left Valdosta a game below .500.

There's an interesting footnote to his time there, though.

One of the teams he lost to had to forfeit its victory because it used ineligible players. Kelly, determined to go into the school record books with a winning record, tried to get that game added to his personal win total.

"Mike for years would call the sports information director at Valdosta," one of our sources said. "He wanted to be above .500."

So what had the professor done to earn a job as a CFL head coach?

He could point to his one season with the Orlando Rage of the short-lived XFL, where, as offensive co-ordinator, he helped the Rage to a league-best 8-2 record.

Of course, Google will tell you the Rage never had a quarterback throw for more than 250 yards, or a running back gain more than 69, and that they crashed and burned in the playoffs.

More often, Kelly points to his previous stint with the Bombers, where he was the OC from '92-96.

He likes to mention the 29 club records his offence set, the 713 passing yards Matt Dunigan recorded in one game.

He doesn't mention his offence was near the bottom of many of the CFL's passing categories in the two years Dunigan wasn't the quarterback.

So no, this isn't the first time Kelly has had some trouble getting the football "pointed in the right direction."

Just thought you might want to know.

And I saved you some Googling.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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