'Not going anywhere'

Bombers defensive lineman Doug Brown cleans out his locker yesterday at Canad Inns Stadium.  (KIRK...

Bombers defensive lineman Doug Brown cleans out his locker yesterday at Canad Inns Stadium. (KIRK PENTON/SUN MEDIA)

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

If we've learned one thing about Mike Kelly, it's that he's confident.

So his response yesterday, when he was asked if he thought he would be coaching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2010, was no surprise.

"I know damn well I'll be back," the rookie boss said during his final media session of the season. "I'm not going anywhere. I came here to do a job. I have, in case you hadn't noticed, a little bit of passion about this job."

That he does, but he's not the one making the coaching decisions. The Winnipeg Football Club's board of governors will spend two to four weeks, as it does every year, doing a complete analysis of the season.

Each department within the organization will do its year-end review and report to president and CEO Lyle Bauer, who will then meet with the board.

"We're not in any rush," board chairman Ken Hildahl said yesterday. "I don't see any value in quick, knee-jerk reactions. We'll let everybody catch their breath for a couple of weeks, and we'll start gathering information."

Bauer, whose future has to be up in the air as well considering he handpicked Kelly, was not talking to the media yesterday. He said he will do so after exit meetings with players and coaches, and also following "some reflection."

Hildahl and the other 10 board members are not happy about the season that came to a crashing halt on Sunday with a 39-17 loss to Hamilton. The Bombers finished with a 7-11 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

"From the competitive perspective, certainly the board is disappointed," Hildahl said. "Without question."

Kelly also rubbed fans the wrong way with his sometimes combative nature, and that will no doubt be taken into account. Attendance dipped slightly, but Hildahl said the final figure won't be far off the five-year average.

Hildahl said he hears from fans wanting to get rid of the coach every year, and this season is no different. Then again, he's also hearing from Blue and Gold supporters who want Kelly to stick around.

Kelly was asked what he would say to fans who are vowing to not come to games next year if he's still in charge.

"It's not about me. It's about, 'Are you a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan?' Period," Kelly said. "... Whoever the head coach is, whoever the quarterback is, whoever the middle linebacker is, they're Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"And if you're a Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan, you're out there and you're supporting them. I don't understand anything other than that."

Hildahl said in September, when the club was 3-8, that the board wanted to see progress on the field. The Bombers went 4-3 the rest of the way, but it wasn't good enough.

Hildahl wasn't ready to proclaim that progress had been made, noting the year-end analysis would determine that.

Hildahl also wouldn't comment on whether the club could afford to pay a third coach next season if Kelly was let go, saying it would set off speculation one way or the other. Doug Berry, fired last year after an 8-10 season, is still on the payroll.

Kelly hasn't actually been told he will be back in 2010, but he listed the improvement of the special teams, receivers, offensive line and secondary as the primary reasons why he should return.

As for his mistakes, Kelly admitted he should have had an experienced quarterback in training camp and that he should have delegated the playcalling duties sooner than he did.

"We addressed a lot of needs," Kelly said. "What we've done speaks volumes for what's going to happen here over the next couple of years. We know we have a couple of things to address. We get those things addressed, and things will be just fine here.

"... The core guys that we know will be back, that young group of players that carried us so well, we all know that we're going to have rings with Ws on them at some point soon."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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