Kelly will be back in Blue

Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer believes the positives about Mike Kelly outweigh the...

Bombers president and CEO Lyle Bauer believes the positives about Mike Kelly outweigh the negatives. (Sun Media/Brian Donogh)

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

So Lyle Bauer has made it official.

The Blue Bomber president/CEO says Mike Kelly, the head coach he hand-picked nearly a year ago, will get another season to turn this team around.

"Mike will be back," Bauer told the Sun yesterday.

Not exactly a news flash, no.

Bauer has been in Kelly's corner through it all: the offensively-challenged start to the '09 season, the clashes with the media and fans, the embarrassing Banjo Bowl loss and subsequent fall to 3-8 and the mini-resurgence that ended abruptly with two humiliating losses and no playoff spot.

Apparently, the positives -- a hustling, fly-to-the-ball defence, improved special teams and an injection of promising, young talent -- outweigh the negatives, enough to convince him the Professor might just be on the right track.

"You have to take a look at what the good things were, and don't let those be clouded by other situations or issues," Bauer said. "And then recognize those issues and have them addressed."

Those "issues" include the Professor's inept offence and innate ability to turn people off.

Bauer seemed to acknowledge his coach has been a public relations disaster, although he didn't use that word.

"Mike has learned a lot this year," he said. "Some have probably been very hard lessons. And he will grow from it. We look forward to assisting (him) in attaining that growth."

What, maybe a PR course for the Professor?

I suggest he be forced to hire an experienced offensive co-ordinator to completely revamp the attack, too. If anyone in the CFL could be convinced to work with the guy, that is.

Really, Bauer didn't have much choice.

The day he says Kelly can't do the job is the day he himself should be climbing aboard his Harley and riding off. If he hired the wrong man, then he should resign, or be fired.

But this board of directors isn't quick to do anything, not with a possible transfer-of-ownership looming in a year.

So right now, what Bauer says, goes.

And the boss is, no doubt, loathe to pay yet another head coach to stay away. Remember, Doug Berry, fired after the '08 season, will collect cheques for another year as long as he remains unemployed.

So it's the Mike Kelly Show again, for 2010. No phone calls, perhaps, but that won't stop us from dialing in the criticism when the Professor messes up.

Contrary to popular opinion, we don't mind patting him on the back once in a while, too. Honest. Just check the archives.

It's just that his boundless ego and uncontrollable mouth would usually overshadow everything else.

I don't expect that to change, either.

As I told Bauer, you can't rub the spots off a leopard.

"It depends what you really want to rub off," was his reply. "Do you want to take the fight out of the leopard? Do you want to take the nastiness out of the leopard? If you want to turn the leopard into a kitty-cat, into a Persian, that's another thing.

"The football team reflects leadership, and that leadership's the head coach. We have a fiery football team with passion and aggression."

And a head coach that creates enough copy to fill an encyclopedia.

Before the last game, the Professor was joking to me that he could write a book about this season.

I suggested we co-author the thing, and we both had a good laugh.

I guess we'll put the book on hold.

Then again, I expect to have regular chapters in this very space for one more year.

Lucky you.

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


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