Bauer gets the blame

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:21 PM ET

Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans believe they know the identity of the culprit who robbed them of a joyful CFL season.

Believe it or not, it's not Mike Kelly (although he was an accessory).

It goes higher than that.

The majority of the record 733 respondents to the Sun's annual You Be The Boss poll have laid the blame for Winnipeg's dismal 7-11 season at the feet of president and CEO Lyle Bauer.

The majority want Kelly gone, but even more would like to see Bauer vacate the premises after a decade at the helm.

In sharp contrast to the last four seasons, when Bauer enjoyed an average approval rating of 85%, only 37% want the big boss to stick around for the 2010 season.

They might get their wish, too, if rumblings about Bauer picking up and moving to Calgary after the Grey Cup are true. (Club chairman Ken Hildahl laughed at that notion on Friday and added the Stampeders have not asked for permission to speak to Bauer. Then again, that's never stopped anyone before.)

Somewhat surprisingly, Kelly got more backing than Bauer -- but not much, as only 43.9% of those who took the poll want to keep the coach. Doug Berry got 44.8% support last year just before he was canned.

The club's board of directors will make an announcement in two or three weeks about who's staying, who's going and what they're going to do to turn the franchise around.

Here's what the paying customers believe should happen and their thoughts on a tumultuous 2009 campaign:

- Unidentified quarterback, come on down! You're the next contestant on the Bombers quarterback carousel! More than 75% want the Bombers to get a new starting quarterback in 2010. Starter Michael Bishop and third-stringer Ricky Santos tied for the lead among QBs under contract, but both got a paltry 9.8% of the vote. Probably those same 75% want a new offensive co-ordinator who has CFL experience.

- Last year 82% wanted quarterback Kevin Glenn gone, and they got their wish. Today, after Glenn eliminated the Bombers from playoff contention, 66% believe getting rid of Glenn was a bad idea. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

- We asked the public to keep or punt 49 Bombers players. It wants to keep 45 of them, proving it doesn't think the men in uniform were the problem. Last year we asked about the status of 49 players, and fans wanted to keep 42.

- Of the four players fans want to punt, three are quarterbacks (Bishop, Casey Bramlet and Stefan LeFors). In Winnipeg? No way!

- Poor Troy Westwood. Nearly 80% believe bringing in the punter near the end of the season was a good thing, but only 35% want him to return in 2010.

- Placekicker Alexis Serna won over the Bombers faithful in 2009 with a solid sophomore campaign. Last year 57% wanted him gone; today 6% want him to hit the pavement.

- Middle linebacker Barrin Simpson had a wild and wacky season, but his support has skyrocketed. Only 52% wanted to keep him last year; now 78% want him to stay and two-thirds (67%) want him to start ahead of Joe Lobendahn.

- The majority (51%) feels the Bombers are only a quarterback away from the Grey Cup, but right behind it are the 46% who believe the Bombers have serious problems.

- As for the most talked about man on Maroons Road this season, the fans are not happy with the way he acted off the field. Half of the fan base (49.5%) thinks Kelly's off-field actions have tarnished the Bomber brand "a lot" and that it won't be repaired until he's gone. Another 41% believes he tarnished the franchise "somewhat" but that it can be fixed over time. In addition, 74% think he should take calls on his call-in radio show.

- Finally, when it comes to the stadium/ownership debate, 54.2% want David Asper to take over as soon as possible. That's down minimally from the 54.7% who wanted Asper to assume control a year ago at this time.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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