Bomber coaches in limbo

Bombers defensive line coach Richard Harris (left) has put roots down in Winnipeg and would like to...

Bombers defensive line coach Richard Harris (left) has put roots down in Winnipeg and would like to stay with the Bombers organization. (QMI Agency file)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

They are coaches in limbo, not knowing where they'll be working this year, or who they'll be working for.

But ask them about the stress of that uncertainty, and you get little more than a shrug.

"Been there, done that," Richard Harris, the Blue Bombers defensive line coach, told the Sun.

"You can't sit there and just fret about everything," added Bobby Dyce, in charge of receivers. "I've lost all my hair already. I don't know what else can happen."

Like the rest of Mike Kelly's staff, Harris and Dyce have a keen interest in what happens on Maroons Road. All except Manny Matsakis are under contract for 2010.

But unlike the others, Harris and Dyce have put down more than surface roots in the 'Peg, Harris having lived here year-round since 2006, Dyce a native Winnipegger who's never worked for another CFL team.

Between them, they've got a dozen years in blue and gold (Harris four, Dyce eight), and they wear the colours on their sleeves.

"These are the best colours in the entire league -- anywhere," Harris said, a statement that means more when you consider where he's been.

A gentle giant of a man, the 61-year-old from Shreveport, LA., spent eight seasons in the NFL as a player (Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle), before embarking on a coaching career with indoor and semi-pro teams in the American northwest.

Ten years ago he came to Canada, and he's found the city he wants to end his career in.

"I like the people," Harris said. "The organization has been good to me, overall. I see people suffering. And I say suffering, because they've wanted to have a championship here for quite some time. And I'd like to be a part of it.

"I want a ring before I go. I never got a ring as a player. I figure Winnipeg would be great for me to do that."

Harris is so respected around the league, he's never out of work for long. If the next Bombers head coach doesn't want him around, somebody will.

"I never really consider it limbo," he said of his current status. "I guess I've been fortunate, in that since I've been in this league, I've always had options. And that's still the case as it is today. I'm under contract, so I can't talk to anybody as I stand. I'm hoping things work out where I can stay here."

As for Dyce, 44, he's been through this three times before, with the firings of Dave Ritchie, Jim Daley and Doug Berry.

"The first time was certainly stressful," Dyce said. "You don't know what's going to happen."

So far, the new guy's always brought him back.

Of course, all streaks must come to an end.

"I'd be lying if I say I don't think about it at all," Dyce said. "Whether I'm working here or whether I'm working somewhere else down the line... all I can do is my best work now. I rely on my past body of work. Hopefully someone sees value in that."

Dyce has coached running backs, special teams and, for the last six years, the receivers. He also does much of the research for the Canadian college draft.

A former assistant with the U of M Bisons, he knows it's rare for a pro coach to be working in his home town for so long.

"Ideally, I would love to stay here," Dyce said. "I consider myself blessed to be here for eight years already. I would love to make it nine, 10, 11, 12. Is that always realistic? Am I going to have to leave at some point, to move up? Probably.

"But right now it's the best thing for me and my family to stay here."

Problem is, for Dyce and Harris, it might not be up to them.

Then again, if they can survive the Mike Kelly era, maybe they can survive anything.

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


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