Bauer saddles up west

Lyle Bauer has joined the Calgary Stampeders as president and Chief Operating Officer. (QMI...

Lyle Bauer has joined the Calgary Stampeders as president and Chief Operating Officer. (QMI Agency/Al Charest)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

So Lyle Bauer's other boot has dropped, coming to rest in Cowtown.

What a coincidence.

A month after curiously resigning his post as Blue Bomber president/CEO, Bauer has parked his Harley in the foothills, as the Calgary Stampeders president/chief operating officer.

It's a return home, of sorts, as Bauer was stationed in Calgary for several years as an executive in the grain industry, before saddling up as the Bomber boss a decade ago.

Of course, this latest development was first rumoured while Bauer was still drawing paycheques from the Bombers, and if you're like me, you can't help but wonder.

Wonder if maybe, just maybe, Bauer had already communicated with his buddy, Stamps managing partner Ted Hellard, about the Calgary job before the end of the Bomber season.

That would have been before Bauer gave a very public vote of confidence to another buddy, then-Winnipeg head coach Mike Kelly. You'll recall that endorsement came before the Bomber board even had a chance to catch its breath from the tumultuous 2009 season and debate the merits of keeping Kelly, or dumping him.

The move set up a back-room game of chicken with the board, Bauer in effect daring it to fire him to get at the coach.

Being canned would have meant a good payout for Bauer, who still had at least two years left on a deal paying him several hundred thousand dollars per.

With the Calgary job waiting -- if, in fact, it was -- what a great double-dip that could have been.

Bounce this theory off the chair of the Bomber board, though, and it comes back without much oomph.

"When did the talks start? Very difficult to say," Ken Hildahl said. "I don't know that there were any formal talks. It's been well known out there that Calgary would love to have somebody of Lyle's calibre. Those rumours have been around for five years."

That still doesn't address the question of why Bauer didn't simply resign immediately after the season ended, instead of dragging out his decision for more than a month, a decision that could have saved the board some trouble -- and got it a head-start on the off-season front-office shuffle.

"Hindsight, who knows?" Hildahl said, continuing along the high road. "Lyle's normally a pretty straight shooter. He in our conversations had taken the position that he hadn't had conversations with anybody in any direct way."

Maybe it wasn't direct. Perhaps a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Either way, the bottom line is this looks like it was a done deal long ago, and that's a lousy perception.

Sure, the Stamps and Bauer took some time to make it official, probably hoping the embers of his explosive departure from the Bombers had cooled.

I don't mind fanning them, though.

If I were a Bomber board member, I wouldn't be overly impressed.

"I hope he comes second on a consistent basis to the Winnipeg Football Club," is as far as Hildahl would go.

I also don't mind giving Bauer his due. In the end, after all, he did the right thing, walking away from his lucrative contract with the Bombers, albeit a month later than he should have.

It appears he may have taken a slight demotion, too.

With the Stamps, he won't be in charge of hiring and firing head coaches, which no doubt will disappoint Bomber fans hoping to see that team unravel the way theirs did last season.

Bauer's fingerprints will be largely financial in Cowtown, something he was pretty good at, here.

Even if his boots did leave a bit of a mess.


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