Part of the package

Ticats defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall says he’s just letting the process play out. (QMI...

Ticats defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall says he’s just letting the process play out. (QMI Agency)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won't just be hiring their new vice-president of football operations later this week or next.

Their new head coach is essentially part of the package, too.

Joe Mack, Brendan Taman and Jim Barker are the top three candidates for the VP position, although things can change when someone is selected and contract details start being discussed. Ross Hodgkinson, Winnipeg's director of football operations since 2006, also got an interview but is viewed as a long shot.

The Bomber board of directors will meet tomorrow and hear the recommendation of the search committee, which consists of Paul Robson, Bill Watchorn, Joe Poplawski and Gene Dunn. When the 11-member board gets its man, the new head coach likely won't be far behind.

So who are some of the coaches tied to the three leading candidates? Nothing is set in stone and the CFL fraternity is quite an intricate web, but it's usually more about who you know best -- and trust.

The name most connected to Barker, the senior vice-president of football operations and director of player personnel with the Calgary Stampeders, is Montreal Alouettes assistant coach and offensive co-ordinator Scott Milanovich.

Barker coached Milanovich in the XFL during its one and only season of 2001. Barker was the offensive co-ordinator for the Los Angeles Xtreme, while Milanovich was one of the team's quarterbacks. Milanovich also oversaw the quarterbacks on Barker's staff when the latter was Calgary's head coach in 2003.

Other names linked to Barker include a pair of CFL defensive co-ordinators with whom he is familiar: Calgary's Chris Jones and Montreal's Tim Burke, formerly of the Stamps.

The popular name tied to Taman, the director of football administration with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is Greg Marshall. The two worked together in Winnipeg for four seasons; Taman as the GM and Marshall as the defensive co-ordinator.

Milanovich and Marshall, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' assistant coach and defensive co-ordinator, are both candidates for Toronto's head coaching position as well. Milanovich has reportedly been interviewed by the Boatmen, while Marshall has not.

Marshall, who has twice been a finalist to become Winnipeg's head coach, said Tuesday he has not been in touch with Taman.

"I'm just kind of letting the process play out," Marshall said. "And then once it does and they're at the stage where I can come into play, I'll start coming into play, I guess."

There are some in the CFL, however, who feel Marshall might not be Taman's surefire selection, that the former Bomber GM is also a fan of Milanovich. Others feel Taman, should he get the nod, may go in with an open mind and let potential field generals prove their worth through the interview process.

Mack, meanwhile, is the wildcard. He hasn't worked in the CFL since 1987, so most of his connections from those days would be long gone. Mack is reportedly good friends with Alouettes head coach Marc Trestman.

If he has more friends like that, he just might be the best choice of all.

STILL IN LIMBO: Bombers director of player personnel John Murphy, who is in Florida scouting the East-West Shrine Game practices, said Tuesday he hasn't been contacted by the search committee about an interview.

Murphy, who applied for the team's VP of football ops position, declined comment when asked about not being one of Winnipeg's leading candidates, saying he will simply continue to do his job.

MIGRATION CONTINUES: The CFL's rookie of the year is headed south.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed B.C. Lions running back Martell Mallett on Tuesday, even though he wasn't going into the option year of his contract.

The Vancouver Province reported that Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono gave Mallett a small window to work out for NFL teams, and he obviously made the most of that chance.

The departure of Mallett, who finished fourth in league rushing with 1,240 yards, means the CFL's top two rookies from 2009 have jumped ship. The East Division's top rookie, Bomber defensive back Jonathan Hefney, signed with the Detroit Lions earlier this month.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Photos