Mack making progress

New Bombers vice president and GM Joe Mack has had conversations with several potential coaching...

New Bombers vice president and GM Joe Mack has had conversations with several potential coaching candidates. (QMI Agency/Brian Donogh)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are inching closer towards a new head coach.

Joe Mack, who was hired as the team's new GM just last Friday, started conducting interviews on Monday at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

"It's been productive," Mack said Monday night from Mobile. "I've kind of got it down to three or four candidates. I think we're making some progress."

Mack wouldn't say whom he interviewed, but a source in Alabama said Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice was one of them.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, who many believe to be the leading candidate, has been contacted by the Bombers. Nothing official, however, has been set up.

"I'm just waiting to hear how they want to handle it," Marshall said.

Other possible finalists include Montreal Alouettes defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke and Calgary offensive co-ordinator George Cortez. The Gazette reported Monday that the Bombers asked the Alouettes for permission to speak with Burke.

The Blue and Gold have also asked for permission to speak with Alouettes offensive co-ordinator Scott Milanovich.

MORE ROSS: One day after the firing of player personnel director John Murphy, Mack said he hopes director of football operations Ross Hodgkinson will remain with the club.

"We had a very lengthy, insightful, frank discussion. It was good," Mack said. "I got a better sense of what he does. He really cares about the Bombers. I sensed that in our conversation.

"I kind of professed to him that I'd like him to stay on in his current capacity, and I hope he would want to do that. He'd have a chance to make a real contribution for us."

Hodgkinson and Mack know each other from Mack's first stint with the Bombers in the mid-1980s. Hodgkinson was Winnipeg's athletic trainer.

BIRD DOG NEEDED: Mack would like to hire a personnel man of some kind, and the plan would be for him to be based in the U.S.

He said there won't be a shortage of candidates once he finalizes the job description.

"I'm pleasantly pleased that a few people that I've known that have a lot of experience are wanting to consider coming with us," he said. "So that's good.

"It's a little bit of a leap of faith, because some of them haven't worked in the CFL before. Most of them have a lot of NFL experience. But I think we have a chance to get some good people and they have some really vast networks in the States, so that should be helpful if we can get them."

Mack said the Canadian scouting is already covered, which suggests receivers coach and CFL draft co-ordinator Bob Dyce's job is safe.

"Coach Dyce does some of the Canadian stuff, and I'll help out with that. Maybe Ross, too," Mack said. "So we'll keep on top of the Canadian stuff."

ASSISTANT WATCH: Mack said he hasn't told any of the assistant coaches to look for other work. The new coach, however, will get to choose his own staff.

"If (the new coach) is not somebody from the (current) staff, I'm going to strongly suggest that whoever comes in gives a fair opportunity to anybody still here," Mack said.

WORD ON JOHN: Even though interim president Jim Bell made the final decision, Mack said the entire organization felt it was best to make a "clean break" when it came to firing Murphy.

"I don't know this for a fact, but I believe John Murphy was telling people -- and this may be true -- that he didn't have to report to anybody in football, or with a football lineage," Mack said. "So that would've put me out of the loop and that actually would've had him reporting to Jim."

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos