Greg Marshall finally has his face-to-face with Winnipeg Blue Bomber GM Joe Mack.
Mack will fly to Toronto today, partly to stop by the CFL head office and partly to arrange a meeting in which he'll interview Marshall, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive co-ordinator, for the head coach's position with the Bombers.
"I'm excited to meet him," Marshall told the Sun last night. "And to get the opportunity to talk about the position. We'll see where it goes."
Until now, Marshall and Mack have only spoken by phone, making this the first chance for them to get to know each other.
The meeting could be critical to Marshall's chances of landing the job vacated by the firing of Mike Kelly in December.
With Calgary offensive guru George Cortez taking a job with the NFL's Buffalo Bills, it appears the Winnipeg job is down to Marshall and Saskatchewan Roughriders offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice.
Marshall was Winnipeg's defensive boss for three years under Doug Berry, while LaPolice has also been an offensive co-ordinator with the Bombers.
"I have narrowed it down to just a few candidates," Mack said from his North Carolina home, declining to divulge names. "I've got a positive response from everybody I've spoken to about them. I've spoken to team executives, former players. And (the coaches) seem to be generally enthused about the prospect of maybe becoming the Bomber head coach."
The Winnipeg GM says he hopes to have his interviews wrapped up on Wednesday, then take a day or so to mull things over before making his decision, hopefully by the end of the week.
Asked if the Winnipeg situation, or any, for that matter, called for a head coach to either have a background in offence or defence, Mack said he didn't think so.
"I'm not really sure that it does matter," he said, referring to a pair of well-known NFL coaches as examples. "I've seen people on both sides. I've worked with Joe Gibbs, he was an offensive coach. And coach (Bill) Belichick is considered a defensive coach and he's had great success. It more has to do with the leadership qualities that somebody brings to the table, more than what side of the ball they are."
QUIRKY SCHEDULE: The Bombers released their full 2010 schedule Monday, and it has the team playing Hamilton four times in the first seven league games, plus once in the preseason.
"I found that a little bit unusual," Mack said. "I'd rather have that spread out a little more. But to really lament it or gnash your teeth over it, you just have to deal with it."
The CFL season opens with two games on Canada Day, including a Grey Cup rematch between Montreal and Saskatchewan.
The first-ever game in Atlantic Canada will see Edmonton take on Toronto in Moncton, Sept. 26.