Marshall takes coaching snub in stride

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 PM ET

The third time was supposed to be the charm for Greg Marshall.

After being the runner-up the last two times the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hired head coaches, the longtime CFL defensive co-ordinator was the natural choice this year.

But after another roller-coaster ride the last two weeks that saw him start as the favourite, Marshall lost out again, this time to Saskatchewan offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice.

Picking himself up off the mat once more, Marshall refused to hang his head.

“If you aspire to do certain things, you have to be willing to stick your chin out there,” he told the Sun from Hamilton Thursday. “I liken it to boxing. There’s no three-knockdown limit. You keep getting up.”

Having said that, Marshall didn’t sound too keen on immediately getting back into the ring, particularly the one in Toronto, where the process has already taken more twists and turns than the one here.

“At this point in time my focus is on the job here in Hamilton,” the Tiger-Cats defensive boss said.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what went wrong for Marshall.

Board members wanted him. One, Joe Poplawski, publicly endorsed him the same day the board hired Joe Mack to be the general manager last month.

Apparently, Mack wasn’t listening.

“I’m just disappointed,” Marshall said. “I thought this might be the one. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be.”

Marshall had an extensive interview with Mack in Toronto, Tuesday. A CFL assistant for 16 years, he says he couldn’t put his finger on what may have cost him.

“Maybe they wanted more of an offensive flair,” he guessed.

LaPolice, 40, has been the offensive co-ordinator in Saskatchewan the last two years, helping the Riders reach the 2009 Grey Cup game.

“He’s respected across the league for the job he does,” Marshall said of the man who beat him out.

Marshall is, too — but, perhaps, on the wrong side of the ball.

“I don’t think that should be the determining factor,” he said.

The last two times in Winnipeg, Marshall has lost out to coaches with offensive backgrounds: Doug Berry, in 2006, and Mike Kelly, just over a year ago.

But he doesn’t consider himself having struck out, here, three times.

“I don’t count the last one,” he said, referring to the way Kelly was handed the job by former Bomber president/CEO Lyle Bauer, with little serious competition.

After Berry got the Winnipeg job, Marshall served as his defensive co-ordinator for three years, turning one of the league’s all-time worst defences into one of its best.

But when Kelly beat him out the second time, he cleaned out his office and headed for Hamilton, where he’s helped turn around a lousy Ticats defence.


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