Berry not taking matchup personally

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

Doug Berry insists it's just another game, that he'll have no extra motivation guiding the Saskatchewan Roughriders offence against his old team, the Blue Bombers, in Regina this weekend.

But we imagine it'd be a different story if the same regime (read: president Lyle Bauer, the man who fired him at the end of the 2008 season) were still in charge of the Bombers.

"There's been so much change, that there's not much left there that has my name attached to it any longer," Berry, the Riders offensive co-ordinator, said over the phone from Regina, Monday. "So there really isn't that much feeling. I'm just moving on like it's another game."

It hasn't always been that easy for Berry, fired after compiling a 27-26-1 record over three seasons in Winnipeg.

The guy had never been a head coach before, so he'd never been directly fired -- and it stung.

"This one was the finger pointing directly at me," he said.

So the man who took the Bombers to the 2007 Grey Cup game spent a good part of 2009 taking a long look in the mirror, in between projects on a new home.

"I just spent a lot of time reflecting back on the three years," Berry said. "And thinking, 'If I'm going to do this again, how would I be different? How can I make things better for the next time around?' It gave me time to stop and think."

And what did he come up with?

"Would you believe I want to be nicer to the media?" Berry said, chuckling. "I don't think I was to the national media as much as I was to the local. When you're trying to brand yourself, you have to advertise yourself. That was one of my shortcomings."

It's true, Berry's national image wasn't great. He was curt with TV interviewers, lost his temper on the sidelines a few times.

But that's not what got him fired.

"It was probably wins and losses, I don't know," he said. "I never did find out."

Bauer canned Berry -- just months after signing him to a contract extension, no less -- because the Bombers regressed from a 10-win season in '07.

Not to mention the fact Bauer had a replacement in mind. An old friend by the name of Mike Kelly.

So even though Berry's team rebounded from a disastrous 1-6 start to finish 8-10 and sneak into the playoffs, he was gone.

There's one feeling that's still with Berry from his days here: that if it weren't for a broken bone in quarterback Kevin Glenn's arm, he might be wearing a championship ring today.

"That feeling will probably never go away," he said.

Still proud of the turnaround he orchestrated here, he acknowledges he allowed his team to stagnate after that Grey Cup appearance.

"I didn't want to accept the term 'complacency,' but maybe there was some," Berry said. "And it took us a long time to beat that back. But when you win seven of your last 11, that's not bad. I thought we finished quite strong.

"I thought we were well positioned for 2009, but that will never be known."

Kelly tore that team apart, and the Bombers haven't been the same, since.

As for Berry, he began to wonder last August just what the hell he was doing sitting down in Florida (and still collecting paycheques from the Bombers) when he loved the CFL so much. So he kept his eyes open for the right situation.

And when Riders offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice took his old job here, he called Saskatchewan head coach Ken Miller about filling LaPolice's shoes.

This weekend, his offence ranked No. 1 in the CFL but coming off a lousy outing in Edmonton, Berry will face his old team for the first time.

"When I first started watching film and see Winnipeg on the defensive side, I would be thinking that was us," he said. "But... I think I know which sideline I'm going to run over to now."


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