Gutsy move, LaPo

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:28 PM ET

It’s about the hiring of Tim Burke as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ new defensive co-ordinator, which should be official Tuesday afternoon.

Head coach Paul LaPolice, feel free to take a bow on this one.

Just don’t turn your back.

I’m not implying that Burke is coming here from Montreal simply because he wants Coach LaPo’s job.

But let’s face it: he wants Coach LaPo’s job.

There’s not an assistant coach out there who doesn’t aspire to run his own show one day. Some want it more than others, and are closer to getting their shot.

Burke, the Alouettes DC the last three years, obviously feels he’s close. He wouldn’t have applied for the job LaPolice eventually got, just over a year ago, if he didn’t feel ready.

So why, a year later, would the six-year CFL assistant leave the comfortable, high-rent district of Montreal to move into the East Division’s basement suite, for basically the same job?

Because his pad in Montreal contained some writing on the wall regarding his future, and it didn’t contain the words “promoted to head coach.”

For starters, Als boss Marc Trestman’s job, after back-to-back Grey Cup titles, is more secure than Brink’s.

And in the event Trestman moves on to greener pastures in the next couple of years, aka the NFL, it appears Als offensive boss Scott Milanovich is in line to don the top headset. If that wasn’t clear before, it is now.

So what’s a guy to do?

Look for a place that’s not quite as stable. As the tire guy in the old TV commercial said, “I’m goin’ to Winnipeg.”

The Bombers will likely sweeten the gig by allowing Burke to print the words “assistant head coach” on his business cards.

But the real attraction here is the grip LaPolice has on the top job.

I’m not suggesting Coach LaPo is about to take the big fall. But after a 4-14 debut season, the fingers have loosened, just a touch.

His options: get paranoid, or get better.

LaPolice obviously isn’t looking over his shoulder, fretting over his situation and wondering what might happen if he starts 0-3.

Hiring one of the men who wanted his job in the first place is a gutsy move, and suggests he has a solid set of Wilsons.

Reminds me of when Doug Berry got the top Bomber job over Greg Marshall in 2006, then turned right around and hired Marshall as his defensive lieutenant. It takes equal parts confidence and smarts to do something like that.

It worked out all right for the Bombers, too, as they went to the Grey Cup in Year 2 of the Berry regime.

This move’s even more ballsy than that, given the fact Berry was brand new on the job, while LaPolice’s clock has been ticking for a year.

The other thing that strikes me about the Burke hiring is the man’s credentials, the loss of which has to be a blow to the division rival Als.

Again, nice move, Coach LaPo.

In failing to tackle his first choice, Richie Hall, then grabbing only air when he went after up-and-coming Calgary assistant Cory Chamblin, LaPolice isn’t exactly settling for an unqualified third option.

This is like being turned down for dates by Adriana Lima and Alessandra Ambrosio, only to have Heidi Klum step in.

While Burke’s defence might have developed a few warts in 2010, it was a knockout in the playoffs. The year before, it was ranked No. 1 in the league.

And it’s been murder to run against, which, when you’re trying to stop somebody, is a great place to start.

So a pat on the back to Coach LaPo, who may have hired the right man for the job — and the right man for his job.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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