Mack's pat on back

Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack speaks with the media in Winnipeg, Man., Nov. 8, 2010. (QMI...

Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack speaks with the media in Winnipeg, Man., Nov. 8, 2010. (QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:23 AM ET

WINNIPEG - ’Tis the season of upheaval across the CFL — but a sea of stability, relatively speaking, here in the land of the 21-year Grey Cup drought.

Winnipeg Blue Bomber GM Joe Mack may not have ended that championship famine in his first two seasons at the helm, but he’ll get every chance to do so beyond 2012, which was the third and final year of his initial deal.

The Bomber board will sign Mack to a contract extension before too long, and not long after Mack will do the same with head coach Paul LaPolice.

“You want to do it well before the season starts, and well before you set up the program for next year,” board chairman Bill Watchorn said, Monday. “It should be done no later than the end of January, hopefully, the middle of February. The board collectively believes Joe has done a great job.”

Ask Watchorn what has impressed him most about Mack, and he gets unusually wordy.

“He’s a person of integrity, ethics,” the chairman began. “He’s intense... he understands people and understands you’ve got to develop over time. He’s loyal to his coaches and his players. He’s very personal with them. He’s a great scout. He has access to good players, as you’ve seen.

“And over time he’s building a great football organization. That doesn’t leave much out.”

It’s hard to argue, although a nitpicker could point to Mack’s lack of media savvy. Grey Cup week, the guy was the invisible man.

“He’s not the kind of guy, and as a matter of fact neither am I, that requires the spotlight, seeks it out,” Watchorn said. “We’re there to do a job, and we just plow ahead. At some point you guys will judge whether it’s a good job or bad job.”

Pretty good, so far

Yes, we will. And so far, it’s pretty good.

Two years ago the Bombers were a 7-11 public relations disaster. One 4-14 rebuilding campaign later, they went 10-8 and made it to the Grey Cup, selling out eight straight home games and turning an expected profit of some $2 million.

“It’s on the right track. In all aspects,” Watchorn said. “The fan appreciation of the team, the team’s performance, the cohesiveness of the management team, the coaching staff and the players — they all feel it.”

Actually, I’m pretty sure fired offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi isn’t feeling it.

Barresi’s departure, and LaPolice’s cryptic explanation, raises some questions about team unity behind the scenes.

It won’t take the spotlight off the head man’s play-calling, either.

The Bombers have permission to interview old friend Bob Dyce, a Riders assistant, for the OC job.

But that move could be overshadowed by the loss of defensive coordinator Tim Burke, who’ll interview for the head job in Saskatchewan, if not elsewhere.

Looking for two co-ordinators, though, is a breeze compared to the storm winds blowing elsewhere.

No less than half the CFL’s eight teams are changing head coaches, B.C. Lions boss Wally Buono relinquishing that part of his job, Monday.

Buono, of course, goes out on top, leaving LaPolice, with just two years under his belt, as the third-longest-serving head coach in the loop, behind only Marc Trestman in Montreal and John Hufnagel in Calgary.

Of course, those two are also wearing Grey Cup rings, the ultimate provider of job security.

Here, steady progress, not to mention a relatively sane relationship with fans and the media, is enough to warrant a further look.

Call it a low bar, if you want.

Or the first step to ending the drought.

Like someone once said about any new relationship: eventually, either you get married, or you break up.

The Bombers, Mack and LaPolice aren’t ready to break up.

But that’s all we know for sure.


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