New 'D' boss for Bombers?Burke finalist for top Ticats job
By PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency
|Blue Bombers defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke barks instructions during practice at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Aug. 30, 2011. (CHRIS PROCAYLO/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers should know within a day or two whether or not they’ll be looking for a new defensive co-ordinator.
Tim Burke is a finalist for the head coaching position in Hamilton, where a decision is expected by the end of the week.
“They haven’t tipped their hand,” Burke told the Winnipeg Sun from his home in Kansas, Wednesday. “I would like to be a head coach. If you’re offered the job ... there’s only eight of them. It’s something you’d have to look at, hard.”
Reports indicate the Ticats were also interested in former CFL offensive guru George Cortez, now the quarterbacks coach with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, but weren’t able to come to terms.
Burke’s loss would be significant in Winnipeg, as he helped build arguably the CFL’s top defence in his first season with the Bombers, after coming from Montreal.
Winnipeg ranked No. 1 in more of the league’s statistical categories than any other team on defence, and reached the Grey Cup largely on the strength of the unit.
If Burke, a two-time Grey Cup champ with the Alouettes, goes, Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice would be faced with finding co-ordinators on both sides of the ball, as he has yet to replace offensive co-ordinator Jamie Barresi, whom he fired after the Grey Cup.
As for the division rival Ticats, whom the Bombers bested in the East Final, they’re undergoing an extreme makeover, having fired head coach Marcel Bellefeuille and traded quarterback Kevin Glenn to Calgary for 36-year-old Henry Burris.
Burke got a hint of the pending move at quarterback in his interview with Hamilton, and says he’d be thrilled to inherit Burris as his offensive leader.
The two spent three years together in Calgary.
“He stays in great shape,” Burke said. “His body is younger than his age. He’s probably got the best arm in the CFL. And he’s mobile.”
If the Ticats don’t hire him, Burke says his Plan B is simple.
“I’d be back there,” he said, referring to the Bombers. “I’d feel good. I really enjoyed working with Paul and (GM) Joe Mack. I love the organization. I like Winnipeg a lot as a town to live in, and the fans have been great.
“It was probably the most enjoyable year I’ve spent in the CFL. There are only so many communities as involved with the team as in Winnipeg.”
LaPolice’s Plan B options, should Burke bolt, could include Greg Marshall, a former Bomber co-ordinator and longtime CFL defensive guru whose first stint as a head coach ended after just eight games with Saskatchewan last year.
“There’s nothing to report on my end,” Marshall said from California, where he’s visiting family. “I’d always listen to what people have to say.”
M.O.P. GETS A LOOK: Bomber corner Jovon Johnson, the winner of the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award last season, worked out with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, Wednesday.
Johnson’s agent, Darren Gill, says he’s working on lining up additional workouts for Johnson, an option-year player who can take advantage of the CFL’s old NFL signing window until mid-February.
Newly signed players no longer have the NFL window, until they become free agents.