August 26, 2012
Bombers GM Mack on noticePresident Buchko says GM needs to be 'accountable'
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Joe Mack is on the clock.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM fired head coach Paul LaPolice after he failed to adjust to all of the personnel moves he made — or failed to make — during the off-season.
But Mack will now have to face the music if interim head coach Tim Burke is unable to work with what he has inherited on the football field.
"When I was hired six months ago, I said Joe Mack will be accountable for wins and losses, hiring the people and putting the best people on the field," Bombers president/CEO Garth Buchko said Saturday.
Mack made the move after awarding LaPolice with a contract extension because he had led the Bombers to their first Grey Cup appearance since 2007, and was nominated as a CFL Coach of the Year candidate.
"Joe made the decision to extend Paul's contract, and he also made the decision that we need to go in a different direction," said Buchko, who added that he and Mack had a lengthy discussion about LaPolice's future after a three-point loss to the reigning Grey Cup champion B.C. Lions on Friday night.
So, Mack faces scrutiny should the Bombers continue to lose under Burke — especially if he does not bring in some talent where it's most needed.
"Joe needs to be accountable," Buchko affirmed. "We are all accountable to the success of the football operation, be it on the field or on the business side of our operation. So, Joe is accountable and will be held accountable, and we'll see where that goes.
"But right now, Joe has my support, has the board's support and we'll see how the season plays out."
Buchko added that he and Mack had been discussing LaPolice's status since the team stumbled to an 0-4 start.
"This was based on an ongoing discussion with Joe about his assessment of the football club, based on players, the talent, the coaching and the injuries and to me, the last six months has been whirlwind education on the process on the reason for hiring and firing coaches," Buchko said.
After sleeping on it overnight, Mack told Buchko this morning that he had decided to send the man he hired packing.
"He gave me his decision and I fully supported it," Buchko said. "Then, it was my role to have a board meeting conference call and inform them of the decision, and get their feedback. They were very supportive also."
Mack had signed LaPolice to a three-year extension (two plus an option) before the season started, at about $230,000 a year.
"Any severance is expensive for any company," Buchko said. "It's an amount we can certainly handle."