Strike two for Blue Bombers GM

Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack speaks to the media in Winnipeg, Man., Aug. 25, 2012. (BRIAN...

Blue Bombers general manager Joe Mack speaks to the media in Winnipeg, Man., Aug. 25, 2012. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:41 AM ET

WINNIPEG - Find and keep good players, hire good coaches.

Those are the two primary responsibilities of a CFL general manager.

Sure, it’d be nice if he were a public relations dream, too, good and visible in the community and all that stuff.

But that’s like expecting Bob Dylan to smile for the cameras and sign autographs, too. You’ve got the songs. Be happy.

If Joe Mack signs the CFL’s best players and finds a coach who can get the most out of them, he’s a winner.

With that in mind, I guess you could say Mack stepped up to the plate on the weekend and whiffed at another fastball.

After the off-season he had, that’s Strike 2.

Not that the proud GM will publicly admit a mistake.

But in tying the can to Paul LaPolice, Mack is doing just that — acknowledging he blew it, not only in hiring the man in 2010, but in extending his contract going into this season.

Never mind this garbage about not wanting a lame-duck coach. There’s nothing like a fast-approaching expiry date to inspire a coach to go out and earn another contract.

It worked great for Lyle Bauer and Dave Ritchie a decade or so back, producing a 14-4 season.

The same holds true for players. And if there’s one area Coach LaPo fell short, it’s in the fear department.

OK, so his in-game decisions weren’t the best, either.

But it doesn’t hurt for players to feel a little insecure about their positions on the team. Problem is, LaPolice couldn’t scare a cat with a garden hose and a Doberman.

But Mack knew exactly what he was getting. And the Mr. Nice Guy approach did get the Bombers to the Grey Cup last year.

A contract extension and eight games later, he’s outta here?

After his team, behind its third quarterback, played its behind off in a tight loss to the champion B.C. Lions?

When I first heard the news on the weekend I had a hard time believing it.

Mack had clearly made his decision after the 1-5 start, and was just waiting for another loss.

Give the GM credit for one thing: he’s consistent.

Mack spent the entire off-season showing his lack of loyalty to players, allowing them to leave with little more than a shrug, even if they were experienced all-stars.

He’d simply find others, he said.

Apparently he feels the same way about coaches.

Given the contract extension, to not give LaPolice more time to turn this mess around, a mess Mack had more than a small hand in creating, is a real head-scratcher.

Tim Burke will no doubt crack his whip and get people’s attention, at least in the short term.

But the interim boss has already admitted he doesn’t have a clue about offence. And isn’t that what this move was all about, the lack of point production?

So barring a miracle turnaround, led by first-year CFL offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton, we’re in for yet another off-season coaching search, followed by a rebuilding program under the new boss.

I wonder how much of an appetite long-starved Bomber faithful have for that.

I get the feeling they’re tired of the revolving door at the team entrance, too.

That goes for players and head coaches.

But they might be ready to push their GM through it.

I haven’t seen this much anger at the top football job since the Dump Earl Lunsford campaign a few decades ago.

It took Brendan Taman nearly 10 years to draw the kind of backlash Mack has created in less than three.

Mack could well be right that Coach LaPo wasn’t the right man for the job.

But he’s done little to suggest he is. His record, after all, is identical.

A third strike, and he should be outta here, too.


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