Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke talks to quarterback Alex Brink during a game against the Stampeders at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg, Man., Oct. 13, 2012. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)
WINNIPEG - Tim Burke has taken great strides these past few weeks in showing he has the potential to be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers long-term solution as head coach.
Put in a tough position of accepting the interim job after Paul LaPolice was fired following a 2-6 start, Burke survived some rocky moments that included blowout losses at the hands of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders and somehow has managed to turn the ship around -- or at least steer it away from the oncoming iceberg.
Although a 5-11 record for 2012 isn't much to write home about, especially not after appearing in the Grey Cup last November, the Blue Bombers found a way to sneak back into the playoff picture with two games remaining.
Since that embarrassing 44-3 defeat at the hands of the Stamps, Burke actually minimized the damage by showing his players footage of how they were being viewed.
"The low point was Calgary, obviously. We hit bottom there," Burke said Monday. "Then we started bringing it back together. That whole thought of how everybody on the outside of our program was looking at the players and the coaches and then bringing that to their attention, got their attention. Obviously, they didn't want to be perceived as losers or quitters. Since that point, we've played a heck of a lot better. We've been in every game and we've played hard."
A report surfaced Monday that the Blue Bombers might be ready to remove the interim label from Burke's job title.
A request through a team spokesman for comment on the matter from Blue Bombers CEO Garth Buchko was met with a polite "no comment" on Monday afternoon and that didn't really come as a shock.
Before a question could even be asked, Burke took time during his daily media briefing to say that he had not spoken to the Blue Bombers about his future as of yet.
"I have not heard anything from the organization," said Burke, who was quick to declare his interest. "I would love to be the head coach here next year, but nothing has been said to me by anybody."
When asked if he had an agent or would be handling those type of negotiations himself, Burke made it clear his focus was on finishing the season strong and letting the chips fall where they may.
"Let's not get into hypotheticals," said Burke, whose club is 3-5 under his watch. "If it happens, I'll be glad to tell you what's going on."
Honesty has been Burke's policy since taking the reins and it's a good bet his old-school approach is earning him points with the folks who will be making the decision about keeping him on or letting him go.
Burke seems like the perfect candidate to be the head coach as the Blue Bombers get set to open a brand new stadium in 2013.
However, simply handing him the job right now and rushing to judgement would be a colossal mistake.
Given the instability at general manager and head coach for the Blue Bombers during the past decade and change, Buchko and company should conduct a thorough search before making a final decision — especially since there's no guarantee GM Joe Mack will be sticking around.
Don't keep Burke twisting in the wind too long either.
However, it would be an error to simply move forward without finding out who might actually be interested and available for the job.
Burke may well be the answer, but you better be darn sure that he's undoubtedly the best man for the job or you might be conducting another search far too soon.