Fighting fire with firings

Jordan Haslbeck, Sports Columnist


I’m sitting here reading some old news about former Montreal Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins’ firing. I scroll to the bottom of the page and start reading comments.

“What!!! What really happened after last nights game???” writes


Well Mr. Cobra, I can’t guarantee it, but I think it’s pretty safe to say the decision to axe Higgins wasn’t made after the Alouettes’ win over the B.C. Lions.

I say this because of a similar situation with our own Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The decision to relieve LaPolice was made before the 2-6 Bombers lost to the 6-2 Lions.

The Bombers replaced LaPolice with defensive coordinator Tim Burke. The team’s record saw a slight improvement, and they went 4-6 over the second half of the season.

A record like that isn’t unusual. When a coach is fired and a new one takes over, there simply isn’t enough time for change.

When Paul Maurice replaced Claude Noel as the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, Maurice said any wins were due to the players alone, because he didn’t have enough time left in the season to install the new playbook.

In the NFL, it is very rare that a coach will be fired during the season. This may be due to how much NFL coaches are paid, how hard it is to make it to the postseason, how short the NFL season is or a mixture of all three.

Black Monday, the first Monday after the NFL regular season, is the rare day when coaches and coordinators lose their jobs. Most coaches aren’t blindsided by the news that they will be collecting unemployment checks.

Last year, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan all but knew that he was going to have to look elsewhere. It took Ryan just two weeks to find a new employer in the Buffalo Bills.

Back to the CFL.

A few weeks ago, the Bombers announced they were severing ties with special teams coordinator Pat Tracy.

The Bombers had the worst special teams record in the CFL under Tracy. With Tracy gone, head coach Mike O’Shea now leads the Bombers special teams, but that didn’t help them in the Labour Day Classic, when special teams errors helped the Saskatchewan Roughriders to their first win of the 2015 season.

Removing Tracy is a good start, but it’ll take time for O’Shea’s special teams plan to sink in. But an even better policy may be to be patient, like most NFL teams, and not rash like most CFL clubs.


Jordan Haslbeck is a reporter for Bison Sports and a mediocre beer-league hockey defenseman. He co-hosts Not Even the Press Box, a weekly radio show about the Winnipeg Jets at radio.