Here's How to FIX Them

By Lawless, Gary | Winnipeg Free Press, August 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Here's How to FIX Them


Lawless, Gary, Winnipeg Free Press


It's quite clear that the Bombers are broken...

Garth Buchko has a long history as a successful businessman in this community. He climbed the ranks in the radio business and oversaw CJOB while it was a ratings and profit juggernaut. Buchko can turn a 30-second radio spot into cold, hard cash. No question.

But he doesn't know diddly about football and that's no slam. It's fact. He is not the man that should be determining the future of this franchise on the field.

Let's go back a few weeks to a scene at Rae and Jerry's to better understand the demise of Paul LaPolice and for a peek into a far more troubling issue where the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are concerned.

The Bombers were 1-5 at the time and just coming off the bye week. Four of the club's players had failed to return on time for the resumption of practice. GM Joe Mack was beginning to wonder about his coach's ability to lead the team and first-year CEO Buchko had some questions of his own.

The duo met at the venerable steakhouse and the seeds of LaPolice's eventual release were planted. Buchko bought Mack's excuses and agreed LaPolice was to blame for the club's woes.

After Friday's loss to the B.C. Lions, Mack huddled with Buchko and told him he was mulling a move. Saturday morning, Mack told Buchko of his decision to fire LaPolice and the CEO convened the board via conference call and informed them of the decision.

Buchko, according to the flow chart of power in Bomberland, had to sign off on the move.

Late Saturday, after LaPolice's firing had been announced, Buchko commented Mack had his support but would be accountable for how the Bombers perform on the field for the rest of this season.

"Right now Joe has my support, has the board's support and we'll see how the season plays out," said Buchko.

The current power structure makes Mack accountable to Buchko. That's a problem. It's no slight to Buchko that he spent his career doing things other than working in football. But six months in the corner office does not a football man make.

Buchko openly calls himself a fan. The CEO of the Bombers should be passionate about the product. But he should also be above the emotional tides of a team's on-field fortunes.

Buchko gives himself away during Bombers games when he can be seen patrolling the club's sideline. He's not far enough removed to be objective about the club's performance.

The entire league snickers about Buchko's presence on the field. Moreover, it's not his job. His customers are behind him in the stands, on the concourse and in our crumbling stadium's version of luxury suites.

Buchko's priority should be making sure his customers are looked after. We all know that's not the case. This past week he was forced to answer questions about the club's sincerity when it came to delivering its product to the most loyal fans in the CFL.

There were promises of being more available and accountable to the fans going forward, but there he was on Friday night, walking the sideline and hanging on every play. …

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