Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Buono Not Feeling Nostalgic Heading into Final CFL Season with Lions

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Buono Not Feeling Nostalgic Heading into Final CFL Season with Lions

Article excerpt

Buono preparing for final CFL season

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Wally Buono wants to go out a winner.

The 2018 CFL season will be the last for the B.C. Lions veteran head coach. And Buono is willing to adopt the late Don Matthews' high-risk, high-reward mantra to win games in his final campaign.

"This is my last year and I'm going to work harder to win," Buono said during a conference call Wednesday. "If that means I've got to take more risks, then what's the worst that could happen?

"Are they going to fire me? If they do, God bless them. I'll just have an earlier retirement than I already have. To me, I want to win, Ed (GM Ed Hervey) wants to win, the coaches want to win and I think the players want to win. If that means I have to be a little bit more outside the box, hey, I'm going to do that."

Matthews, who died in 2017 at age 77, was one of the most prolific coaches in CFL history with 231 wins and 10 Grey Cups on his resume. Players loved playing for Matthews because he created a winning atmosphere and protected them. But Matthews never shied away from controversy and was always willing to roll the dice in pressure situations.

Buono, 68, has won more games than any CFL head coach (273 and counting) taking a much more conservative approach. But he's made it winning five Grey Cup titles and being named the league's top coach four times.

Buono has also been a model of consistency through his CFL career. He spent 13 seasons (winning three Grey Cups) as the head coach/GM of the Calgary Stampeders before joining the Lions in 2003.

Buono was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014 before being named to the Order of Canada in 2015.

He's entering his 12th season as B.C.'s head coach and seventh as the vice-president of football operations. Buono stepped down as GM last November following 15 seasons in the role, appointing Hervey as his replacement.

Buono isn't feeling nostalgic heading into his final CFL season.

"I want to think of it as the next season with high expectations," he said. "I've always approached it the same way.

"Honestly, I thought 2017 was going to be my last season until probably more towards the latter part of October when (owner David Braley) was very candid he wasn't going to sell and wanted me to help him in the transition. …

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