The Winnipeg Blue Bombers' decision to cut ties with Paul LaPolice on Saturday sent shockwaves through the CFL as the 2-6 club sought to change the momentum of their 2012 season.
One rival executive, however – B.C. Lions general manager Wally Buono – believes the wrong man paid the price for the team's lack of on-field success.
"To blame Paul is easy," Buono told Vancouver radio station Team 1040 on Monday. "You appease the fans, you appease the media somewhat and you probably appease the players in the locker room."
"But, at the end of the day, it's the players who play for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who aren't getting their job done. [They] get unnecessary roughness penalties, [they] take penalty after penalty ... it's not the coach who's preaching that."
Despite sitting with the league's worst record, the season has not yet reached its halfway-point and the Bombers find themselves just one win behind Hamilton for third place in the East Division.
Buono doesn't see the team's fortunes dramatically improving with former defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke calling the shots instead of LaPolice.
"I just don't believe firing a coach in the middle of a season is a positive thing or is going to be able to give you long-term results," Buono said. "When you look at it over history, I don't think that it's ever – maybe once – ever proven to be fruitful."
LaPolice refrained from getting into the debate on Monday, releasing a statement that said in part, "there are always two sides to every story, but I do not believe that defending myself publicly will change anything."
Still, Buono took the side of the dismissed coach over that of the club that isn't living up to expectations.
"I don't have sympathy [for] the guys that have a chance to remedy that," Buono said. "I have sympathy for a guy who - really, when you look at it - wasn't, maybe, given the support he should have been given."
Meanwhile, Buono also addressed the future of his club's defensive corps now that the hard-hitting Solomon Elimimian has been released by the Minnesota Vikings.
The former Lions linebacker has 10 days as of August 27 to catch on with another NFL club before the club could entertain thoughts of bringing the 2010 CFL Rookie of the Year back to B.C.
"When you look at our linebackers – [Adam] Bighill, [Anton] McKenzie, [James] Yurichuk, [Jason] Arakgi – I think they've been very, very good for us," Buono told the Team 1040. "To get another quality player, I just don't see how that hurts us."
Still, the GM is wary of upsetting the chemistry of a team that has posted a league-best 6-2 record through the first eight games of the season.
"Adam [Bighill] has been a stellar player for us and I don't want him to be looking over his shoulder because I don't think that would be fair to him," Buono said. "The thing about football is you've got to have good football players because injuries are a part of it. If you don't have good football players you can hurt yourself."