VANCOUVER - After watching the B.C. Lions stumble to an embarrassing finish in the 2014 CFL season, general manager Wally Buono said changes would be coming.
He made good on that statement Thursday, as head coach Mike Benevides was fired after three years with the club.
The move was not considered a shock, as the Lions had a nightmare end to the season, with a humiliating 50-17 loss to Montreal in the East Division semifinal serving as the last straw.
"Was I in a state of shock (Sunday)? Yes," said Buono said Monday at a post-season availability with reporters. "Would I ever would have imagined that would have occurred? No.
"What did I learn about our football club? I learned the fact that we're not good enough and I learned the fact we have to do something about it."
When asked if Benevides would be back in 2015, Buono responded with: "Are any of us going to be back?"
The head coach was the first to take the fall for the performance in Sunday's game in Montreal that saw the Alouettes score at will and hold the toothless B.C. defence to three points until well into the fourth quarter.
Even before that post-season disaster, the Lions were making headlines for all the wrong reasons. They lost their last two regular-season games to division rivals Edmonton and Calgary by a combined score of 70-19.
The Lions dropped to 9-9 after those losses and finished fourth in the Western Division. They earned a playoff reprieve when they finished ahead of the Toronto Argonauts, the third place team in the East, and qualified for the semifinal in Montreal.
Benevides took over as head coach from Buono after the Lions won the 2011 Grey Cup at home. With the CFL title game at B.C Place again this year, the Lions were hoping for a repeat performance. They were buoyed by the fact that the last three Grey Cups have been won by the host team.
But injuries to some top players proved difficult to overcome. The team played almost the entire season without star quarterback Travis Lulay and the final seven games without top running back Andrew Harris.
Despite key losses, Buono still felt the Lions had the depth to make a run in the playoffs.
"That team should have been good enough to execute better (against Montreal)," said Buono. "That team should have been good enough to be able to have a very competitive game. At the end of it ... they didn't."