Bombers GM Mack, coach Burke to know fate before Grey Cup

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The Canadian Press
10/29/2012 2:27:53 PM
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WINNIPEG -- After another disappointing season, Blue Bomber general manager Joe Mack should know before the Grey Cup whether he still has a job in 2013, says team president Garth Buchko.

Speaking Monday at Investors Group Field, where he was showing off progress on the team's new home, he said he and the board are currently reviewing all aspects of the club's operations.

"The team's record overall is disappointing and it's not acceptable and we will review everything in the whole organization, including football operations," said Buchko.

There have been reports interim head coach Tim Burke is liked by Bomber brass and will be offered a permanent job. But Buchko said that isn't his issue.

"My job is to hire one person and that's the general manager in football operations," he said. "What happens with the coach after that is the general manager's job and so I need to make an assessment on Joe Mack, my board needs to make an assessment on Joe Mack."

He promised the answer before the Grey Cup. Last year under Mack, the Bombers finished first in the East and made it to the Grey Cup, where they lost to the B.C. Lions.

That highlight of Mack's tenure is bookended by a 4-14 season in 2010 and this season, with the Bombers in the CFL cellar at 5-12.

The team's performance has already cost head coach Paul LaPolice his job. Burke was defensive co-ordinator when he was drafted to take over mid-season.

Earlier Monday, Burke said quarterback Buck Pierce will sit out the final game when the Bombers bring down the curtain on 2012 Saturday against the Montreal Alouettes.

Pierce heads a long list not expected to suit up. Burke said he had to write it down so he could remember all the names and injuries.

Besides Pierce, the team isn't sure No. 1 backup Joey Elliott can start since he banged up his knee Saturday. He had ACL surgery last year.

The Bombers will also be without their two best running backs -- Chad Simpson and Will Ford -- plus receivers Terrence Edwards and Isaac Anderson.

At this point, they don't expect Johnny Sears to play either, which once again opens a hole at strong-side linebacker. Question marks hang over several other players.

Saturday's game means nothing on paper to either team.

Montreal (11-6) has sewn up first place in the East and Winnipeg lost its last chance to make the playoffs with a rain-soaked 28-18 loss in Hamilton that closed the doors on Ivor Wynne Stadium.

And while this also is the last CFL game at Winnipeg's Canad Inns Stadium, even that has no magic. The Bombers had a lot of last-game hoopla last season, when they thought they were going to play 2012 at their new home.

That didn't happen, leaving fans to grumble about the failure of Bomber brass to keep them fully informed about construction progress on Investors Group Field.

Buchko, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz were at the new $190-million stadium Monday to show off the installation of the artificial turf and goal posts.

But crews were still completing other work on the 33,500-seat shared facility, located on the southern edge of town at the University of Manitoba.

It was certainly a disappointing season for Pierce, who started less than half the 16 games he managed in 2011 and finished less than half of those, as a foot injury then concussion kept him off the field.

This time it's his shoulder that will prevent him from playing Saturday.

As they begin practising Tuesday for that final game of 2012, Burke says the team knows there will be changes coming in 2013, one way or another.

"This is the last chance for us as a team to bring our camaraderie together and to play together as a team and do it for each other. That's going to be my message."

Joe Mack (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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