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TrueBlue4ever

The MBB All-time Blue Bomber Team: Coach and General Manager

The MBB All-time Blue Bomber Team: Coach and General Manager  

37 members have voted

  1. 1. Who were the greatest Blue Bomber coach and G.M. ever? (choose one of each)

    • Coach - Bud Grant
      27
    • Coach - Cal Murphy
      3
    • Coach - Mike Riley
      4
    • Coach - Dave Ritchie
      1
    • Coach - Reg Threlfall
      2
    • G.M. - Jim Ausley
      4
    • G.M. - Earl Lunsford
      0
    • G.M. - Cal Murphy
      27
    • G.M. - Paul Robson
      1
    • G.M. - Joe Ryan
      2


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Choose one from each category. Here are the bios:

COACHES

 

Bud Grant

- Regular Season: 160 games in 10 seasons (1957-66), 102-56-2 (.644), 5 first place finishes (1958-62), best: 14-2 (1960), worst: 1-14-1 (1964)

- Playoffs: 31 games in 8 appearances (1957-62, 65, 66), 20-10-1 (.662), 6 Grey Cup appearances (1957-59, 61, 62, 65), 4 Grey Cups (1958, 59, 61, 62)

- 1965 Coach of the Year, CFL Hall of Fame

 

Cal Murphy

- Regular Season: 138 games in 8 seasons (1983-86, 1993-96), 86-51-1 (.632), 2 first place finishes (1993, 94), best: 14-4 (1993), worst: 7-11 (1995)

- Playoffs: 14 games in 8 appearances (1983-86, 93-96), 7-7 (.500), 2 Grey Cup appearances (1984, 93), 1 Grey Cup (1984)

- 2 time Coach of the Year (1983, 84), CFL Hall of Fame

  

Mike Riley

- Regular Season: 72 games in 4 seasons (1987-90), 40-32 (.556), 2 first place finishes (1987, 90), best: 12-6 (1987, 90), worst: 7-11 (1989)

- Playoffs: 8 games in 4 appearances (1987-90), 6-2 (.750), 2 Grey Cup appearances (1988, 90), 2 Grey Cups (1988, 90)

- 2 time Coach of the Year (1988, 90)

 

 Dave Ritchie

- Regular Season: 97 games in 6 seasons (1999-2004), 52-44-1 (.541), 1 first place finish (2001), best: 14-4 (2001), worst: 6-12 (1999)

- Playoffs: 7 games in 4 appearances (2000-03), 3-4 (.429), 2001 Grey Cup appearance

- 2001 Coach of the Year

 

 Reg Threlfall

- Regular Season: 36 games in 4 seasons (1938-41), 28-8 (.778), 3 first place finishes (1939-41), best: 10-2 (1939), worst: 6-2 (1938, 40, 41)

- Playoffs: 13 games in 4 appearances (1938-41), 10-3 (.769), 3 Grey Cup appearances (1938, 39, 41), 2 Grey Cups (1939, 41)

NOTE: Winnipeg was 2-0 in 1940 playoffs, but was denied the opportunity to play in the Grey Cup because of a rules dispute between their Western football league and the Ontario Rugby Union

 

 

GENERAL MANAGERS

  

Jim Ausley

- Regular Season: 112 games in 7 seasons (1958-64), 71-40-1 (.638), 5 first place finishes (1958-62), best: 14-2 (1960), worst: 1-14-1 (1964)

- Playoffs: 17 games in 5 appearances (1958-62), 13-4 (.765), 4 Grey Cup appearances (1958, 59, 61, 62), 4 Grey Cups (1958, 59, 61, 62)

- 6 Hall of Fame players, 44 divisional all stars (6.3/yr), 5 CFL all stars (1.7/yr)*, 2 CFL award winners 

*CFL all stars first awarded in 1962

 

Earl Lunsford

- Regular Season: 240 games in 15 seasons (1968-82), 108-127-5 (.460), 1 first place finish (1972), best: 11-5 (1981, 82), worst: 2-14 (1970)

- Playoffs: 11 games in 9 appearances (1971, 72, 75-78, 80-82), 2-9 (.182), 0 Grey Cup appearances

- 12 Hall of Fame players, 76 divisional all stars (5.1/yr), 41 CFL all stars (2.7/yr), 8 CFL award winners 

CFL Hall of Fame (Player)

 

Cal Murphy

- Regular Season: 180 games in 10 seasons (1987-96), 103-77 (.572), 5 first place finishes (1987, 90, 92, 93, 94), best: 14-4 (1993), worst: 7-11 (1989, 95)

- Playoffs: 18 games in 10 appearances (1987-96), 10-8 (.556), 4 Grey Cup appearances (1988, 90, 92, 93), 2 Grey Cups (1988, 90)

- 13 Hall of Fame players, 77 divisional all stars (7.7/yr), 39 CFL all stars (3.9/yr), 7 CFL award winners 

CFL Hall of Fame (Builder)

 

Paul Robson

- Regular Season: 64 games in 4 seasons (1983-86), 43-22-1 (.680), 0 first place finishes, best: 12-4 (1985), worst: 9-7 (1983)

- Playoffs: 7 games in 4 appearances (1983-86), 4-3 (.571), 1 Grey Cup appearance (1984), 1 Grey Cup (1984)

- 10 Hall of Fame players, 37 divisional all stars (9.3/yr), 27 CFL all stars (6.8/yr), 7 CFL award winners 

 

Joe Ryan

- Regular Season: 36 games in 11 seasons (1931-41), 48-19-2 (.710), 7 first place finishes (1933-36, 39-41), best: 10-2 (1939), worst: 1-3 (1931)

- Playoffs: 25 games in 9 appearances (1933-41), 17-8 (.680), 5 Grey Cup appearances (1935, 37, 38, 39, 41), 3 Grey Cups (1935, 39, 41)

- 8 Hall of Fame players

CFL Hall of Fame (Builder)

Edited by TrueBlue4ever

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Bud Grant became head coach of the Bombers in 1957 (not 1958). He took us to the Grey Cup in his rookie year but we lost. I still remember asking "Mommy, why did Gerry James fumble again?", to which I was told "He's playing with a broken bone in his hand. It's not his fault dear."

As GM I'm going to go with Joe Ryan. Not only was he with the Winnipeg Rugby Football Club from the beginning but, as Vince Leah put it:

Quote

The Western Conference was Ryan's idea.

...

Before his death in April, 1979 he could look back with satisfaction at professional football's big league prestige in Canada. It was Joe who scoured the farmlands of North Dakota and Minnesota, building the West's first truly great team, the 1935 Grey Cup champions.

A History of the Blue Bombers p8 and p10.

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7 hours ago, Fred C Dobbs said:

Bud Grant became head coach of the Bombers in 1957 (not 1958). He took us to the Grey Cup in his rookie year but we lost. 

WHAT????? You mean Wikipedia lied to me?  I should have know there were problems when they did not have Paul Robson listed amongst the GM’s (at least I now have a Wikipedia edit to my name). 

Thanks for checking my work, I have corrected Grant’s bio. 

Edited by TrueBlue4ever

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One man's take:

COACH -

Dave Ritchie - Pulled this team from the abyss and helmed one of the great all-time seasons in 2001 that should have resulted in a Grey Cup win. Loyal to his players to a fault, which allegedly led to a split in the locker room between various factions at the end of his tenure, and he always regrets talking his foot off the gas in '01 to rest players (although that bit him in '02 losing Stegall to injury in game 18). He will be #5 in this group.

Mike Riley - Younger than more than a few of his veteran squad when he was hired, and many believed it was actually Cal Murphy pulling the strings from behind the curtain as "silent coach", but no one was more adored by his players, or the fan base for that matter. He pre-emptive departure after the '88 season was heartbreaking for many Bomber fans, and his return was feted, especially after the 1990 Grey Cup triumph. The exception to the rule that nice guys finish last. In this case, he is #4, but I like the idea of him being the defensive coordinator of the coaching staff.

Reg Threllfall - When your worst season is a .750 winning percentage, you are in rarified air. And it took a wonky rules debate to keep the Bombers out of the 1940 Grey Cup (different league rules between the Western Football Conference and the Ontario Rugby League and the league decided to ban the Bombers from playing in the title game because of it, in spite of the fact that they were allowed to be there the previous two years and the year following), so only a technicality keeps him from getting his team to 4 consecutive Grey Cups (and possibly winning 3 in a row). Give him a longer tenure than 4 years, and his numbers would top Grant or Murphy, and I'd wager he wins this poll. 

OK, only 2 coaches have statues outside of IGF, so really this has always been a 2 man contest. Cal Murphy deserves a lot of love for many reasons. Native Winnipegger in a league where Canadian head coaches were rare, he knew how to extract the very best from all his players. It was his nuance of the game that stood out. Bob Cameron said he had more of a feel for in game management than any other coach he had seen. Murphy always knew there exact time to call a certain play, especially the surprise gadget ones. Not always loved by his players, but boy did they show up for him. Case in point the mutiny in 1991 when the players whined about the shoddy conditions at CanadInns and how Murphy ran the place like a dictator, cheaping out on stuff and stonewalling on contract negotiations (he was GM and not coach at the time, but ran the show). And yet the next game after this very public internal feud was a 68-14 thrashing of Hamilton at home in the largest Bomber victory of all time. And in the one thing I can put him ahead of Grant for, he never missed the playoffs during his run here. Too many stories to recount, but a few highlights:

Chris Walby seeing the pouring rain at training camp one day and figuring it meant indoor film study, Murphy walks in and yells "on the field in 5", and then stands in a golf shirt getting soaked for a 2 a day while miserable players hit each other. Walby said it proved Murphy would accept no excuses, would put himself in the same conditions as the players, and take no shortcuts. It steeled the team for the cold November games when other teams mentally checked out, and the Bombers knew they had the game won before the first snap.

The trick plays - Murphy liked running trick plays, but said he liked running them a second time in the same game. He figured that a team wasn't expecting it the first time, but wouldn't dream of the play being run again, so were caught even more off guard. One game he had Shannon Baker back fielding punts with Allan Boyko. Being much slower, Boyko got kicked to by the punter. He fielded the kick and ran left to right, with Baker cutting behind him going the other way, when Boyko flipped it back to Baker for about a 50 yard gain on the reverse, fooling the cover team. Next punt they both converge on the ball, with Boyko again catching it, then handing it off to Baker as they ran in opposite directions, again crossing up the punt cover team for a big gain. This happened a third, fourth, fifth time, etc. and by now everyone in the stadium is waiting for Boyko to catch the punt and just hand it to Baker, as he has done all game. They are literally standing side by side when every punt is fielded. Finally the eighth punt comes down and Boyko again catches it and hands it to Baker, and the whole cover team is aiming for Baker, except Boyko pulls it back and takes off himself with the ball with everyone keyed on Baker, and he scampers for about 30 yards before being tracked down. Cal Murphy completely schooled the other team that day with his trickery. 

Bud Grant is a legend in 2 football leagues, and transformed the Bombers into the first Western dynasty in the CFL. Holds all the Bomber coaching records, and is the greatest of all time.

So Grant will and should win this, and you can see I have a soft spot for Murphy, but I can cheat and vote him in a GM, where he had just as much influence on his teams, and was the key fighter against the American expansion and keeping the Canadian ratio rules, which kept the league from killing itself in the mid-90's. So it can be a win-win.

GM

Have already sung my praises for Murphy, so won't re-hash it here.

It astounds me that Lunsford lasted as long as he did. I guarantee that if he existed in the fishbowl existence we have now with social media, he would have been fired 2 or 3 times over if the MBB fans had their say. His first 3 seasons, the Bombers went 8-39-1, and that wasn't enough to gas him. After finishing first in the West in 1972, the Bombers gave away the West Final at home to Sask. after a no yards penalty on a missed field goal gave the Riders a second chance to win it, and then the team went 4-11-1 the following year and missed the playoffs that season and the next - still not enough to fire him. Still employed despite a 4-12 season in 1979, and he was 0 for his first 6 playoff games. It took 3 more years of frustration to finally pull the plug.

Paul Robson was brilliant and just meshed perfectly with Murphy, and found an astounding amount of talent (credit scout Paul Jones - who would lated build the indianapolis Colts into a Super Bowl champion, for a lot of it too), but wasn't around long enough to finish on top.

And others have more eloquently spoken about Ausley and Ryan. Completely agree with those takes.

So in the end, it is going to be Grant and Murphy if voting stays as it currently stands (and it will), and both deserve to be there. But I want to give some love to the old guard, so I'm going cast my votes to Ryan as GM for creating the team and the Western league, and Threlfall as coach for basically having a perfect track record (League interference notwithstanding) during his tenure, knowing full well neither will win out. But thrilled to see grant and Murphy take this one.

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On 2019-01-27 at 4:54 PM, TrueBlue4ever said:

One man's take:

COACH -

Reg Threllfall - When your worst season is a .750 winning percentage, you are in rarified air. And it took a wonky rules debate to keep the Bombers out of the 1940 Grey Cup (different league rules between the Western Football Conference and the Ontario Rugby League and the league decided to ban the Bombers from playing in the title game because of it, in spite of the fact that they were allowed to be there the previous two years and the year following), so only a technicality keeps him from getting his team to 4 consecutive Grey Cups (and possibly winning 3 in a row). Give him a longer tenure than 4 years, and his numbers would top Grant or Murphy, and I'd wager he wins this poll.

Reg Threlfall was also Coach of the 1942 & 1943 Winnipeg RCAF Bombers who lost in the Grey Cup each year. The 1942 & 1943 RCAF Bombers teams are part of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers history. The Blue Bombers suspended operations on August 24, 1944 when the team learned that RCAF members were no longer permitted to play on a civilian team.

Note: In 1942, Threlfall was Manager of the Winnipeg City League. He would visit the practices of all 3 teams (Bombers - civilians; RCAF Flyers - servicemen; Manitoba Bisons - students & civilians). Threlfall was Coach of the Winnipeg RCAF Bombers (combined team) who played in the west final and Grey Cup.

Threlfall once claimed that the 1940 Winnipeg Blue Bombers was the best team he ever coached.

The rules dispute in play in 1940 was regarding blocking down field. The WCRFU (which included the WIFU) had liberal blocking rules which permitted linemen to block downfield and backfielders to block up to the line of scrimage. The CRU (governing body of football in Canada which regulated the eastern playoffs and Grey Cup) only allowed linemen to block on the line and backfielders could only block in the backfield.

The CRU made it known prior to the 1939 Grey Cup that unified rules would have to be in place prior to the 1940 Grey Cup if the WCRFU wanted to enter a team. Negotiations continued up to November 1940 without success. As the CRU kept a date open for an East-West Grey Cup game, it was determined that the Grey Cup in 1940 would instead be a 2 game total points series.

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