Candid. Misunderstood. Over his head. Hilarious. Refreshing. An embarrassment. The single best thing to happen to football reporters since God invented the buffet and happy hour.
That’s just a sampling of the responses to one of the questions in the seventh annual Calgary Herald-Winnipeg Free Press CFL media poll.
The question put out to print and electronic media across the country?
Finish the following sentence: “Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike Kelly is . . .”
You get the idea.
No coach polarized reporters, fans and, yes, players more than Kelly after his, ahem, newsmaking rookie season as Bombers coach, in which he launched tirades at players and reporters in equal measure, and somehow pulled his team to within one win of a playoff spot after most had written the Bombers off by Labour Day.
However he continually bucked the trend of head coaches, offering only guarded statements to the media.
Asked, for instance, in the pre-season if there was one move he thought was paying off for the Bombers, he replied, “Yeah, hiring me.”
Then, there was his infamous comment about the shotgun offence, that it was for “flag football, and guys that haven’t coached quarterbacks very well.”
Keep in mind, both of these comments were intended to be humorous and not at all taken seriously, but it’s such a rarity to hear them coming out of the mouth of a head coach.
Which, uh, brings us to Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, who pulled off the repeat as the league’s least quotable coach despite making significant strides in this department.
Hufnagel is actually an engaging interview in one-on-one situations, with a great self-deprecating sense of humour. Scrums are not his strength, but most coaches are tight-lipped in scrums, so he’s not the exception. It’s quite likely he won this award on past reputation as opposed to his actual performance in interviews this year.
In fact, the Stamps swept the board in the least quotable department, as quiet receiver Romby Bryant was voted the most tight-lipped player. He’s co-operative in interviews; just not all that communicative.
Here, for your enjoyment, are the full poll results.
1. Mr. Over-rated: which CFL player gets way more hype/pub than deserved?Rob Murphy, Tor. — 13.3 per cent
Arland Bruce III, Ham.; Adriano Belli, Tor. — 8.8
Michael Bishop, Wpg.; Jesse Lumsden, Edm. — 6.7
Maurice Lloyd, Edm.; Brandon Browner, Cal.; Nik Lewis, Cal.; Ben Cahoon, Mtl.; Ricky Ray, Edm — 4.4
2. Mr. Under-rated: which CFL player deserves a little more publicity?Avon Cobourne, Mtl. — 11.1 per cent
Joffrey Reynolds, Cal.; Rob Bagg, Sask. — 8.8
Darian Durant, Sask. — 6.7
Dave Stala, Ham.; Markeith Knowlton, Ham.; Arkee Whitlock, Edm.; Jamel Richardson, Mtl., Fred Stamps, Edm. — 4.4
3. League’s biggest jerk
Mike Kelly, head coach, Wpg. — 56.1 per cent
Adriano Belli, Tor. — 7.3
Barrin Simpson, Wpg.; Nik Lewis, Cal. — 4.9
4. Nice Guy Award: Which CFL player would you love to sit down and have a pint with?Geroy Simon, B.C.; Brent Johnson, B.C.; Henry Burris, Cal. — 7 per cent
Marwan Hage, OL, Ham.; Doug Brown, Wpg.; Adriano Belli, Tor.; Anthony Calvillo, Mtl., Bryan Chiu, Mtl. — 4.7
5. Oops! Award: Worst personnel move by any CFL coach/GM this season.Bombers trading for/committing to Stefan LeFors — 29.8 per cent
Argos trading Arland Bruce III — 27.7
Bombers passing on Casey Printers; Bombers cutting Kevin Glenn — 8.5
Esks firing Rick Worman; Esks signing Lumsden; Bombers pursuit of PacMan Jones; Bombers hiring Mike Kelly — 4.3
6. Ready for prime time: Which CFL assistant is ready to be bumped up to head coach?
Greg Marshall, defensive co-ordinator, Ham. — 45.5 per cent
Mike Benevides, defensive co-ordinator, B.C. — 25
Chris Jones, defensive co-ordinator, Cal. — 11.4
Scott Milanovich, offensive co-ordinator, Mtl. — 9.1
Paul LaPolice, offensive co-ordinator, Sask. — 4.5
7. Say what?!: Worst quote, player.Romby Bryant, Cal. — 27.7 per cent
Ricky Ray, Edm. — 11.1
Michael Bishop, Wpg. — 8.3
Brandon Browner, Cal.; DeAndra’ Cobb, Ham.; James Patrick, Sask. — 5.6
8. Worst quote, GM/coachJohn Hufnagel, Cal. — 29.3 per cent
Ken Miller, Sask. — 21.9
Marc Trestman, Mtl. — 19.5
Bart Andrus, Tor. — 9.8
Mike Kelly, Wpg. — 7.3
9. Best quote, playerDoug Brown, Wpg. — 29.3 per cent
Henry Burris, Cal. — 11.6
Jeremaine Copeland, Cal. — 6.9
Anwar Stewart, Mtl.; Arland Bruce, Ham.; Nik Lewis, Cal; Avon Cobourne, Mtl.; Otis Floyd, Ham.; Mo Lloyd, Edm. — 4.7
10. Best quote, GM/coachMike Kelly, Wpg. — 65.9 per cent
Wally Buono, B.C. — 19.5
Marcel Bellefeuille, Ham. — 7.3
11. Next Stefan Logan/Cam Wake: name a player who may be the next to make it big in the NFL.
Martel Mallett, B.C. — 20 per cent
Justin Medlock, Tor., Emmanuel Arceneaux, B.C. — 12.5
Jovon Johnson, Wpg.; Calvin Armstrong, Edm.; John Chick, Sask.; Ricky Foley, B.C. — 5
12. Finish the following sentence: “Winnipeg Blue Bomber head coach Mike Kelly is . . .”
• Lost in the cloud of his over-inflated ego
• Lucky to be getting another year in Winnipeg
• An endless source of personal amusement
• Over his head
• genius in only his own mind.
• Different. And soon to be unemployed!!
• A smug disaster
• Is standing in the way of his own success. He’s his own worst enemy.
• Ferociously defensive regarding his players and wonderful to talk to.
• In desperate need of media training.
• Refreshing. I’d rather deal with him than a spouter of cliches.
• A live wire who needs a PR guy.
• An embarrassment to the CFL
• The single-best thing to happen to football reporters since God invented the buffet and happy hour.
• A mental midget
• A great guy if you’re visiting media.
• A narcissistic fool
• A breath of wind, oops, I mean air, a tireless self-promoter, always helpful to those fuzzy on the details of his powerful resume, a prolific sideline spitter, unshakably committed to the glory of Mike Kelly, yet curiously humble (You never see him wearing any of his Grey Cup rings, do you?).
• n desperate need of media-relations training
• Ruining the Bombers
• A different cat
• Still employed . . . for now
• Next coach to be paid not to coach
• Is like a box of chocolates
• Too worried about things he can’t control.
• A national treasure.
• A jerk.
• A great quote, because he doesn’t think before speaking. God love him!
• In need of some PR skills, but please, oh, please, don’t ever find a mute button.
• A work in regress.
• The most-entertaining personality in the league and I would love to have a beer with him.
• In dire need of a pause button, mirrors, manners and a one-way ticket.
• A man whose sense of humour is lost on many.
• The CFL’s Sarah Palin. He’s gone rogue.
• Good for media, bad for Bombers.
• A beat writers dream.
• In over his head.
13. Best CFL on-air personality, Radio or TVChris Cuthbert, TSN — 31.1 per cent
Bob Irving, CJOB-Winnipeg — 26.7
Duane Forde, Jock Climie, Chris Schultz, TSN — 6.7
Rod Pederson, CKRM-Regina, Glen Suitor, TSN — 4.4
14. You’re Jeff Hunt, co-owner of the pending Ottawa franchise; who is your first GM?
Brendan Taman, Sask. — 29.3 per cent
Eric Tillman, Sask. — 12.2
Wally Buono, B.C. — 9.8
Jim Barker, Cal. — 7.3
15. Your first move as the Toronto Argonauts president would be:Clean house — 31.7 per cent
Fire Adam Rita and Greg Mohns — 24.4
Fire Bart Andrus — 14.6
The Lightning Round
Mark Cohon’s rating as CFL commissioner to date, thumbs up or down:
Up — 95 per cent
Down — 5
Will the CFL see a work stoppage in 2010, yes or no?No — 95.5 per cent
Yes — 4.5
Best CFL road tripMontreal — 52.4 per cent
Vancouver — 33.3
Calgary, Toronto — 4.8
Worst CFL road trip
Hamilton — 60.9 per cent
Regina, Winnipeg — 14.6
Edmonton — 7.3
Name the CFL’s most-professional organization, top to bottomMontreal — 43.2 per cent
Calgary, Edmonton — 22.7
Saskatchewan — 6.8
Name the CFL’s least-professional organization, top to bottomToronto — 52.4 per cent
Winnipeg — 45.2
Should CFL teams be allowed to start fewer Canadians, yes or no?
No — 97.7 percent
Yes — 2.3
Officiating this year:
Improved — 18.2 per cent
Stayed the same — 54.5
Took a step backwards — 27.3
Do you scan your team’s fan chat-boards?Always — 22.2 per cent
Never — 33.3
Occasionally — 44.4