Heart and Soul

Dave Dickenson is the undisputed leader of the Leos offence. Barrin Simpson and Barrin Miles lead the defence.

The heart and soul of the Leos offence is Antonio Warren, whose value is really starting to be recognized. Brent Johnson is the heart and soul of the Leos defence.

Team spirit is best exemplified by Carl Kidd and Curtis Floyd. The concept of team first is best exemplified by Geroy Simon.

There are many reasons the Leos are undefeated at this stage of the season. Two key factors are depth and competition. Competiton brings out the best in players. Depth is everywhere....on the offensive line (Rasouli) at the reciever position (Jackson, Anderson) at the key position of quarterback which has brought out the best in Dickenson this year and Printers last year) on the defensive line (Mckay) at linebacker (Armour) and defensive backfield (Tiller) to just name a few. This kind of depth is impressive with the limited rosters in the Canadian football league.

Our depth in Canadians is also a key reason and will even get better next year with three first round draft choices.

Above all, the Leos of 2005 are disiplined, and well coached. That to me is as important as the talent they enjoy.....Hopfully this year, it will continue that way

Blitz, your observations and comments are hard to dispute. You seem to have this team well evaluated. (Not just this post, but others as well!)

Are you Wally Buono?

You ar right sportsmen your team is only as good as your Canadians and it helps to have a great QB.

Blitz has excellent insights both from a knowledge and attitudinal perspective.

Attitude is like the rudder of the ship. It won't in and of itself take you very far by itself but if it isn't right it can sure steer a team or person off course. It isn't the engine for motivation to perform but steers an individual or team in a certain direction. You want that attitude on a team to be in the right direction and focused on what is needed to be successful as a team.

The best team members in sport or business are those who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Team sports allow that if they are properly coached and you have a good group to work with. That is why so many of us who have played team sports moved onto coaching teams. Individual sports have never been of interest to me for that very reason. Being a part of a team where each individual has a role to play that differs from the next guy but is just as important in its execution is what is at the heart of team sports.

The disconnect for athletes comes in a couple of situations:

  1. you do your best but your team sucks or underperforms and it is visible that it is this way as guys aren't doing their jobs rather than the other teams are just more talented.
  2. the coach doesn't think you deserve to be a starter and your sense is that this is wrong. Thus, the dilemma for an athlete. Those who survive this situation best are guys with less ego in the situation. They accept the coach's decision while not agreeing with it but for the greater good of the team they keep their views private and their attitude positive.

The attitude of this Lion's team seems competitive, focused and together with few personal agendas out in the open producing conflict or negativity in any way. Even the QB situation seems to be not an issue for the team and in fact seems to give this team a lot of confidence in themselves.

I don't know the personnel like Blitz but the offence to me seems to accept either Dave or Casey as a leader and the guy pulling the trigger; and from the exhibition games and last year, they accept the third guy out there which is not the same everywhere.

I have a slightly different take on this offensive unit and leadership. This to me from outside the fence at some sessions looks like it is mature and possesses more than a single leader. To me what they have accomplished with the offence is a team with a number of identifiable and accepted leaders - some by what they say and do, others by what they do. I'd include the QBs - regardless of which one is on the field, Geroy Simon who leads by his play and his choice of words and turn of phrase, Antonio Warren by his play, Jason Clermont - by his fierce competitive play and toughness - not sure of his spoken leadership but it would not surprise me if he is recognized as a leader there and there must be a solid team leader on that O line - Angus Reid, Mantyka - I am not sure but that group acts and looks like a cohesive group that is part of the team.

Your assessment of the D is spot on.

Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

Sportsmen....I only have a few drops of Italian blood in me and its from a lot of generations ago. I actually live on Vancouver Island now and I have a friend pick me up on the Vancouver side to attend games. Buono does impress me though...I was never a big fan of his when he coached Calgary but was glad to get him to Vancouver. He's not a tremendous X and O's guy but he knows the game, recognizes talent and utilizes it very well, knows the right distance to keep with players (he's the coach...period) and really is outstanding at creating a team concept. He knows what he wants, is not afraid to cut a veteran when he's lost a step, is very honest and straight forward with players and doesn't bullshit...which players really appreciate. I don't have the same connections with Leos staff as I did in the old days but still have a good friendship there.

I really appreciate reading Football 16's insights and also that he is able to attend Leos practices.....something that is invaluable at times on this website because he picks things up that the press don't report. I really liked your line Football 16 that Geroy leads with "his play, his choice of words and turn of phrase" Win or lose at the end of this year this is a true team and one that we should be proud of...because individual success is less important to them than team success...amd they mean it and demonstrate it.

I was fortunate, a number of years ago to meet John Robinson at a Coach of the Year Clinic in the U.S. We spent some time together at the clinic and he invited me to stay at his house for a week during U.S.C spring camp. Robinson was coaching at the college level at that time. I learned a lot from him but perhaps the most important thing I came away with was how difficult and important it is to create a sense of team. Robinson could always recruit top athletes to U.S.C. However he said his biggest challenge was not teaching them the "I' formation but to get them to really want to play and sacrifice for each other and that it was sometimes challenging to get players who had been very successful before coming to U.S.C. and highly recruited to do that. The Leos have a lot of leaders but more importantly they really seem to want to play for each other and like to share the credit!!

Above all, the Leos of 2005 are disiplined, and well coached. That to me is as important as the talent they enjoy.....Hopfully this year, it will continue that way
Couldn't agree more Gabby 3...coaching is probably more important in football than any team sport because of the strategy and the fact that football doesn't have the continuous flow of sports like hockey and basketball, providing increased opportunities for coaches to exert their influence on the game. Discipline is also really important...an example of the Leos discipline is the low number of penalties the team takes.....I can remember a lot of years when we led the league in having flags dropped against us.
You ar right sportsmen your team is only as good as your Canadians and it helps to have a great QB.
Having great Canadians has always been the recipe to success in the CFL...its why Edmonton had always won so many Cups and Calgary was the class of the league for so many years. Hard to believe that we have three first round draft choices next year Red and White....a kicker, an offensive lineman...another Canadian receiver....it will be interesting to see what we have the opportunity to get next year!!

You are right about Wally Buono being good at bringing talent together and building an effective team of coaches and players and support staff (most of them were likely the old gang who have been here forever it seems and who are reputed to be the best in the CFL or pro sport). The key to success as a coach is what you say you learned from John Robinson and I am sure that is what Buono is doing consciously or unconsciously based on his experience and knowledge.

To be on a great team is to be on a team of guys who are committed to being a part of something bigger than themselves. Coaching is getting the right people together with the talent and character who are both willing and able to commit to being part of something bigger than themselves - a successful team. You may be the most talented person but if you are unwilling to commit to a team philosophy like say in some games getting less of the ball than you feel you want/deserve then that is one part of a team that is ineffective. Ability is key as hard work and dedication will overcome talent to a limited extent.

I will always take a lesser guy talent-wise who can commit to our team fully over a guy with more talent who is known as a malcontent or gypsy (moves yearly). They will always screw you in the clutch.

What a coach has to look for in a player is not so much how the guy will react in the good times when you are rolling over opponents. It is what he will do when things aren't going your way. That 5, 10, or 15 minutes in a game when the opponent comes on strong as they always do. It is not so much preventing that from happening, it is how the players and the team react to that. If it is by finger pointing and blaming and complaining then it is more about "Me" than "We". That is an anathema to a team.

Phil Jackson put it well when he said a coach he worked with told him your team's best player is the best not for what he does but for what he gets out of those around him. This he tried to impart to Michael Jordan with his view that in the 4thQ when he is being defended so well in a tight game he can't score or shoot, it is what he can do to bring the best out of the guys around him.

To me that is the essence of being a great QB in football. It is not so much what you do yourself, it is what you can get from your team mates in the way of superior performances - blocks, pass routes, staying live on all plays, catches, runs, etc. It is the essence of being a good coach. The coach creates an environment or climate where his team can excel. He is good for what he gets out of people in their performances. It is not just the x's and o's or defensive schemes, it is how the players perform together that makes a winning team. To me the best coaches get the best out of their athletes and create conditions in which even people of average abilities can excel.

The challenge for a college coach like say at USC is subverting egos of guys who could go high in the pro draft. Yes, that could be the biggest challenge of all.

That is the same in business or organizations where some managers are good at getting talent and developing them. Others not so much as they fail to see the team sports analogy in business and how to create a team where all have success both as a group and individually. Yes, there were too many sports metaphors used in business but the backlash vs that went too far. People join sports teams outside business where they can prove their skills as in some organizations where there is so much dysfunctional behaviour, one division's managers can actually be rewarded for screwing the other division.

Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

I will always take a lesser guy talent-wise who can commit to our team fully over a guy with more talent who is known as a malcontent or gypsy (moves yearly). They will always screw you in the clutch.
I really thought a lot about this statement Football 16 ...and read your article with great interest...especially because you look at the game through the eyes of a coach.

I'll make two points in reference to your comment.

  1. Sometimes, as fans, we often cheer for the underdog vs. the guy with the talent. We cheer for the smaller player or the quarterback who is short or a little slow but overcomes his physical limitations to play smart, the reciever who can't get a lot of separation but makes the tough catch with two guys hanging all over him. If the talented player has the right attitude to learn I'll take the talented player who needs polish over the polished player who is limited talent wise. Even coaches will sometimes make this mistake, allowing sentiment to override a wise decision.

  2. I'll always take the less talented player with a great attitude over the talented player who doesn't think he can learn from anyone and is a malcontent. I learned, through my mistakes in my early days of coaching, that they often let you down in the 'clutch' as you very aptly stated. They also hurt the team because their attitudes often have a negative impact on others.

Some examples of this include Terrell Owens, in the NFL....a player I would never have gone near even though he is terrrifically talented. His talent is just not worth it to any team. A B.C. Lion of the past who falls into that category was a Canadian slotback who wore a black face shield and thought he was much better than he was, criticzed the Leos coaching staff, and when he left the Leos his career ended quite quickly in Calgary. Wanna guess who I'm talking about??/. Hint....he had a terriic career as a reciever in Canadian college!!

You are right that I look at the game from the perspective of a coach and watch coaches and the game as much as anything else. I try and put myself in their position and guess the call in key situations to see how it compares to them or how it differs from me based on philosophy. Not to criticize them or second guess but to understand the rationale.

I watch to see what head guys are ducking for cover when it comes to the tough call in a game. How they react to situations like undisciplined play and errors, etc. At the pro level they mask so much as they know the camera is on them so it is harder to read coaches but it is interesting anyway right up to and including how they interact with the team during warmup.

To get success as a coach, you learn from prior role models - your coaches and you learn from experience as it can be the unkindest teacher of all if you don’t prepare.

I became what I will say a good coach getting good results from teams AFTER I made the mental transition from the ‘coach/frustrated player who could do myself what I wanted from the athletes’ to a coach with clear objectives and realizing that your management skills as a coach are equal requirements to your philosophy of play and knowledge of the game.

Management is the accomplishment of the organizations goals from the efforts of others and nothing more or less. This definition applies to coaches who will never toss a pass, make a run or a tackle or a kick.

The best coaches to me are “players’ coaches” who support their teams and their guys if all are making the effort and doing their jobs.

To me the best coaches have what you alluded to with Buono and that is the performance oriented environment where every day you do your job. Yes, there can be slip ups like the FG kicker, but all know that if you dont bring your top game to practice and games you’ll be toast even if you are a popular veteran guy. But players don’t come to work fearing that their job might be lost as this is not a performance oriented environment, it is quite the opposite and one likely to be around failing teams and coaches.

If you watch animal trainers at work you can see this principle in action. They show the animals say dolphins that they mean them no harm before they try and teach them tricks. They get in the water with them and get the environment right. Same with a team and individuals.

Show me a guy in fear for his job and I will show you an unproductive guy who is doing no good for anyone. I was threatened to be fired by a new CEO when I was in the office on a Sunday working to midnight that day!!! We just had a huge loss so it was kind of bad. My response to the CEO was clear and effective. I don’t come to work every day fearful of losing my job. If you want to fire me. Go ahead. You’ll be doing me a favour as I have been here 15 years and you will have to buy me out! I got promoted out of that deal and a pay raise…lol. We are good friends today even and it became clear to the CEO that threatening me was not the right approach.

The other execs got the same threat at different times - one guy lost 30 lbs and didn’t sleep for 3 weeks when he got the threat. The CEO was hated by all but me after that. CEO asked me how I thought the new presidency was going so far. I reviewed the trauma each was going through as a result of the threat to be fired. CEO about the weight loss guy-" hey doesn’t he look great!" That CEO didn’t last too long and had few at the party.

A lot is said about how a coach must keep his distance from players and how a coach if he is too nice a guy he will fail. Neither of these statements are true in and of themselves. They are most likely just symptomatic of a failure to maintain a performance oriented environment with the players which is needed to win. Bill Parcells has been close friends with players including that with his FG kicker whose name fails to come to mind right now. He tells the story of the kicker making a critical FG and later he said to Coach Parcells “if I had missed would it have affected our friendship?” to which Parcells stated “No, not at all, but I sure would have missed you!” He got the point of performance across.

What the coach has to do is maintain a performance oriented environment that players can function in and win if they do their jobs well.

This is the same with guys who are too nice. It is like the manager dealing with an employee coming late to work every day where it is production line that is screwed up as a result. Does the manager spend his time finding out what why this is happening all the time or simply reinforce the need to be on time for work at all times? The latter is correct. If the boss fails to recognize his responsibility in the situation, he could become part of the problem and the whole place starts to fail. I used to teach this stuff.

Coaches must ask this question as do managers:
Are happy workers productive workers? or
Are productive workers happy workers?

The best coaches/managers believe the latter although intuitively you’d think the first but it is wrong. Research and experience shows that getting people productive vs happy is the best path to performance. That is why turnaround coaching situations are done with a new guy coming in and taking names and kicking butt where needed as they need to shift the players to being productive. Later they have to back off and change that approach or they will fail.


Buck Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it…

Yah, I know that guy you mean Blitz is in these lists somewhere but man I just can't put my finger on the guy!!

NATIONAL INDIVIDUAL FOOTBALL STATISTICS
October 16, 1995

Receiving by Receptions R YDS AVG LG TD

Don Blair, Calgary 56 1112 19.9 75 15
Andrew English, UBC 54 740 13.7 67 7
Francis Etienne, Toronto 50 860 17.2 60 9
Grant Davy, Acadia 45 737 16.4 67 2
Grayson Shillingford, UBC 44 734 16.7 55 7
David Stefnitz, Acadia 44 701 15.9 50 5
Dave Butler, Bishop's 43 555 12.9 39 4
Lee Barette, Acadia 41 766 18.7 65 9
Nigel McGilvery, Bishop's 38 787 20.7 106 4
Simon Beckow, UBC 38 463 12.2 72 3

Receiving by Yards R YDS AVG LG TD

Don Blair, Calgary 56 1112 19.9 75 15
Francis Etienne, Toronto 50 860 17.2 60 9
Nigel McGilvery, Bishop's 38 787 20.7 106 4
Lee Barette, Acadia 41 766 18.7 65 9
Andrew English, UBC 54 740 13.7 67 7
Grant Davy, Acadia 45 737 16.4 67 2
Grayson Shillingford, UBC 44 734 16.7 55 7
David Stefnitz, Acadia 44 701 15.9 50 5
Andre Bolduc, Concordia 35 635 18.1 41 7
Dave Butler, Bishop's 43 555 12.9 39 4

Punt Returns NO YDS AVG LG TD

Corey Grant, Laurier 49 616 12.6 79 1
Don Blair, Calgary 29 529 18.2 96 1
Dave Donaldson, Manitoba 34 450 13.2 64 2
Andre Batson, York 24 433 10.0 91 2
James MacPherson, Saint Ma 37 384 10.4 82 1
Wes Barbour, McGill 24 374 15.6 92 -
Craig Borgeson, McGill 43 356 8.3 47 -
Francis Etienne, Toronto 18 346 8.0 63 0
Paul Greenhow, Queen's 28 334 11.9 67 -
Adrian Thorne, Waterloo 39 283 7.3 44 0

Kick Off Returns NO YDS AVG LG TD

Simon Beckow, UBC 27 580 21.5 55 0
Andre Batson, York 22 464 21.1 55 1
Jason Hutchins, Alberta 25 440 17.6 39 0
Simon Baffoe, Alberta 17 410 24.1 60 0
Francis Etienne, Toronto 18 367 20.4 82 1
Wayne Wilson, Carleton 18 315 17.5 29 -
Kyle Walters, Guelph 11 302 27.5 96 1
Bob Rabichuk, Manitoba 17 299 17.6 38 0
Mike Mallot, Waterloo 10 291 29.1 74 0
Shane Thompson, Bishop's 13 261 20.1 46 -
Don Blair, Calgary 13 261 20.1 33 0

Highlights
NATIONAL SINGLE GAME HIGHLIGHTS

Receiving

Most Receptions (13)
Grant Davy (Acadia) vs Mt Allison Oct 14

Most Yards (300)
Grant Davy (Acadia) vs Mt Allison Oct 14

Longest Reception (106)
Nigel McGilvery (Bishop's) vs McGill Sept 9

Touchdowns (4)
Don Blair (Calgary) vs Manitoba Sept 30

Buck Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

Don Blair, Calgary 56 1112 19.9 75 15
The answer is.....great reseach Football 16...............Don Blair!!!!!!