In predictable fashion as predicted by a few Lionbacker posters, the GM and HC Wally Buono is in the Vanouver Sun today calling out his kick return guy, Aaron Lockett. In what is getting to be a tired and worn out way of endearing fans to the CFL and the Lions, Buono is promising fans a new face somehow and seeing the back end of Aaron Lockett heading out of town.
What the football types who too much run the CFL -like Wally Buono -will NEVER understand in their life-times is the value of more positive statements on their players and a lot more continuity in personnel so that fans have a better and closer identification than they have had in recent years. I recall former CFL star Paul Bennett's father who had been a life long seasons ticket holder in Toronto even as his son played elsewhere saying he no longer had a feel for the Argos as the players changed too much.
For as good as Wally Buono has been in assembling a coaching staff and team he is a complete door knob when it comes to understanding marketing and the importance of getting his team known in the community.
Fans after a game like the other night do the predictable as some of them mirror the actions of the GM and HC simply by knowing how he operates and they rush to the boards and talk shows to post the demise of a player who I think has done a pretty good job for BC and who to me looks like a good team person and able returner. Putting aside the one player for a minute look at the stadium they play in. Hello Wally - you aren't filling the park dummy so it'd be good to say some nicer things that market your product and your team.
There really needs to be a separation of GM and HC for no other reason than you have to get a face the sports community can identify with and have that person put the proper face on the team and the quality of the product and the entertainment value of buying a ticket.
The Wally Buonos of the world are football guys first and last. They would play in BC Place Stadium and enjoy the games if winning if under 20,000 fans turned up game after game. Oh right , that is what did happen and now the CFL is resurging but you are not in BC back to where it was in the 1980s! It's not what these football types see themselves doing - filling the seats. Leave fans and marketing to Community Relations or whatever it is called but to them it is just make sure that marketing is as separate from the team as it can be and where filling the building etc is not linked to the GM's office where it would be in the Van Canucks organization.
Aaron Lockett can no doubt be replaced by a guy who can do as much or more than he can. That is possibly only an issue to the player and his family/friends and certainly resends the Wally message to the team that his job is to find a guy better than you are. What a motivator to match his marketing guru title. Too bad there is not a kick returner in the league burning up the yards.
Right now, the BC Lions are humming and if you go back to the heady days of Mervyn Fernandez and Roy DeWalt and HC Don Matthews you will recall that that stadium was full. My season tickets were in S. 13 Upper Deck!!!! Now you can get a ticket anywhere virtually on any given night down below.
Maybe Mr. Braley should have his GM take some marketing trainingin the off season from either NHL GMs or those in the NFL and find out how they talk in public. In fact it is not odd to hear Doug McLean GM of Columbus or other GMs on Vancouver radio as I did last week. It is marketing as taught no doubt in high school. Too bad the Wally wagon is a little short of marketing and BC Place Stadium in fans in the seats.
Football fanatics will no doubt rush to the Wally wagon's circling defence but the problem with that is you are the football fanatics and come hell or high water you will be one of the 17,000- 20,000 fans at a game during the lean years as I was. What I am talking about is fans like me who ask their friends if they'd like to go a game with me and I have a free ticket, free parking etc. They say no and I get back half the time what the GM/HC is saying about how lousy AW is or some other drum that Wally has been beating. These are the types who catch the sports talk shows and can't wait to say to me "what about them Canucks??" and I nicely note that hey, the season hasn't started yet or during the lockout year - they're on stike...yet they dominate the positive news stories.
Yes, I am calling out the GM for his failure to market the product which is what GMs do. If he can't do it, give him the football side and get an overriding GM title to someone inside the organization who can get the right story out and fill the stadium like in the DeWalt era. The coach then had lousy media skills - Don Matthews - but he said the right things about how they were going to play and his calling out players was not in the media fuelling the fans to find fault constantly with the team and thus staying home or watching NFL football.
How will the CFL ever market itself and how will BC ever fill the stadium when you have the GM and coach most weeks calling out one player or another and leading fans to conclude what the sports talk shows keep saying in this town that the league and entertainment value is less than the NFL. Maybe it's time for the owner of the BC Lions to remind his GM of the marketing side of the job and give him some advice on how to get more fans out.
It's the difference between preaching to the loyal fan who is in the seats over speaking to those not yet converted who can reduce the sea of empty blue seats. It is the difference in this case of seeing the stadium half empty not half full. Just like a GM and owner would or should see it. The marketing problem is filling those seats with revenue providing customers versus the football problem of motivating your players by threats and calling out individuals in the media.
To the hard core follower of Wally he can do no wrong and no doubt walk on water but he has trouble with the multiplying of the believers part of the job.
Not to be religious or disrespectful but if Wally Buono were Jesus of Galilee with his management style he would have told his 12 disciples to go forth and always remember- 'My job is to find someone better than you'.
Well, at least that would have taken care of his problem with Judas but done little to multiply the number of believers.