As I’m writing this, the BC Lions are getting their helmets kicked in the Eastern Division Semi-Final…not the way you want to end a season. Certainly not the way you want a career to end to, especially when you’re the most iconic coach in the CFL.
Wally Buono deserved a better final game.
When he came to the BC Lions in 2003, they were still a pretty competitive team but got blown out in the Semi Final ( sounds familiar ). Changes needed to be made, but things were made a little easier courtesy of the Calgary Stampeders, who became the dominant team in the West under Buono up until that time.
However, it seems ownership felt it knew more about running a team than Wally, including the owner insisting his son gets to play quarterback. Even with 2 years left on his contract, Wally left Calgary. It was too good to be true for Lions owner David Braley and team president Bob Ackles. Both were pretty smart guys anyway, but this was a no-brainer. Wally Buono became head coach and GM of the BC Lions in 2003.
It resulted in four straight first place finishes, five straight playoff appearances, four trips to the Grey Cup, winning three of them.
He brought back an expectation of winning, He made a city, a province and the fans proud of their team. His last few seasons have not been the best and you can criticize some of the decisions he’s made. After giving up coaching in 2011 to concentrate on being a GM, it was hard for him to watch his team under perform, so he’s was back on the sidelines in 2016. Some may think of him as a control freak who was past his prime, but there’s no denying what he brought to this team. At that point in time, there was no other choice.
I was also fortunate enough to meet him on several occasions, watch him from the sidelines. Also had a great conversation with him one afternoon at Seahawks game in Seattle. It’s easy to say he was always great to be with on those occasions because I was never a player, let alone play for him! But like him or not, he deserves a tremendous amount of respect from anyone who loves football…and he certainly deserved a better final game than he got.
So, it’s all you can say now…. Thank you Wally.