Lack of discipline cost Gregory job

ON THE CFL

August 21, 1994|By KEN MURRAY

When the Hamilton Tiger-Cats fired coach John Gregory two days after a 30-15 loss in Baltimore, the fault line ran along two key tracks: his record and the lack of discipline on his team.

Since he was hired in mid-1991, Gregory's record with the Tiger-Cats was 21-32. He had just one winning season -- in 1992, when he had quarterback Damon Allen and then traded him. He won just seven of his last 24 games.

What had become evident to insiders, and what became evident afterward to outsiders, was that Gregory also had a growing discipline problem. The last straw might not have been the loss to the CFLs, but the arrest of four players in a barroom brawl in Hamilton.

One of the first moves new coach Don Sutherin made was to appoint a four-man player rep committee to come up with a set of rules and fines. In what may be an unprecedented action, Sutherin invited the players to make the rules. They came up with standard fare, although some rules violations were accompanied by stiff fines.

An unexcused missed flight, for instance, will cost $285 plus airfare. Inappropriate travel attire will cost $190. And having a female visitor in a hotel room will draw a $500 penalty.

"These are the rules we want," said offensive lineman Dale Sanderson, a member of the committee.

Sutherin shortened practice time, reduced the amount of

contact, and put more motion into a stagnant offense. The team's former defensive coordinator also set a tone when he said, "Some guys want to play in the NFL . . . I will accommodate them."

"Don't call us . . ."

Contrary to the party line in the CFL, CBS is not actively engaged -- and only minimally interested -- in the CFL's expansion dance. One more time last week, Susan Kerr, director of sports communications for CBS, denied that there are any ongoing negotiations with the CFL.

"They have come to us and approached us," Kerr said. "We met because they asked us to have a conversation with them. We said we'd do that. We were listening to what their product is, what their presentation is. That's the extent of it."

Team officials with the CFLs privately have been saying that representatives of CBS were at Memorial Stadium for the July 23 game with Shreveport. Kerr said she knows of no such visit.

Kerr has heard the CFL speculation often of late. Doing her best to squash persistent reports that a CBS contract was on the horizon, she said: "It's a league that's been created with very little star quality. It's in relatively small markets. All I can say is, right now it would be misleading to say anything other than we've been approached by them."

Most knowledgeable observers say it would take the major markets to interest CBS. And the CFL can't win any of those major-market battles. As it is, interest is ebbing even in those small markets. Average league attendance, Baltimore notwithstanding, was 20,204 through the first six weeks of the season.

Playing hurt

Saskatchewan Roughriders coach Ray Jauch proved to be a trouper when he suffered torn knee ligaments in a freak sideline accident in Week 6 -- and continued to coach. The injury occurred on a Roughriders punt return in a 20-7 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos.

Saskatchewan's Dallas Rysavy blocked Edmonton's Michael Soles into Jauch's left leg on the play. Jauch crumpled, was helped to the bench, then returned to the sideline, where he leaned on one of his players or a crutch the rest of the game.

Jauch, whose playing career in the CFL ended with a torn Achilles' tendon, said he won't have surgery on the knee but will let it heal on its own. He plans to finish the year on crutches.

Crunch time

When Winnipeg quarterback Matt Dunigan suffered a second-degree sprain of his right medial collateral ligament last week in a 46-1 blowout of Ottawa, it left the Blue Bombers' offense in the hands of veteran backup Sammy Garza.

Garza threw for 276 yards and two touchdown in the second half of the game, but the loss of Dunigan seemingly gives Baltimore the inside track in the Eastern Division title race.

Dunigan will be immobilized for four weeks, then undergo two weeks of rehabilitation. During that six-week window of opportunity for the CFLs, the Blue Bombers and Garza will play Saskatchewan twice, Sacramento, Hamilton, British Columbia and Shreveport. The CFLs, meanwhile, play Hamilton, Shreveport, Sacramento, Saskatchewan and Ottawa (twice).

Easy come, easy go

How bad have things gotten in Shreveport? Here's this week's mutinous story:

The Pirates, in desperate need of a quarterback, signed former NFLer Tony Sacca on Tuesday. Incredibly, when he went to draw his equipment, he became upset over the shoulder pads. He stalked off, not to be heard from again.

At least they won

When the Las Vegas Posse returned to its locker room at Shreveport's Independence Stadium after a 49-13 rout of the Pirates in Week 6, players discovered that someone had robbed them of $8,000 in cash, credit cards and jewelry.

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