It’s always been fairly certain that when Wally Buono decides it is time to shake up the roster of his B.C. Lions he’ll revert to an aggravating, well-worn formula, and it was no different this week when it became apparent Andrew Harris is no longer in his plans.
As he did when Korey Banks, Otis Floyd, Aaron Hunt, Jason Clermont and a host of other fan and locker room favourites had to go, the man under the microscope had no compassion when it comes to his belief as to what requires change. As a result the Lions have a huge hole in their offence, prepared to move forward without a player who at times represented 30 per-cent of his team’s offensive output.
To some, the news came as something of a shock, though anyone really paying attention knew that Harris would become a free agent months ago based on comments by the player and general manager. Harris is not being offered another Lions contract. Neither is Khreem Smith nor Cord Parks for that matter. Josh Johnson is likely going to sign in the NFL next week, too. There’s going to be change next year with the Lions. They were 7-11 last season and have been destroyed in the first round of the playoffs the last two years running. There’d better be change.
It remains to be seen whether the idea of ditching Harris will prove to be a good move mind you, and of course Harris will attempt to be at his persuasive best when he signs, as Chris Walby and countless other experts have suggested, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as soon as next week.
B.C. will make tailback an import spot again because Buono believes it is more cost efficient, arguing he can get two Americans to carry the rock for the $200,000 it would take to keep Harris, also thus enabling him to tweak the ratio back in favour of playing three Canadians on the offensive line.
Regardless of whether there will be greater financial loss because of further fan erosion because the Lions have turfed aside a favourite, the premise has some merit, as three Americans on the offensive line last year under Jeff Tedford was as unsustainable as it was unproductive.
But to suggest the Lions have blown it again by saying au revoir to Harris without a predetermined replacement would be a tad unfair. B.C. got everything possible out of a player it discovered in junior, tried to make into a safety and receiver, and flourished eventually out of the backfield.
Harris got a place to mature, learning how to speak honestly without being disruptive and stand up to defend just about everything that didn’t work under George Cortez, who had no idea how to best use his talents, and Jacques Chapdelaine.
It is not a relationship gone bad, just one which had run its course.