‘I always play out my contracts’: Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea not concerned about expiring deal

Photo courtesy: Thomas Skrlj/CFL

Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea will try for his third straight Grey Cup title on Sunday but his contract with the team is set to expire at the end of the year.

Nevertheless, the CFL’s reigning Coach of the Year has no doubt about his future in the Manitoba capital.

“If you look at the history, I always play out my contracts and figure it out at the end of the year,” O’Shea said.

It is unusual for a head coach in any pro sport not on the hot seat to enter the final year of their agreement, with most choosing to seek an extension in order to create security. O’Shea has been a notable exception having already coached under an expiring contract twice during his Winnipeg tenure.

“I’ve always believed that contracts are really about what you’re going to do going forward, it’s not about what you did in the past. Judging by my answer, you can tell I don’t even put a lot of thought into that,” O’Shea said.

“If I’m asking our players to stay in the moment and to stay focused on the very important task at hand… I don’t waste a lot of time during the season worrying about after the season. We can fix that or figure it out after but I imagine some people would think it’s short-sighted.”

In December 2016, the Hall of Fame linebacker had a 23-31 regular season record and led his team to only one postseason appearance, losing the West Semi-Final to B.C. by a score of 32-31. The Bombers undoubtedly improved under his guidance but Winnipeg was hardly viewed as an emerging dynasty.

By the time O’Shea signed his extension in December 2019, his regular season record had improved to 56-52 and his team had capped a remarkable postseason run by upsetting Hamilton in the Grey Cup, snapping a 29-year championship drought.

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, to tell you the truth,” O’Shea said. “Just believe in the organization and believe in myself and in the team around you. It’s not hard to do.”

Winnipeg has now become the class of the league under O’Shea. He has an 81-58 regular season record while leading the team to back-to-back Grey Cup titles. The 52-year-old is one win away from winning a third-straight Grey Cup and O’Shea has the fifteenth-most wins as a head coach in CFL history.

I think you’re comfortable with what you’ve done, right? I’m not in that organization, I don’t know the situation with Mike but I’m sure Mike feels really good about where he’s at. It’s going to be a done deal at some stage,” Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. 

“Sometimes you gotta do those things to get a little bit of leverage. I’m not saying that’s what Mike’s doing, but sometimes you got to play out your contract and then let’s see. Me personally being a young coach, I’d want to have a few years left because I’m not as established as Mike.”

O’Shea was asked, regardless of his contract, if he was committed to the Bombers beyond 2022.

“Absolutely,” O’Shea said. “I love the Bombers, I love the city.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.