The BC Lions are moving in a new direction. Sort of.
After 15 years as general manager of the team, Wally Buono has stepped down as general manager. His replacement is Ed Hervey, a former player and general manager with the Edmonton Eskimos.
Despite relinquishing general manager duties, Buono is not leaving the organization.
The 67-year-old will remain the team’s head coach for one more season. He’ll also stay on as the Lions’ vice president of football operations.
“My time with the Lions has been memorable to say the least, but right now my sole focus is working with Ed to build a championship team in 2018,” Buono said. “This past season was tremendously frustrating for all of us, but today’s announcement is the kind of change I believe our organization needs, our fans want to see and something we can build on moving forward.”
This is not the first time that Buono has tried to reduce his workload. After winning the Grey Cup in 2011, the Canadian Football Hall of Famer stepped down as head coach. He returned in 2016, leading his team to the CFL’s second-best regular season record.
But after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 years this season, it was time for a change.
“This is a significant day for our organization,” Buono said, adding that Hervey will have final say on all football decisions.
“I’ve had a great deal of respect for Ed since his days as a player. His extensive work as a scout and his proven ability to build competitive and exciting teams make him a natural fit for this position and I am confident that the BC Lions will thrive under his leadership.”
Hervey spent 18 years with the Eskimos as a player, scout, and senior football operations executive. He becomes just the 14th general manager in BC Lions history. The 44-year-old Californian won a Grey Cup as general manager in Edmonton in 2015.
“I am both honoured and proud to be joining the BC Lions Football Club and it is with sincere thanks to David Braley and Wally Buono that I take on the responsibility of bringing a Grey Cup title back to British Columbia,” said Hervey.
Buono is without a doubt one of the best coaches in league history – he holds the CFL record for most coaching wins – but there will be a number of skeptics about this new arrangement. Will there be a power struggle?
Hervey did his best to quell that cynicism.
“Wally was very clear during our discussions that I would be working from a clean slate as it relates to player personnel and football operations staff, but my first request of him was that he remain on as head coach for the 2018 season. He is unquestionably, the best person to lead our team on the field next year and I am very pleased he has agreed to do so. We will work together in coming days to assemble the rest of our coaching staff.”
The Hervey hire is the first step in the rejuvenation of the franchise. Owner David Braley is getting up in years, and wants to sell the team. President Dennis Skulsky is of retirement age, and has attempted to take a step back in the past.
Hervey’s job is simple, yet difficult. He needs to assemble the best talent possible on the field, fill the seats at BC Place, and bring home a championship.
We’ll soon find out if he’s up to the challenge.
"Team first. We before I. That's a concept I truly embrace"
— BC Lions (@BCLions) November 30, 2017