BUONO, DICK­EN­SON SHARE SUC­CESS STO­RIES

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS - — TODD SAEL­HOF

talk Fri­day of re­tire­ment and an emo­tional last (pos­si­ble) visit to McMa­hon Sta­dium quickly turned back to the foot­ball at hand for

Wally buono.

Specif­i­cally, the for­mer cal­gary Stam­ped­ers GM/ coach wanted to talk about the im­por­tance of the game for his b.c. Lions in the cFL play­off pic­ture. typ­i­cal Wally. all busi­ness.

“I don’t want to say any­thing about com­ing back,” buono said with a chuckle.

“I’m hope­fully go­ing to come visit cal­gary once in a while.”

In par­tic­u­lar, he hopes there’s at least one more visit in the near fu­ture — a post-sea­son date with the host Stam­ped­ers some­time in Novem­ber — be­fore he re­tires fol­low­ing, this, his 38th cFL sea­son as player, coach and/ or GM.

His Lions, with a 7-7 record, are in the thick of the West di­vi­sion play­off race.

but when pressed, the ol’ coach did talk a touch about the good times — mostly about the friends he made — dur­ing his suc­cess­ful 16-year ten­ure in cal­gary.

“I did speak with (Stamps GM) John Huf­nagel this week, and (for­mer Stamps pres­i­dent) Stan Schwartz did reach out to me,” said buono of two men who helped him achieve great ac­com­plish­ments in cal­gary, in­clud­ing win­ning mul­ti­ple Grey cups. “these are life­long friends that whether I hear from them to­day or not won’t change things.”

buono will no doubt have a few words pre-game — and likely post-game — with an­other good friend in op­po­si­tion head coach dave dick­en­son.

af­ter all, the two are in­ter­twined with the suc­cess they shared with both fran­chises that take the turf Satur­day night at McMa­hon Sta­dium (6 p.m., tSN/770 cHQr).

the two won the 1998 Grey cup with the Stam­ped­ers and then the 2006 Grey cup with the Lions.

Like that of Huf­nagel and dick­en­son now in cal­gary, the buono-dick­en­son foot­ball mar­riage was a match made in heaven.

“We were very, very im­pressed with dave,” said buono of re­flect­ing on dick­en­son be­com­ing his quar­ter­back with the Lions in 2003. “When you look at his ca­reer, we were right.

“When we brought him to Van­cou­ver, it was part of our plan to bring b.c. back a lit­tle bit, and dave was a key, key in­di­vid­ual. He was just fin­ished with the NFL and prob­a­bly had a lot of op­tions, and he chose Van­cou­ver. at that point, he was a proven quar­ter­back.”

but af­ter his five years with the Lions and one fi­nal sea­son with the Stamps in 2008, dick­en­son turned to coach­ing with the red & White, with whom he re­mains to­day.

“dave should’ve been the b.c. Lions coach,” said buono, only half-jok­ing — we think. “I think he lever­aged me to get more money with Huff (to be head coach in cal­gary).

“Se­ri­ously … be­cause I had talked to him twice about coach­ing, I knew dave wanted to be a coach. but I also knew that was never go­ing to hap­pen in b.c., be­cause his wife’s fam­ily was from Medicine Hat and she has a busi­ness here that does very well.

“but it was worth a try.” What mat­ters most to both men is the friend­ship they’ve de­vel­oped along­side the foot­ball suc­cess.

“It’s been a good re­la­tion­ship,” dick­en­son said. “I got to know Wally more as a man than a coach when I went to b.c. where I was able to get to know his fam­ily a lit­tle more. So to me, I feel like he’s a friend, whereas in the ’90s here, he was more of a boss.”

and of course, there’s mu­tual re­spect.

“When I got here to cal­gary (in 1997), it was ba­si­cally the same as to­day,” dick­en­son said. “there was an ex­pec­ta­tion to win each and ev­ery week.” that was buono.

“Wally’s a foot­ball guy,” added dick­en­son. “I think he’s a man with high morals. He’s very com­pet­i­tive. and he’s the one who started the stan­dard of what we live by to­day.

“We’ll miss him on the side­lines. the cFL will miss him. He’s had a good run. and he’s been an out­stand­ing coach and gen­eral man­ager.”

POST­MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Wally Buono shares a mo­ment with his fam­ily af­ter win­ning the 2001 Grey Cup.

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