Volume 96, Issue 73
Friday, February 7, 2003

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Every "LaRose" has its thorn: Bob LaRose fired

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Bob LaRose, the Western Mustangs assistant football coach and defensive co-ordinator, was released from the program on Wednesday.

LaRose has been a member of the Mustangs coaching brass for the past 19 years.

"It was guided by a strong personal sense for significant change," explained Western head coach Larry Haylor, noting he had been thinking about the decision for three months.

In his 18th season as head coach of the Mustangs, Haylor said the decision was extremely difficult. "Having him as a colleague and friend, there had to be an enormous need for change to make this decision. It's the most difficult decision I've ever made," Haylor said. "I tried to do a bad and sad thing the best way it could be done."

When asked by The Gazette about the decision, LaRose said, "[I am] currently not in a position to talk about [the decision] because I'm still trying to figure it out myself."

LaRose declined further comment, but did state in a press release, "I will always be a Mustang. What I cherish most is the wonderful association with the fine young men who have, and will continue to carry on, Western's illustrious football tradition."

LaRose will retain his position as a Kinesiology professor at Western.

LaRose has been a mainstay in the Canadian football community, playing seven years with the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers, as well as coaching at the University of Manitoba, the University of Ottawa and Queen's University.

Furthermore, LaRose had an outstanding career with the Mustangs from 1966-69 on both the basketball and football teams.

Fourth-year defensive back Kevin MacKey said the firing came as a surprise. "I was stunned and shocked at the same time," he said.

When asked about the defensive shortcomings this season, MacKey explained, "You're only as good as your players sometimes – the players and individuals didn't make the plays. You can't blame the coach when the players can't execute."

Fifth-year defensive back Kris Aiken added, "Bob always did a good job with what he had."

The Mustangs finished 6-2 last season, losing 55-20 to Queen's in the Ontario University Athletics semi-final. They also allowed the McMaster Marauders to score 38 points in a 38-37 loss to the Marauders on Homecoming weekend.

Haylor, however, said it was unfair to pick particular games as a reason for the firing.

"There are going to be games where everything goes right and then games where things go wrong. You can't look at particular games when making a decision of this magnitude," he said.

Haylor said the team will bide their time while searching for LaRose's replacement.

"We're going to try and do it well, as opposed to quickly. The decision was never about changing to someone else, it was more about the process," Haylor said.

– with files from Ryan Hickman and Benjamin Mills


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