Volume 96, Issue 73
Friday, February 7, 2003

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From a purple jersey to a pink slip

Coaches getting fired in the world of professional sports is nothing new. Unfortunately, another one bit the dust this week, and this time it was on Western's campus.

The Western Mustangs assistant football coach and defensive co-ordinator, Bob LaRose, was fired, after 19 years with the program. Head coach Larry Haylor decided it was time for a change.

LaRose is also a kinesiology professor and, according to a press release, will continue his duties within the faculty.

In addition to his time as part of the football coaching staff, LaRose competed on the basketball and football teams from 1966-69, is a member of the "W" Club Hall of Fame and is a very well-liked and prominent member of the Western community.

While Haylor surely didn't want to fire his colleague and friend, we can only hope he gave him the option of resigning before he was let go.

Coaching is a finicky business. Depending on how your team fares on a given day, you can go from being heralded as a genius, to getting told to walk the plank in a matter of minutes.

But who should be the one to leave the Mustangs ship? Common wisdom would suggest change starts at the top. If a professional team fires somebody, it's virtually always the head coach.

The McMaster Marauders' current head coach Greg Marshall left the Mustangs coaching staff seven seasons ago and built a national powerhouse in Hamilton, adding fuel to the argument that, perhaps, it is Haylor whose time has come to move on.

In fairness, the Mustangs aren't exactly the bottom feeders of the league, like the University of Toronto Varsity Blues or Guelph Gryphons. They finished the regular season with a very respectable 6-2 record and won a playoff game before falling to Queen's.

Then again, Western football has traditionally been a program that tolerates nothing less than competing for a national title every season. While they might be a solid squad, the current edition of the Mustangs are a long way from contender status.

A change at the top can push a team over the hump. Look no further than the current Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for such an example. Under former coach Tony Dungy, the Bucs were a consistently good team that could never win the "big one." One year after hiring Jon Gruden to replace Dungy, the good ship Buccaneer is setting sale for Disneyland.

Maybe a change will spark the Mustangs and put them back in a position to place championship rings on their collective fingers. Haylor better hope so, because if it doesn't, the next time a finger gets pointed, it could be at him.



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