October 8 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 23  

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Mustangs need shakeup

It's time for Larry Haylor to step down.

Around Western, Haylor is revered for what he's managed to do on the football field. Ever since he took the head coaching reins back in 1984, the Mustangs have had a winning record. Haylor's led the team to two national championships, three national semi-finals and three provincial championships. But precious few of these accolades have come in recent years and Haylor's time for resting on his laurels has passed.

As it stands, Western's football program is much like Notre Dame's. Both schools have a great football tradition, but right now it seems that is all that is holding either program together. Partly due to the fact it is Western's 125th anniversary, memories of the football team's past accomplishments seem to be trumping celebrations of current ones.

Haylor has been at Western for 19 years. During that time he has won more than anyone else - he recently surpassed Dave "Tuffy" Knight for the all-time win record in Canadian intercollegiate football history with career win number 154. It may even be argued Haylor is drawing top talent to Western.

However, it's been nearly 10 years since Western's last Vanier Cup (1994). The team did win a Yates Cup in 1998, but failed to do much beyond their provincial championship.

Last year, it was defensive co-ordinator Bob LaRose who fell onto Haylor's chopping block. Following a defensive meltdown in the OUA semi-finals against Queen's, Haylor needed a scapegoat. The problem of Western choke-fests against any capable team hasn't been solved, so does that leave Haylor as the last stumbling block to be removed?

The team has stagnated and the most effective way to shake the Mustangs out of it is to replace the head coach. Haylor has enjoyed unprecedented job security and perhaps it is that job security that has led to the team's stale play.

Finally, there stands a good chance that with his hard-nosed, kick-ass-and-take-names attitude, Haylor has alienated some of his players. What may be required is a more nurturing, laid-back coach to right the Mustangs' ship. Of course, that type of coach only does well in small doses. Then again, the same can be said for a coach that milks performance out of his players through fear.

Like any other coach, Haylor knows he was only hired to someday be fired. Imagine if Western had fallen in its two overtime victories this season - Western would be 1-5 and Haylor would have his first losing season on his hands. If that had happened, people everywhere would be calling for his resignation. With two games left against York and Guelph (games that Western should, nay, must win), it will be interesting to see what unfolds. Whatever happens though, for the future good of Western's football program, Haylor should resign gracefully.




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