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Bombers announce coaching staff

April 26, 2004 - Canadian Football League (CFL) - Winnipeg Blue Bombers News Release

WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Football Club today announced the group of assistant coaches that will guide the Blue Bombers throughout the 2004 CFL season.

Winnipeg head coach Dave Ritchie announced today that six people – Less Browne, Jim Daley, Bob Dyce, Mike Gorton, Ron Lancaster and Donn Smith – will help lead the team as it strives for the 2004 Grey Cup.

Browne, Dyce, Gorton and Smith have been full-time coaches with Winnipeg in the past while Browne is a former Blue Bomber player. Browne and Smith are CFL veterans. Browne is a Canadian Football Hall of Fame member. Dyce is a former Blue Bombers guest coach and training camp participant. All six have a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them.

Here is an outline of the staff’s coaching responsibilities:

Less Browne Defensive Backs

Jim Daley Defensive Line & Special Teams Coordinator

Bob Dyce Wide Receivers

Mike Gorton Assistant to the Head Coach/Defensive


Ron Lancaster Offensive Coordinator & Runningbacks

Donn Smith Offensive Line

The club today also named Daniel Sutcliffe video coordinator.


Defensive Backs Coach

Years Coaching: 7

Years CFL/WBB: 7/6

Less Browne, quite probably the greatest defensive back in CFL History, enters his sixth season as linebackers coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

For the past four seasons he has been the mastermind behind the best linebacking corps in the CFL. He brings a level of fire, intensity and commitment to football coaching that many athletes aren’t able to muster as players.

Less was a gifted CFL veteran who used passion and intensity to fuel the skill and knowledge he brought to the game. He was a rare football commodity – a defensive player who could single-handedly affect the outcome of a game. His prowess on the gridiron was recognized in 2002 with his induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Following his exceptional playing career, Less stayed involved in the sport. In 1997 & 1998, Less was an analyst on TSN’s CFL broadcasts. In that role he displayed his insightful football knowledge, wise game analysis and, with his sharp clothing, his ability to “style and profile” with anybody.

During those two seasons, Less was a guest coach with Dave Ritchie and the Montréal Alouettes. Less also filled in as defensive backs coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1997 after the release of head coach Don Sutherin and his staff.


Less came to the CFL in 1984 after playing his college ball at Colorado State University.

He signed as a free agent in April 1984 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. With Hamilton, Less made a profound impact on the team’s defence and was a key reason the club made three straight appearances in the Grey Cup (1984, 1985 & 1986).

He remained with the Tabbies until 1989 when he joined the Blue Bombers. He was a key player in the club’s 1990 Grey Cup Championship side and a leader on a record-setting defence that season.

Less moved on to Ottawa for the 1992 season and was an all-star for the Rough Riders. He then played the last two years of his career with the British Columbia Lions, helping Dave Ritchie’s team win the Grey Cup in 1994.

Less set team and CFL records with each of the four clubs for which he played. Many of his CFL marks still stand today.


Less was a six-time CFL All-Star. He was a member of the All-Canadian Team twice with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1985 & 1986), twice with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1990 & 1991), once with the Ottawa Rough Riders (1992) and once with the British Columbia Lions (1994).

Likewise, he was a divisional all-star on six occasions. He was an East Division All-Star in with Hamilton 1985 and 1986 as well as with Ottawa in 1992. He was a West Division All-Star with Winnipeg in 1990 and 1991 and with B.C. in 1994.

Less was a nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player two times in his career: 1986 and 1994.


Less is the CFL’s All-Time Leader in career interception returns with 87 – a whopping 21 interceptions ahead of his nearest rival, former B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos player Larry Highbaugh.

He also holds the CFL record for most career interception return yards with 1,508. That total is 441 yards ahead of former Montréal Alouette and Saskatchewan Roughrider Harry Skipper.

Less holds the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the CFL record books for interception return yards in a season. He totaled 273 interception return yards for Winnipeg in 1990 and added 267 more return yards for the Blue & Gold in 1991. As if that wasn’t good enough, Less then amounted 259 return yards with Ottawa in 1992.

Less’ 14 interceptions with Winnipeg in 1990 were one shy of Al Brenner’s single-season record of 15 picks for Hamilton in 1972. His total remains 2nd-highest in CFL History.

Less held the CFL record for interceptions in a single game with four, which he accomplished in a game against Montréal (Hamilton @ Montréal, Aug. 21, 1986). The mark was eventually beaten by Winnipeg Blue Bombers cornerback Rod Hill, who had five against Hamilton (Winnipeg vs. Hamilton, Sept. 9, 1990). Less played at the opposite corner in that game, and it was because Hamilton was avoiding him, that Hill had the opportunity to set the record.

Less also excelled on special teams. He held the CFL record for most career blocked kicks (8) for eight years until Gerald Vaughn broke it in 2001. His single-season total of three blocked kicks for Ottawa in 1992 is the CFL’s 3rd-best total ever.


Less’ top two single-season interception return yards totals mentioned above were set with the Blue Bombers and remain club records.

His 14 interceptions in 1990 holds 1st place overall on Winnipeg’s single-season pick charts. The 10 interceptions he totaled in 1991 are still the 5th-best single-season mark in club history.


Less has the rare distinction of holding a club record in a specific statistical category with three separate teams. He holds the record for most interceptions in a single season for three clubs: Winnipeg (14 in 1990), Ottawa (11 in 1992) and British Columbia (11 in 1994).


In the off-season, Less enjoys playing golf, horseback riding and activities with his two boys Anthony and Adrian. Born in East Liverpool, Ohio, he now lives with his wife Enza and sons in Hamilton.


Defensive Line Coach & Special Teams Coordinator

Years Coaching: 28

Years CFL/WBB: 13/1

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers added a knowledgeable and talented football mind to its coaching staff with the signing of Jim Daley, Jan. 26, 2004.

Daley will serve as the defensive line coach and will share the special teams coaching duties with Bob Dyce. Daley will fill the void left by Canadian Football Hall of Fame member Gene Gaines, who announced his retirement from coaching today.

In short, Daley is a winner. Along with his knowledge, he brings a tremendous work ethic and intensity to the Big Blue coaching staff.

Daley was most recently the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Calgary Stampeders. He coached with the Stamps from 2000-2003 under both Wally Buono and Jim Barker. He was with Calgary when they won the 2001 Grey Cup over Winnipeg (Winnipeg vs. Calgary @ Montréal, Nov. 25, 2001).

Daley’s defensive units in Calgary were among the league’s best and in 2003, defensive lineman Joe Fleming won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award under his tutelage.

Daley was the head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for three seasons (1996-1998). He is the only Rider coach in the past 14 years to win a West Division Championship and earn an appearance in the Grey Cup. His Saskatchewan side faced the Toronto Argonauts in the 1997 Grey Cup.

From 1994-1995, Daley was the defensive coordinator for the Riders and again, his defensive crews were among the league’s finest.

Daley first came to the CFL in 1991 with the Ottawa Rough Riders. Prior to that, he coached in the Canadian college ranks. He was the head coach of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees from 1985-1990, twice earning OUA Coach of the Year honors (1986 & 1988). He also coached at Carleton University.

From 1982-1984, Daley was the head coach of the Canadian Junior Football League’s Ottawa Sooners. Twice the Sooners advanced to the Canadian Bowl (1983 & 1984) and once they won it (1984). He was the Ontario Football Conference Coach of the Year in 1983 & 1984.


Wide Receivers Coach

Years Coaching: 12

Years CFL/WBB: 2/2

Winnipeg Blue Bombers special teams and runningbacks coach Bob Dyce begins his second season with the Blue & Gold.

He joined the football club after spending the previous six years with Brian Dobie’s monster college powerhouse program at the University of Manitoba.

Dyce was a key component in the resurgence of Bison Football. Dyce was the only coach to have been with Dobie from the time the Bisons head man got the job. During his tenure as receivers coach, Dyce developed offensive schemes that enabled Manitoba’s offense to become one of the best in the nation.

During the course of Dyce’s six years, the receiving corps produced seven All-Conference Players, three All-Canadians, two CFL draft picks (Mike Faisthuber 4th Round-2001 and Joe Orel 6th Round-2001) and two free-agent signings (Adrian Huntley and Dave Donaldson) under Coach Dyce’s tenure.

Dyce’s dedication and commitment to Bison football was fundamental in leading the Hustlin’ Herd’s charge back to prominence in Canadian University football.

Before his six years with Manitoba (1996-2002), Dyce was the offensive coordinator and receivers coach with the Winnipeg Hawkeyes of the Canadian Junior Football League (1994-1995).

From 1992-1993, Dyce was the receivers coach with the St. Vital Mustangs, also of the CJFL.

Dyce has deep ties to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers program. A guest coach with the club in 2002, he was a free agent who attended both the 1988 and 1989 Blue Bombers training camps.

He played at Allan Hancock Junior College in Santa Maria, California from 1988-1990 and with the Manitoba Bisons in 1991.

Dyce has two children – Brooklyn (13) and Trysten (9) – both of whom are budding football stars and proud to be a part of the Blue Bombers football family.


Assistant to the Head Coach, Defensive Coordinator & Linebackers Coach

Years Coaching: 35

Years CFL/WBB: 5/4

The key figure behind the CFL’s top defence returns for another season.

Linebackers coach Mike Gorton returns for his fifth season with the Blue & Gold. He was the football club’s defensive line coach in the 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons. He brings several years of coaching experience to the team.

Gorton began his coaching career in 1970 as a graduate assistant for Ray Callahan’s University of Cincinnati Bearcats. It was there that Gorton assisted Dave Ritchie with the Bearcats’ defensive squad.

After receiving his Masters of Education degree from Cincinnati, Gorton ventured to Florida where he coached high-school football for 17 years. During that time he was a defensive coordinator, head coach and eventually athletic director.

He has also coached in the collegiate ranks for seven years: Alabama State University (defensive coordinator, 1974), Fairmont State College under Dave Ritchie (defensive coordinator, 1980-1983) and the University of Cincinnati (linebackers coach, 1988).

His CFL experience began in 1994 as a guest coach for Ritchie and the British Columbia Lions. He was the Leos defensive line coach and video coordinator in 1995 and then later a guest coach with the Montréal Alouettes in 1997 and 1998.

Prior to becoming a coach, Gorton had an outstanding career as a football player. He was an exceptional offensive lineman for Tom Porter’s team at St. Olaf College from 1964-1967. He then transferred to the University of Cincinnati in 1968, where he blocked for one of the top passing offences in the NCAA.

After his playing days in college, Gorton took two shots at becoming a player in the NFL. He tried out with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1969 and then with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1970 before turning to coaching.

Mike has been married for 32 years to Carolyn, who is an assistant administrator of Charlotte Vocational Technical Center. They have two daughters: 26-year-old Tricia, who is a first grade teacher in Tampa, and 22-year-old Michelle, who is a recent graduate of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina.


Offensive Coordinator & Runningbacks Coach

Years Coaching: 22

Years CFL/WBB: 11/1

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers strengthened the guidance of its offensive firepower by naming Ron Lancaster offensive coordinator, Dec. 17, 2003.

Lancaster is an experienced offensive coordinator who has had great success in the CFL. He has coached a total of 10 years in the league. He has coached in four Grey Cup games and won twice.

He also has nine years of coaching experience at the Canadian collegiate level.

Lancaster spent the past six seasons (1998-2003) as offensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. During that time, Lancaster’s offence led the Tabbies to two Grey Cup appearances and one Grey Cup victory. His offensive units set many team records and his offensive players set numerous individual club records.

For two years (1996 & 1997), Lancaster was offensive coordinator for the Edmonton Eskimos and in those two years, the Eskies advanced to the Grey Cup (1996) placed first in the West (1997).

Lancaster was responsible for rebuilding the University of Manitoba Bisons football program from 1993-1995 when he served as head coach. He is well known in the Winnipeg community and he is looking forward to returning.

Lancaster is happily married to Paula and has two wonderful daughters, Brittany and Brie-Anne.


Offensive Line Coach

Years Coaching: 17

Years CFL/WBB: 2/2

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers landed a good one with the acquisition of offensive line coach Donn Smith. Now entering his second season with Winnipeg, Smith is a former CFLer, a former college head coach and, most importantly, an excellent instructor.

He played 123 games for the Ottawa Rough Riders over a nine-year CFL career and three times was an East Division All-Star (1976, 1977 & 1978) on the offensive line. Smith was a member of two Grey Cup Championship teams with Ottawa: in 1973 & 1976.

Smith was the Rough Riders nominee for the Schenley Rookie of the Year Award in 1973. He would twice be the club’s Schenley nominee for Most Outstanding Lineman: in 1976 & 1977. He was named Ottawa’s All-Time All-Star centre in 1994.

A four-year captain with Ottawa, Smith came to the Rough Riders as their territorial exemption draft choice in 1973 after a stellar career at Purdue University.

The NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs also drafted Smith in the 7th Round of the NFL Draft, however, the industrial management graduate chose to play in the CFL and start a rewarding career in the Canadian civil service – a career that eventually took him to the senior management levels of Public Works Canada.

After his playing days were through, Smith served as offensive line coach at the University of Ottawa from 1985-1990 under head coach Jim Daley. The two have again joined forces, this time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

From there Smith held the same position with the Ottawa Sooners of the Canadian Junior Football League in 1991 & 1992. The Sooners had great success under Smith and head coach Greg Marshall.

In 1991, they advanced to the CJFL’s Canadian Bowl Championship, where they lost to the Saskatoon Hilltops. In 1992, the Sooners took the next step, winning the Canadian Bowl over the Surrey Rams.

Smith was then the head coach of the University of Carleton Ravens football team from 1993-1998. He was the OQIFC Coach of the Year in 1996. The university ended the football program following the 1998 season in the spring of 1999.

Smith has been a guest coach with three CFL clubs: the Ottawa Rough Riders (1991-1996), the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1997 & 1998) and the Toronto Argonauts (1999).

Smith attended Ottawa’s Nepean High School before moving on to Windsor, where he graduated from Vincent Massey High School.

Smith has coached several CFL players including present-day players Jason Kralt, Cameron Legault and Jason Mallett. He has coached three athletes who played in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game: Chris Gioskas, Adam MacDonald and Harry Van Hofwegen. An excellent teacher, Smith taught both Steve Glenn and Marc Pilon how to long snap.

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