The 2018 season will be the last of Buono’s Hall of Fame career, but the B.C. Lions’ venerable head coach says that fact hasn’t sunk in yet.
“No because there’s way too much to do and focus on,” Buono said. “If I stop focusing then I shouldn’t be here because I’m already gone.
“If this was us going into the Grey Cup in Edmonton and it was going to be my last game, yes, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was probably some emotional attachment. But it’s too early in the process.”
B.C. kicks off Buono’s final campaign hosting the Montreal Alouettes as the Lions look to atone for a miserable 2017 season. The CFL club missed the playoffs after posting a 7-11 record.
“To me it’s Week 1, we — missed the playoffs last year, we hurt the organization, we’ve got to do a whole lot better than we did,” Buono said. “Say what you want, we won our two [exhibition] games.
“Professional football is about winning games. Winning always makes you feel better and more positive about yourself and always gives you, I think, momentum. This is what we want. We’re healthy, the guys are starting to buy into [GM Ed Hervey’s] and my philosophy and approach and part of that is they see the success we’re having.”
The regular season begins Thursday night with the Edmonton Eskimos visiting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Toronto Argonauts begin their Grey Cup defence the following night in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Calgary Stampeders host Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday while the Ottawa Redblacks will play their season opener June 21 at home to Saskatchewan.
For many players, training camp is a necessary evil and grind. But not for Buono.
“I love training camp, it’s pure football,” he said. “I’m not going to miss it until maybe next June and my wife says, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’re going to keep you really busy so you won’t be missing anything.’”