Kevin Bourgoin is finally getting a chance to relax this weekend.
And the University of Maine’s former longtime offensive coordinator will be enjoying every second of his time with wife Amanda and sons Brendan and James.
Bourgoin, 46, has plenty to celebrate as the running backs coach for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, which won the Grey Cup.
The Blue Bombers claimed the Canadian Football League’s equivalent of the NFL Super Bowl on Sunday with a 33-12 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
It was Winnipeg’s first Grey Cup title since 1990.
“It has been exciting. It was a remarkable season with all the things we went through, to finish the way we did, ” the Vermont native said. “I’m proud of our team, our coaching staff and the organization.”
Bourgoin said the City of Winnipeg’s reaction to the Grey Cup victory has been unbelievable.
“There were 2,000 to 3,000 people waiting for us at the airport when we returned,” he said. “We had a parade [a few days later], and it was incredible. People were crying and thanking us.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” he added.
Two Winnipeg assistant coaches had tragedies involving family members, and the team lost starting quarterback Matt Nichols in September to a season-ending shoulder injury. Nichols’ replacement, Chris Streveler, missed the regular-season finale with an ankle injury.
The Blue Bombers obtained CFL veteran and former University of Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros from Toronto on trade deadline day (Oct. 9), and he quarterbacked them to four wins, including the three playoff victories.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bougoin said. “[Collaros] had to come in and learn the offense, and he picked it right up.
“We weren’t playing very well at the end of the season, but we got hot at the right time,” Bourgoin said.
The Blue Bombers (11-7 in the regular season) had a bye week on the final weekend of the regular season, which gave Collaros more time to learn the offense.
The Blue Bombers lost four of five before beating Calgary 29-28 in their final regular-season game Oct. 25.
Bourgoin had an important influence on winning the title because it was a running back, Andrew Harris, who starred in the Grey Cup final.
The Winnipeg native carried 18 times for 134 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught six passes for 35 yards and the other touchdown. Justin Medlock kicked six field goals.
Harris became the first player in Grey Cup history to be named the game’s most valuable player and most valuable Canadian.
“He’s unbelievable. He amazes me,” Bourgoin said. “He’s smart. He’s tough. He plays hurt. He has a great feel for the game. He sees everything. He is very competitive. He wants to be the best at what he does. He works hard.”
Harris has led the CFL in rushing in all three of Bourgoin’s seasons with the Blue Bombers.
This season, he ran the ball 224 times for 1,373 yards, 280 yards more than his closest pursuer.
Bourgoin spent 15 seasons at UMaine, most of the time as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Jack Cosgrove from 2007 to 2016. He was later named the associate head coach. He had coached wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks from 2005 to 2006.
When Bourgoin joined Winnipeg three years ago, he had to educate himself on the league and the different rules. Among them, there are 12 players instead of 11, three downs rather than four to earn a first down and six players may be in motion simultaneously prior to the snap. American football allows only one.
Bourgoin, who spent the 2016 season as the quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator at Colby College in Waterville under Cosgrove in 2016, said a lot of people do not realize how good the caliber of play is in the CFL.
In addition to being the running backs coach, he also works a little with the receivers, fullbacks and tight ends. He is involved in pass protection.
“I spent more time during the last off season [studying] the passing game. I was picking everyone’s brains. I want to learn all the positions. I want to be a lifelong student of the game so I can help make our players better,” Bourgoin said.
Bourgoin is looking forward to having some time off with wife Amanda, who led Husson University to five consecutive conference softball championships in seven seasons, and their hockey-playing sons.
“I’m tired,” Bourgoin said.
He noted that the CFL season includes preseason, two exhibition games (the first on May 31), 18 regular-season games, two bye weeks and the playoffs.
Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea and Cosgrove have something in common that Bourgoin strongly supports: creating a close-knit team environment.
“I don’t know if I understood it until two, three years ago. They each talked about playing for each other and honoring your teammates — caring about one another. That really impacted me,” Bourgoin said.
Bourgoin’s contract expires in January, but he hopes to return to Winnipeg next season. He and his family love living in Winnipeg.