Ticats Kent Austin to be heard but not seen on Saturday

The guy calling plays from the spotter’s booth hasn’t been up there in  seven years, while the guy running the show from the sidelines will be doing it for the first time in his career.

And the Tiger-Cats’ reaction to this widely-discussed procedural wrinkle for Saturday’s game against an opponent that is undefeated since Canada Day?

Just business as unusual.

When the Calgary Stampeders come into town for Saturday’s late matinee, Hamilton head coach and play caller Kent Austin will be banished to the spotter’s booth on the seventh floor of Tim Hortons Field: the farthest point from the playing turf.

After unintentionally striking the hand of a game official in Saskatchewan last weekend Austin has been fined $10,000 and removed from the sidelines – the organization is quick to point out he wasn’t suspended – for Saturday’s game, although he may send in plays from the booth and make all the decisions that head coaches normally do.

Offensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer, who’s been a head-coach-in-waiting for a couple of years, will double up as sideline boss and will be in constant communication with Austin via one of the six headsets each CFL team is allotted.

“I’ll call everything from the booth and be in communication with O for things like challenges and penalties,” said Austin, adding that third-string quarterback Jeff Matthews will also wear a headset, as a backup facilitator.

“The issue would be if we lose communication and we have to send in plays.”

That would normally happen by Austin hand-signaling to Collaros, but Austin will be too far away so, he says, “we have contingencies for that. It’s jerry-rigged a bit.”

One possible scenario, Austin says, would be to have binoculars on the bench and a whiteboard upstairs on which he would write the play number. But it all would have to be done very quickly. Maybe too quickly, it says here.

And even though the chances of that playing out are small, the technician in charge of headsets suddenly seems to be as important as anyone in the house.

Austin says there are other issues with him not being on the sidelines, where he has been throughout his head coaching tenures at Cornell and in Hamilton. The last time he called plays from aloft was at Ole Miss in 2009.

“You’re more in the action,” he says of being on the sidelines. “You get a better feel for the complexion of the game that is playing out in front of you, momentum swings, things of that nature.”

He also explains that on the sideline a coach gets a sense of the collective mood of the team and when it needs a little head message.

“It’s not a perfect science by any stretch,” he said after Thursday’s wet and rainy practice.

“Sometimes you have to do something to pick our guys up…..and you lose the feel for that if you’re not down there. But O will be there, and talking with me and he’s got a good feel for those things.”

Collaros said Austin’s physical location should have no impact on his game and some players pointed out that the head coach tends to give them space and if he needs to communicate something to them during a game, will often do it through their position coaches.

The unflappable Steinauer will be running the first sideline in his pro coaching career but isn’t worried at all.

“I’m running the defence and that’s still my focus, but there will be added responsibilities. Challenges, penalties, etc., but you can’t control how many of those there will be.”

Give the league-wide publicity afforded the Austin situation, and the camera attention that is surely to be centred on who’s on the sidelines and who isn’t, one could forgive Steinauer for being a little anxious.

“I’m not,” he said.  “I’m at peace, I’m calm. I’ll be surrounded by the other coaches. The difference is that Kent won’t be over to my left or right.

“But he’s an earshot away.”

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (239 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

27 Comments on Ticats Kent Austin to be heard but not seen on Saturday

  1. Shame on the CFL for trying to paper over their officiating disaster with this over-reaction.

    • @Benny There was no disaster the player moved the ball forward and it was 3rd and inches….Think about if for just a second and quit with changing the subject, coach Austin hit the ref intentional or not he did it, I have always taught my children to be responsible and in a fit of rage you are still accountable the rage can’t be an excuse…..duh!

      • How exactly was my comment “changing the subject”? The subject is Austin’s sideline suspension and the ramifications of it. In my opinion the obj conduct call on the field was appropriate for the inadvertent contact that it was and the CFL has overreacted in a major way. They prattle on about accountability but have shown none for themselves and their consistently sub-par officiating.

        I’m glad you raise your children well but that is completely irrelevant to the subject. Football is an entertainment business, not a your personal moral guide.

        Finally, your contention that the original penalty was justified is simply wrong. Repositioning the ball as Filer did (even if there were only inches to go) has no effect on the line of scrimmage. The sticks do not move, the quarterback does not move and all it does it lengthen the snap. It confers no advantage to the team whatsoever and should not have been penalized. There isn’t any serious football commentator or writer in this country that will defend that penalty. It was clearly wrong.

        • So how does football being an entertainment business relate to this conversation totally irrelevant. Austin was in a fit of rage and made contact with the official….end of story right? There is no overreaction he got fined and removed from the sidelines as punishment right? He is a repeat offender right? So instead of 5000.00 like last year they upped it to 10,000.00 so how is that an over reaction….lmao

        • BTW inadvertent contact as you say is not the way I view the replay, he was in a fit of rage and swiped at the official…Looked pretty intimidating to me.

          • “BTW inadvertent contact as you say is not the way I view the replay”

            Yeeesh, i’m glade you’re not a Judge.

            Regardless of what your personal feelings/biases are, the referee (and the league) didn’t feel it was intentional. If it was intentional the ref would have thrown Austin out of the game and the team would have gotten a 25 yard penalty….which didn’t happen.

      • Robin (from THE city) // September 30, 2016 at 12:44 pm //

        By your reply it appears that you have not taught your children to discuss things with others in a respectful and mannerly way..


        • and by your reply it appears that you are jumping to conclusions, what has been disrespectful about my comments..Robin why don’t you pipe in and let me know what was disrespectful in your eyes? I have said nothing other than my opinion so lets hear it Robin! Your actually being disrespectful by saying I have done something wrong but in reality your trying to protect a repeat offender I suspect.

        • @Hawks Austin is a repeat offender and having him waving his arms and ranting in front of me is not something I would feel is considered safe. Did you see the look on his face, he is a hot head and there are facts to prove that….give it up the league did the right thing except they should have suspended him completely for at least one game. Yeesh and I am glad your not a judge or it would be ok for Austin to have his rages and then pretend like he did nothing wrong….

  2. If Ticats win with Coach O as acting HC maybe his promotion should come sooner rather than later…

    Cheers… Snake

  3. The league has secretly arranged for Kent Austin to be privately secured in his bunker for his own safety because the fans will be outraged by this Calgary defeat.

    • Not a chance! First of all they won’t need picking up because we will be winning!
      Second, let’s all go back to positive. Let’s look hard: one is not the number of victories so far this year – it’s the number of points we are out of first! No disclaimers, please! One point, and back in first!!
      2016: The Year of the Cats!

  4. From Steve’s article”
    “Offensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer, who’s been a head-coach-in-waiting for a couple of years, will double up as sideline boss and will be in constant communication with Austin via one of the six headsets each CFL team is allotted”

    For those who know…Orlando is our Defensive Coordinator NOT our Offensive Coordinator. Does anyone re-read what the write anymore? I wish when I made these type of mistakes in my writing back in high school, it got over-looked by the English teacher

  5. I wonder if Austin will make himself available for post-game interview or whether he will leave that to Orlando as well?

  6. Go Cats!

  7. Just wondering of this one is gonna be worth 12 bucks a beer and sitting in the rain ???

    • Rain should be a blessing for the Cats … Could keep the Calgary lead in the game down to 20 points or less. Better hope for LOTS OF RAIN !!!

  8. Odd that the ti-cats ‘invisible’ offensive coordinator isn’t calling the plays. Not sure what he was hired for last year. What’s his name again?

  9. Stefan Ptaszek… Former HC at McMaster…. Very bright and successful coach in CIS…. Needs time to develop at pro level…

    Cheers… Snake

    • Then let him go somewhere ELSE to develop. The window for GC contender status is closing on the TC’s…they need a REAL OC, now…along with a plethora of other things.

    • Nice one Snake!
      Hard to know what to expect this game. An emotional classic perhaps where us fans even forget it’s raining…perhaps!

  10. Paul Bomber // September 30, 2016 at 9:28 am //

    New word from CFL: Whack a reg/potentially accidentally, one hand: Barred from the sidelines
    1 hand/not accidental: band from the stadium
    2 hands/accidental: band from the sidelines, can only use text messages to communicate with the sidelines.
    Punch a ref in the nose: 1 game/no communications, 1 game, text messaging to the sidelines only, but you have to watch the TSN feed from home.
    Kick the reg in the groan, hit him on the back of the head on the way down, 3 games, no communications, 1 game text/tsn feed and 1 more game from the spotters box, BUT you have to written notes given to another spotter who can relay messages.
    (CFL failed on this in every way, shape and form. I hope the refs figure out a way to call the league on this. Orridge has gotta go… it’s one idiot move after another with this joker who does NOT understand the game, the league or this country for that matter.)

  11. Every season has a defining game, and for the TC’s that game would be tommorow. Win, and it’s like a new season, you have beaten your nemisis, and sit there with a 7-7 record and 4 points from 3rd place (and most likely the Edmonton cross over). Lose, and you sit at 6-8, at peril to miss the playoffs, and for all intent and purposes your season is done. Somehow this meek, mild and fragile TC team must muster up the guts to beat the Stumps. A close loss and “moral victory” will not suffice here – it must be a clear knockout blow. For the long suffering TC fans (myself included) I hope they succeed. Oskee wee wee.

  12. Been viewing this game as a real measuring stick for some time. But after the week this has been?
    GAAAAME DAAAY! No Tasker, Owens or coach! Clg has lost 3 turnovers in last 6 games! Etc etc – perfect _ now we will restore a lot of other fan’s faith!
    2016: The Year of the Cats!

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