Why Orlondo Steinauer is leaving the Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Orlondo Steinauer’s departure from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is hardly surprising and yet it came as a shock, even to him.

The 43-year-old was hired as the defensive coordinator of Fresno State, a NCAA Division 1 FBS school based in California on Wednesday after four seasons in the same role with the Ticats. It was a whirlwind courtship that started when newly-hired Bulldogs head coach Jeff Tedford – a former B.C. Lions head coach and Ticat quarterback – asked for permission to speak to Steinauer a few weeks ago.

“It came out of the blue. Our body of work is pretty good but it just doesn’t happen like this,” Steinauer said. “I see this as a different challenge. There are nine opportunities up in here while there are unlimited opportunities in the United States.”

Steinauer’s name has come up for virtually every CFL head coaching vacancy the last three seasons and with vice president of football operations and head coach Kent Austin entrenched in Hamilton – he signed a four-year contract extension before last season – Steinauer’s departure has felt inevitable. But to get a call from a Tedford, a man who knew him strictly by reputation, is a testament to how hot a commodity Steinauer had become.

“I’d like to think I earned this opportunity,” Steinauer said. “This wasn’t a connection where I’ve known Jeff for ten years and we’re on each other’s Christmas card list.”

A changing-of-the-guard among CFL head coaches also left Steinauer in something of a quandary. Between his 13-year playing career and time in the coaching ranks, Steinauer has personal a relationship with a number of his contemporaries, making his status as a head coach-in-waiting somewhat awkward.

“I consider Dave Dickenson a good friend. Same with Scott Milanovich and Jason Maas. Wally Buono has been a great mentor to me,” Steinauer said. “In order for me to get an opportunity, they have to fail and that’s kind of a weird feeling for me personally.”

Instead, he’ll join the ranks of the colossus known as American college football with 128 teams in the FBS tier alone. Fresno State isn’t quite in the same class as monster programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan – the Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban makes $7 million a year – but it’s certainly a well-known, well-respected program.

In addition to virtually infinite college and pro coaching possibilities, Steinauer will make more money than he did in Hamilton, get paid in American dollars and enjoy the security of a pension – something CFL coaches aren’t afforded.

Still, Steinauer says he would have happily returned to the Ticats next season: he’d quietly signed an extension that would have seen him return as defensive coordinator had a CFL head coaching job of an opportunity of this magnitude failed to materialize.

“I don’t want Hamilton to think I’m choosing Fresno over anything,” Steinauer said. “I would have been excited about coming back here in 2017.”

Experience at an elite NCAA school will only enhance his resume when a CFL vacancy inevitably opens up. Steinauer and his family will ultimately move to California to become a part of the community there but they plan to keep their Ontario home

“I’m not closing the door on anything,” Steinauer said. “Canada has given us every opportunity so we’re extremely grateful.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1392 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

12 Comments on Why Orlondo Steinauer is leaving the Hamilton Tiger-Cats

  1. So happy for Orlando for this opportunity for him and his family.
    It remains to be seen what the Ticats will make of this situation.
    Hmmm I expected to see more reaction here on 3Down Nation
    I’m sure there will be some yay and nay sayers here soon. Seems there was some moderate negativity towards the Defensive crew this past season, notwithstanding the injuries
    Many thanks and Good luck and good fortune in your new position Orlondo.

  2. Jim Bentley // December 15, 2016 at 6:21 pm //

    What a class act! His comments about the move and his time in the CFL are so genuine and heartfelt not like so many manufactured comments that seem to be the norm these days. Whenever I have attended practices he would always give me a warm greeting and a genuine smile. You can’t help but feel good about such a man. I wish him all the good fortune that he so richly deserves, the TiCat Nation will not only miss the coach but the man Orlondo Steinauer.

  3. Glen Maskerine // December 15, 2016 at 7:18 pm //

    Haven’t we all known this day was coming sooner than later? Coach Steinauer wasn’t going to stay a non-head coach in the CFL for long. He and his wife are outstanding people, parents, coaches, and ambassadors of their respective sports. Good luck to him and hopefully the door will be open should the opportunity to return to Tigertown presents itself.

    • It is a sideways move, albeit one with a lot more opportunities.

      While I am confident OS will be a HC, he new job is the same as the old job (i.e. DC). Fresno State already has a HC in Tedford.

      As for the road from there … who knows?

  4. This was a really good article. Good work Drew.

  5. Just one smart dude.

  6. Sunshine and warm weather all year round. More money. A pension plan. Unlimited opportunities at the college and NFL levels.
    It’s a classic no-brainer.
    Best to you Orlondo and thanks for the great playing and coaching. The CFL has been the better for it.

  7. Rich Wilson (richinbanff) // December 16, 2016 at 12:01 am //

    Too bad. He’s too talented to ever come back. CFL lost one of their best today.

  8. It’s a big loss for the team but I do wish him well in this move and future endeavours. Maybe he’ll come back to the CFL about the time Austin decides to hang up his coaching hat and Steinauer can take over as HC here. 🙂

  9. thomasammy8 // December 18, 2016 at 12:39 pm //

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  10. I really think that clears the air without doubt or creating malice but the TC’s have lost a good man while the obvious problem remains. Too many unsaid positions about the CFL’s nine level oppourtunities which is both smart and guarded. I hope the CFL survives the BC loss of empties and the Argo crazies, which leads us to Montreal. We have been there before and seen that!

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