Milton: Steinauer leaves a long, lasting legacy on the Ticats

Through all that time – and it’s 20 years we’re talking here – the only other constant in the critical, but usually wobbly, southern Ontario football market has been Pinball Clemons.

And now, for the first time since Hamilton inherited him as a very raw second-year pro from the ridiculous and deservedly dead Ottawa RoughRiders in 1997, Orlondo Steinauer will not spend his working day within sight of Lake Ontario.

His move to Fresno State is our loss, equally as much as it is his gain and perhaps moreso.

Steinauer arrived in Hamilton in time for the second-worst season in franchise history: the 2-16 gang that couldn’t shoot straight. But they could do a few things and were building a defence which would be the backbone, along with Danny McManus, of the two Grey Cup-bound teams which would immediately follow. Steinauer, known in latter years as a safety, was a wide-side corner then and in his first Cat season intercepted seven passes, and inched that up to eight the following season, the best two stats years of his career. He had a Pick Six in each of his first three Cats seasons.

But he was always quick to point out, “Remember who was playing the other corner,” referring to the magnificent Eric Carter, “and they wouldn’t throw his way. So they came at me.”

That was the truth, but only part of it,  from Steinauer who rarely accepted accolades, and when he did, even as a nationally-praised defensive coordinator, he always spread them around. Some of the rest of the truth was that he was anticipatory, skillful at ball-arrival, fast and had a football mind that not even the best receivers could match. If you don’t believe that, trying figuring out the details of his Ticats defence, which often started slowly in a season, but usually peaked  later when it really mattered.

And if you think you have them figured out, which you really haven’t, trying explaining them. A couple of years ago it was mentioned to Justin Hickman – a defensive end, remember – that he had been 15 yards downfield when he had just missed making an interception. “The other guy back there with me was the other defensive end,” he pointed out, and then smilingly shrugged at Steinauer’s call.

And the quarterback still had to hurry the throw.

Steinauer played  for and coached both the Argos and Ticats  for significant stretches and not many people have done that.  He was sometimes criticized for preferring veterans over developing rookies but there was a root to that. The Argos won the 2004 Grey Cup because of such veterans, and his own playing career, which ended in 2008, was extended by at least a year because of his brain power, experience and his complete understanding of Rich Stubler’s complicated defences.  As a coordinator, he went on to out-complicate his teacher. But his players got it, if sometimes slowly, and when they did it was a thing of complex beauty.

Steinauer, like Clemons, has a youthful visage and mega-watt smile and was overtly positive, although not overly revealing in interviews and public appearances. But he cared about the development of the game in the GTHA and once you had gained his trust he was terrific off the record. Not to divulge secrets but to point you in the right direction with his hints, or to stop you from plunging headlong down the wrong road. In either case he was acting as a steward for the game, protecting it from harmful misinterpretation. That was very important in a fragile football market, which Hamilton was before the Young-Mitchell era. And Toronto has never been anything but fragile during Steinauer’s time in Canada.

The only time he didn’t play or coach either of the two ancient rivals was in 2009 when he worked at SportsNet and The FAN 590, where he was covering both of them.

He is not alone in this, but he has been an American who helped Canadians appreciate their own game.

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.
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (88 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.

22 Comments on Milton: Steinauer leaves a long, lasting legacy on the Ticats

  1. Lindsay Wilcox // December 18, 2016 at 11:36 am //

    He will be missed – as a coach and as a person.

  2. thomasammy8 // December 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm //

    Stay at home mom Kelly Richards from New York after resigning from her full time job managed to average from $6000-$8000 a month from freelancing at home… This is how she done

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.centerpay70.com

  3. Phil Nicholson // December 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm //

    Great article. We’ll miss him.

  4. No need to write his obituary. Steinauer is not going to a cushy situation. Fresno State intentionally overschedules and plays nationally ranked teams. With Fresno State having recruiting difficulties in the last few years, the results of such games is predictable. Things got so bad that they weren’t competitive in their own conference.

    Not saying Steinauer is not capable, but a good predictor for any success will be him and the coaching staff’s ability to get good players. Let’s face it. Being in the CFL for 20 years means nothing to American kids choosing a college.

    I hope Orlondo does well, but let’s face it. He could very well return to the CFL sometime in the next few years.

    • While I am all for keeping perspective … OTOH, Tedford has spent a fair amount of time coaching at Fresno State, has recruited players for Fresno that went onto the NFL (albeit for the offense).

      Tedford’s first job as HC was a Cal team that was coming off of a 1-10 season, with about an eight year run of losing seasons.

      OS being the CFL might not have any cachet with American high school prospects but that seems more than made up for by the boss having about nineteen years in the US college system, including a big turnaround for Cal.

  5. I met “Do” at a fast food restaurant in 99. He was chillin w Frank West. Awesome guy and very friendly. Him and EC were great together. He’s a better player then coach imo. Wish him luck 🙂

  6. Orlando will be missed and hopefully not judged by his last season in Hamilton.

  7. Bryan Hamilton // December 18, 2016 at 5:01 pm //

    It is too bad that he is leaving, but that is what pro sports is all about, leaving for ‘greener’ pastures and a new challenge! He was a very good safety/corner, and one fact not mentioned, excellent at special teams, I recall Orlando blocking more than a few punts! But we may also have a natural replacement in-house in Reinbold, who has done an excellent job with the ST, hope he gets rewarded with the DC position! Good luck Orlando, and thank you!

  8. Hans Viergever // December 18, 2016 at 5:02 pm //

    I’ve be3en puzzled a few years why Orlondo didn’t join Mike O’shea in Winnipeg….
    Great article as usual, Steve

    • ….because Orlando was under contract here and was not allowed to speak to other teams about openings.

      • Hans Viergever // December 19, 2016 at 12:04 am //

        So Orlondo had multi-year contracts? I thought all coordinators and their assistants had annual contracts. My bad, I guess

        • Not sure how you missed this … after all, it was widely circulated that Jason Maas had another year to go on his contract with the RedBlacks when Edmonton hired him as HC.

          It is even more puzzling as shortly after the Maas dustup, Noel Thorpe resigned from the Als with two years to go on his contract. He was rumoured to be trying to take a similar job with Edmonton.

          That’s two examples that were widely written about just last year.

          Most of the time, it is a one year contract where there is no previous experience. Once the coach has proven themselves, longer contracts are signed to prevent other teams from hiring for the same position.

          The part for OS’s contract that seemed rare to me was the “no discussions for bigger jobs” clause. Usually the coach is let out of their contract, if the offered position is an upgrade.

  9. barryhogan444 // December 18, 2016 at 9:57 pm //

    Stay at home mom Kelly Richards from New York after resigning from her full time job managed to average from $6000-$8000 a month from freelancing at home… This is how she done

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.centerpay70.com

  10. Excellent assessment Steve! Thanks.

  11. Good luck to Coach O. He’ll be back.
    Pinball for commissioner.

  12. janisortiz444 // December 19, 2016 at 4:51 pm //

    Stay at home mom Kelly Richards from New York after resigning from her full time job managed to average from $6000-$8000 a month from freelancing at home… This is how she done

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://www.centerpay70.com

  13. We will miss Coach O… but there will be a capable replacement… there always is…

    Not sure about Pinball for commissioner… but would like to see Jock Climie get the job… he knows and understands the CFL and he’s a lawyer so he brings passion, history and brains to the job… a few important credentials that Orridge is lacking…

    Cheers… Snake

  14. Phil Nicholson // December 20, 2016 at 6:00 am //

    Great suggestion snake…. I think Climie would be a great idea.
    On another issue, I read on Sun that Coach O will be making 400k a year; well above what he makes in the CFL making the move a no-brainer and therefore little to do with Austin 🙂

  15. Phil Nicholson // December 20, 2016 at 6:01 am //

    Great suggestion snake…. I think Climie would be a great idea.
    On another issue, I read in the Sun that Coach O will be making ~400k a year; well above what he makes in the CFL making the move a no-brainer and therefore little to do with Austin 🙂

  16. $400K USD equal to $540K CAD… pretty good incentive if you ask me…

    Cheers… Snake

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