With the team at 0-6 and giving up a CFL-worst 39 points a game, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have made a change at defensive co-ordinator.
Sources say the 59-year-old Jeff Reinebold, known publicly for his colourful personality and ALL CAPS approach to social media, has been offered another position within the organization – likely helping newly-hired assistant head coach June Jones.
As of Monday night, the move had yet to be officially announced by the club but Reinebold confirmed his departure via a series of Tweets on Monday afternoon.
“TIME TO SAY ALOHA – TO EVERY PLAYER WHO GAVE SO MUCH … I LOVE YOU … LIKE WE TALKED ABOUT AFTER THE EE GAME – YOU WILL WIN BECAUSE OF THE KIND OF MEN YOU ARE – IT WAS A BLAST WAYCHING YOU GROW,” Reinebold Tweeted. “TO EVERY @Ticats WHO CHEERED SO LOUD MAHALO FOR AN AMAZING 5 YEARS.”
Team CEO Scott Mitchell Tweeted later Monday that the team was holding out hope that Reinebold would stay with the club in some capacity.
“Jeff is an outstanding coach and a terrific person. We are hoping he will stay with the organization. More to come we hope,” he wrote.
But an Instragram post from Reinebold Monday night indicates he’s headed back to Hawaii, where he spends part of the off-season.
Reinebold will be replaced by linebackers coach Phillip Lolley, who joined the Ticats this season after spending three years in Edmonton and Saskatchewan with Chris Jones (the two won a title together with the Esks in 2015.) Before coming to the CFL, the 63-year-old Alabama native spent more than a decade with the Auburn Tigers of the NCAA as both a defensive coach and front office staff member and was part of the 2011 national championship squad.
Sources said Lolley was a candidate for the defensive co-ordinator position in the off-season after the departure of Orlondo Steinauer but the job went to Reinebold, who had been with vice president of football operations and head coach Kent Austin since he arrived in Hamilton before the 2013 season.
Reinebold spent four largely successful seasons as the special teams co-ordinator, cooking up an array of blocks, rules-oriented gadget plays and helping facilitate the success of return man Brandon Banks, who was twice named the East Division’s Most Outstanding Special Teams player.
But the defence had struggled mightily under Reinebold’s direction. They are last in the CFL in points allowed (39.0 per game), net offence allowed (460 yards) and yards per play (7.5) and have given up 30 points or more in every game this season. The team is winless and coming off a two-game West Division road trip that included a 60-1 loss at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders.
While Reinebold certainly deserves a significant share of the blame for his unit’s performance, there are other factors as well. Defensive halfbacks Abdul Kanneh and Emanuel Davis, both all-stars last year, have missed most of the season, with Kanneh playing two quarters of football before suffering yet another injury. Other defensive stalwarts, including linebacker Simoni Lawrence and defensive end John Chick, have seen their production drop significantly so far in 2017.
Reinebold served as a receivers coach under Jones at the American college level so he could play a role in helping with his transition into the Ticats culture. But Reinebold also has opportunities outside of coaching: for the last several seasons, he has served as NFL analyst and podcaster for SKY Sports in the United Kingdom and the television network has asked him to expand his role in the past.
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