New coach June Jones brings calm and confidence to Ticats

It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali

OTTAWA – This was the quote that Hamilton Tiger-Cats players found on the whiteboard when they arrived for practice on Thursday morning. Each day, new head coach June Jones writes out a different nugget of wisdom and asks players to copy it into their notebooks.

It’s a small thing but one of many minor changes Jones has made as he attempts to turn around a team that was winless when he took over from Kent Austin on Aug. 24. With more than 30 years of coaching experience that includes head coaching stints in the NFL and with major U.S. college programs, Jones has learned culture is key.

“Whenever you come into situations that are upside down, creating the chemistry and creating a new belief system is what turns things around,” Jones said. “You have to put your stamp on it and get everybody realizing that it matters. It’s not just the Xs and Os, it’s the other stuff is what makes good teams great.”

Jones has lengthened the on-field practice sessions as he’s installed a new offensive system and he’s also increased the reps between the first team offence and the first team defence. He meets with the team, albeit briefly, after almost every on-field session. And he’s been open and honest about the limitations of his CFL knowledge, which includes one season as a player and another as an assistant coach in Ottawa more than two decades ago.

“He asks us for our input and that’s the first time I’ve experienced something like that. He really wants to know what the players think about certain things, he’s not just a dictator,” said veteran defensive back Emanuel Davis. “It’s been a shock to see a guy who has been around football so long still asking other people what they think. I’m happy to be playing for a guy like that.”

The Ticats are coming off their first win of the season on Labour Day against the Toronto Argonauts and will face a Redblacks team on Saturday that has won three straight games. An Ottawa win – and they are 11-point favourites at home – would give them the season series against Hamilton and further dent the Ticats’ already faint playoff hopes.

But they are, believe it or not, still thinking post-season. While no team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-8 (or 0-7 for that matter) one of Jones’ subtle messages has been this team’s ability to make history should they find a way into the Grey Cup tournament.

Brandon Banks, who is enjoying a larger role in the offence under Jones, talked about the restorative powers of just one victory.

“It was like a relief, like everything was off our shoulders. We just had to break through that first wall and know we’re trying to build off it, put a historical comeback together,” Banks said. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of history? It’s what you live for, it’s what you play for. Man, if we turn this around, what better story could you be a part of?”

To continue the fairy-tale script, Hamilton will have to put the brakes on a white-hot Ottawa offence, led by former Ticat Greg Ellingson. The CFL’s leader in receiving yardage, Ellingson had two decent seasons in Hamilton but fell out of favour with the coaching staff and ultimately signed with Ottawa where he’s blossomed into one of the league’s best.

“The first year I was here, there was a little element of revenge but since then it’s just been about trying to contribute to my team,” Ellingson said. “Maybe deep, deep down there’s still a little something. But things have worked out and it’s a great feeling to have everyone in the front office and the coaching staff believe in you.”

Right now, Jones is trying to get the Ticats to believe in each other. The plan is to take care of business at home – Hamilton still has four games at Tim Hortons Field – win their inter-divisional games and steal a couple on the road. Unlikely, yes; impossible, no.

“Success is a formula and it’s not rocket science. You just look at what other people have done and why they are the best they can be,” Jones said. “If you can emulate that, then you’ll take your game to another level and that’s what we try to do.”

Sounds like good white board material.

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 (1397 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.

19 Comments on New coach June Jones brings calm and confidence to Ticats

  1. No matter if Jones comes away with a miracle or not he seems to have restored locker room faith . You can’t put any blame on him if they don’t make it he was thrown into Austin’s mess .hoping they can snatch a victory tonight it’s gonna take a flawless game and and little luck

  2. It sounds like June Jones is just what this team needs.

  3. Billinburlington // September 9, 2017 at 9:32 am //

    I was skeptical regarding how much of a difference the coaching change would make- I think Austin is (still) a good coach. However, this article for me goes far to explaining Jones’ coaching philosophy for this team at this time, and how his influence is positively impacting the players’ mindset. Will be interesting to see how the game goes tonight in Ottawa.

  4. The Ticats can definitely wiln this game. I hope that Masoli comes out on his game. If Masoli is off, I hope that Jones will not hesitate to put Collaros in this game. Since he has been a Ticat, Collaros has faced Ottawa only once which was our last game against them. Ottawa is fearful of a Collaros who is on top of his game. I think that by Zach will have shaken the cobwebs off. Ryker Mathews insertion led to improved offensive line play last week. I hope there is no hestitation in putting Zach in as if we pull this game off, and with the games in hand, we not only will have a playoff shot, we will be back in the first place talk. Team is going to get even stronger over the next couple of weeks with Andy coming back. Play to win . I have a really good feeling about inserting Collaros into this game. Good to hear that Jones has reinserted positive tones within the Ticat dressing room.

  5. Sounds to me, that Austin lost the locker room, and respect of his players. These men are professional football players, and no need to single out, and yelled at on sidelines when something goes wrong. Austin had problems controlling his own emotions and discipline. Read between the lines, in this article, Emanuel Davis stated June Jones isn’t a dictator? Was Austin just too arrogant and listened to nobody, but himself? Of course we (as fans) are not privy to that. Seems Jones gives a new a direct perspective to the coaching situation. Already made changes in the offensive playbook, since his short time here. Why Banks was not be utilized more? Austin said he was protecting and preserving him, because of his size. Jones seems to use his speed in a different way, he hasn’t been successful on P/KR’s to inserts him to WR, thus player of the game with 13 targets, and almost 100 yards receiving and a TD. (last game) Whether Ti-Cat’s “lucked” out last game, or got help from some officiating calls, that went in Ti-Cat’s direction (for a change) June Jones inserting Masoli and giving Collaros a much needed “sit out” something Austin wouldn’t consider, even after 11 straight losses. June Jones at least made these and more changes to come. It’s what the doctor ordered. Let Kent Austin concentrate on his other duties, as IMO he was “wearing too many hats”.

    • Excellent analysis. Many of us posters have been aware that something was very wrong with the team. But to his credit, Austin had the good sense to know he was no longer effective and stepped down.
      June Jones may just be the morale-boost this team needs to get through the rest of this season with their heads held high.Regardless of where they end up in the standings.

      • You’ve been bad mouthing Austin forever.

        You don’t have the objectivity to know what the analysis should be for this team.

        You wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the head.

        • Tiger man: Not forever. Mostly since last season. And I gave him credit for stepping down. It wasa gutsy move. Many of us posters knew Austin’s plan was not working and said so. He knew he was not getting the best from his players when he took himself our of the HC job. So we were right. Do you disagree with him?
          Unless you missed the last two games, these same players now look like winners. What objectivity standard and “truth” are you using after what has happened this past two weeks? Please respond. Thanks.

          • On an earlier post, you couldn’t even name the coaches to what they ACTUALLY do on this team.

            And now you’re claiming all this wisdom??

            Every once in a while a blind dog finds the bone….

        • This sounds familiar. I know who you are. You would rather attack other posters than contribute to the discussion. Have a nice day.

  6. E Davis said “he really wants to know what players think, he’s not just a dictator”. Read between the lines and I think you can see what the players thought of Kent Austin.

    And while the quotes are nice and team culture is important, it doesn’t make up for lack of talent and feankly, Hamilton’s talent is lacking. I expect Ottawa to beat them handily

    • Based on the half time score, it does not look like either team got the memo.

    • Richard: When will guys like you ever learn? NEVER make predictions like this. Ever. Because of what happened yesterday in Ottawa. You can never tell.
      And ….if any team looked like it “lacked talent”, you would have to look at Ottawa. They did not have a good day.But that could change quickly too.

  7. It is interesting that we move out a QB who was slow delivering the ball and suddenly the untalented O-line instantly becomes more talented. The offence was brutal because Collarus was brutal and playing not to get hurt. No edge. Those calling for Collarus to be re-inserted are totally off-base. Stop talking about the Ti-Cats lack of talent. We still field talented players in spite of the fact that we have so many injured, talented players. If Austin hadn’t been so stubborn leaving Collarus in the Ti-Cats would have a far better record.

  8. Lindsay Wilcox // September 9, 2017 at 8:26 pm //

    Where are all the commenters who wanted the Ticats to get rid of Banks and Gable ?
    And most of Masoli’s passes have been perfect rainbows or bullets.

  9. 2-0. Hand it to Kent for stepping aside. They won’t run the table but it looks like a different team. The crazy thing is that they can still make the playoffs.

  10. he’s not just a dictator,” THat there tells why they Quit playing for Austin

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