Soon-to-be-ex Ticats offensive co-ordinator Stef Ptaszek open to McMaster return

By Scott Radley, The Hamilton Spectator

Stefan Ptaszek shocked a lot of people a year-and-a-half ago when he suddenly ended a successful run as head coach of the McMaster Marauders to join the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as offensive co-ordinator.

Now he might be about to shock people again because he says he’d be open to returning to the school.

“Yes,” the 46-year-old says, “I would work there.”

In fact, he says he sent an email to director of athletics Glen Grunwald, assistant AD Mark Alfano and head football coach Greg Knox on Monday to re-introduce himself and let them know he could be available.

Before anyone sees this as him quitting on the Canadian Football League or firing the first shot in a coup d’etat of the current regime — neither are true — some context and background is required.

While Ptaszek says he’s enjoyed working as offensive co-ordinator of the Ticats and would certainly love to return, he’s also a realist. With everything that happened this year, there will be changes. Meaning when his deal expires on Dec. 31, he might be out of work. No hard feelings, no grudges. That’s football.

The trouble is, if he waits until then (or longer) for the Ticats’ brass to decide on his future all the scarce university coaching jobs that open after the season ends could be filled, leaving him without work.

“We have to feed our families and Jan. 1, we need gainful employment,” he says.

So he isn’t waiting idly for something to happen. The Dundas resident who’s won the Vanier Cup as a player, an offensive co-ordinator and a head coach has already reached out to a number of Ontario schools to let them know he’d be interested in chatting to see if there’s a role for him. He says he will touch base with others if need be.

One of those places loaded with good friends — despite his sudden departure, he left on excellent terms — is McMaster.

“I have no agenda when I’m reaching out to Mac,” he says. “I’m just saying ‘hi’ and letting them know I need a job.”

No sooner does he say this than he begins to explain a few things.

He insists he’s not gunning for head coach Greg Knox’s job. The two are good friends and together helped take the Marauders to three Vanier Cups. He believes he could absolutely work under Knox this time in a reversal of roles.

“I’m not trying to take anyone’s job,” Ptaszek says. “I don’t want to trigger any changes.”

In fact, he says he doesn’t need to be a head coach. If he felt the situation was right he’d be open to coming back in a hybrid position combining football and something else on campus. At Mac or elsewhere. He could see himself working on the offence while also holding a job in student affairs or advancement or even in some other area to build a resume toward an administrative career someday. Maybe even as a future director of athletics.

When he was head coach of the Marauders, he used his masters of finance degree to teach academic courses. So it’s not a massive stretch.

“It’s Coach Knox’s program,” Ptaszek says. “I’m not asking to change anything about Mac.”

With that willingness to accept something less than the top job, he will surely attract interest quickly somewhere. You’d think many OUA schools would be interested in grabbing a guy like him. Especially with his resume now-accentuated by what he’s learned over two years in the pros.

Including Mac, for whom a return could be terribly intriguing.

Under Knox — a guy the defensive players affectionately call a mad scientist — the D was terrific as it always is. Championship quality, for sure. Trouble was, the offence never really get rolling. Ptaszek has already shown he can operate that part of the game and now has broader experience thanks to his time in the pro ranks.

“There’s infinitely more tools in my tool box,” he says of what he gained by working with coaches Kent Austin and June Jones.

As the conversation with a writer ends, he tugs a Marauders toque onto his shaved head. Then as he stands to leave, the McMaster shorts he’s wearing emerge from behind the table.

His wardrobe is still heavy on the maroon. It seems like a piece of his heart might be, too.

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15 Comments on Soon-to-be-ex Ticats offensive co-ordinator Stef Ptaszek open to McMaster return

  1. RalphInTheCreek // November 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm //

    Good luck to Stefan no matter what direction he heads in.

  2. Mac needs a boost on offence. Sounds like a fit to me .

  3. Mosca Wee Wee // November 7, 2017 at 6:15 pm //

    JJ brought in his own guy with Morrison. He’s likely to get the promotion either way.

  4. Why the hell he was brought to the TiCats I will never know. Good thing his salary didn’t count against the cap.

    • Don’t underestimate his value to the Ticats – especially after JJ took over as SP was responsible for “translating” JJ’s play concepts into language that the players knew. Good luck to him whether he remains with the team or returns to the college ranks to coach!

    • Simple … Austin wanted an OC he could dictate to on short notice. It would keep his offense his – with the same issues as when Condell was OC.

  5. Sounds like a pro coach looking to get back into college ball. June Jones certainly understands his logic since he did the very same thing after being in the CFL/NFL for a few years as a HC and OC.

    • Not sure he cares pro or college so much as he can see that with Morrison being brought in, a role for him is not likely.

  6. I’ve never fully understood Ptaczek’s role with the team anyway. He may have been called the offensive coordinator, but he certainly didn’t have the freedom to call the plays under KA. If all he’s doing for JJ is translating the plays while Jones learns terminology, that sounds like a “Temp” job at best. He’s probably wise to beat the bushes for a job now. I’m sure he can tell the way the wind is blowin’! Perhaps it’s another sign of KA’s micromanaging. No point in hiring coaches if you don’t give them some freedom and autonomy, and are looking over their shoulders all the time.

    It’s another area where the Cats are top-heavy. They’ve got JJ, Morrison, (the QB coach), Ptaczek, and Corey Grant. Which also begs the question, if you don’t sign JJ for next year, Morrison won’t be back either, and he seems to have had an effect on Masoli’s game, especially in the TD to interception ratio, where Masoli is among the best in the league the last half dozen games.

    • Under Austin, he was supposed to become an Austin offense expert that would stick to the plan. Under JJ, I believe he has done more than translate the terminology but while likely he has a bit more freedom, it is not that much.

      A key point is Morrison. The press release at the time is that Morrison is OC *and* QB coach.

      Beating the bushes for other opportunities IMO is smart as even if Jone is not back, nothing says the new HC (unless it is Austin again) will prefer him over some other guy that the HC is used to.

  7. Another of the Boy Genius’s blunders. The sooner he’s history the sooner this team moves forward. This is not a reflection on Coach Ptaszek or his abilities. He was brought in under the false pretense that his job would be a promotion and an introduction to the professional ranks when that was never the intention. Austin was never going to give up control of anything, let alone the offense, as he still does to this day. If he bones up the June Jones hiring I quit.

    • Billinburlington // November 8, 2017 at 10:27 pm //

      I seem to have heard this line of thought before – KA refused to give up control. I Agree that it seems SP never got a chance to put his mark on the OC role . This might be one reason Tommy Condel left the team.

      Everyone was asking for a run game… which is started only after JJ toook over from KA. Wonder how much SP pushed for the run game? I bet a lot.

      Collaros would have performed much better with the opposition needing to protect against the pass and the run game. KA’s stubbornness allowed opposing teams to know only the pass was happening, so they simply pressured Collaros constantly, which wore down the offensive line and had zack running for his life.

  8. The Iceman // November 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm //

    Not sure if Jones used Stef much with the Cats. If he did I would expect that he would be rehired. If as it appears not it was a terrible waste of Canadian Football knowledge the Cats had available to them.

    • The bigger waste IMO is if Ptaczek was forced to fit the Austin offense mould that was pass happy and run shy. I recall the Laurier and Mac teams having run games so it seems likely.

      I am not sure Jones skipping Ptaczek for the 2018 staff tells us much beyond that Jones figures his coaching choices can become proficient through the off season/training camp. Jones may value their familiarity with his system more.

  9. Another example of the Ti-Cats having no class. Clean house at all levels and keep someone classy like Ptaszek. For those clamouring for Jones’ return he benefited from NO expectations, and a weak schedule. Additionally, the team lost key games it needed to win through utter and absolute idiocy. Everyone should go.

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