Butler gets recognition as Ticats coaching staff rounded out

It appears that Craig Butler, an intelligent and hard-nosed safety during his recently-ended playing career, has a bright future as a professional football coach.

Butler, who missed all of 2016 with injury, retired from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and pro football early last September and joined the team’s revamped coaching staff not long after June Jones replaced Kent Austin leading into Labour Day against Toronto.

When the Ticats released their 2018 coaching staff roster Thursday, Butler was listed as defensive assistant and “special teams.”

Since there is no formal special teams coordinator on the staff, the 29-year-old London native is likely the de facto coordinator. But since he’s young and less than a full year removed from his playing career, Butler will be assisted by a veteran group comprising, but likely not exclusive to: new assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer, whose return from Fresno State was announced last week; new defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville; and Dennis McKnight who was the 2017 special teams coordinator but will be the offensive line coach in 2018.

Butler will also be position coach for the safeties.

“Craig is going to be the one to do all the film work and he’ll take the specific special teams, say, kickoff,” Jones told The Spectator. “Each position coach will have one or two of the teams, like field goal protection, or kickoff return.

“Craig basically took two or three of those teams last year working with Dennis. I watched how he coached and liked it.”

Dennis McPhee—the Hamilton native always popular with the players and in the community–retains his position as defensive line coach. This will be his 16th season on the Ticats staff in the last 24 years, including five straight heading into 2018.

Stoney Creek native Corey Grant returns as running back coach and has been given an upward bump, adding “assistant offensive coordinator” to his portfolio. Jones is offensive coordinator as well as head coach.

William Fields, who was an assistant on defence and special teams last year also has a promotion: he’ll be the defensive backs coach with responsibility for the four “outside” positions in the secondary: halfbacks and cornerbacks.

Ottawa native Jarryd Baines returns as offensive quality control coach and will also add the assistant wide receivers coaching job to his duties.

Dan Morrison, who joined Jones’ staff in early October and had a definite positive effect on Jeremiah Masoli’s performance, returns as quarterback coach.

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.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (244 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.

19 Comments on Butler gets recognition as Ticats coaching staff rounded out

  1. I was sorry to see Craig retire so young, he was a stud in Sask. Hopefully he has a long successful coaching career.

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  2. Bruce Forsythe // March 2, 2018 at 7:20 pm //

    Butler was a huge bust in Hamilton as a player. Hopefully he’ll find more success as a coach.

    • Think he had some good moments…and tough moments…but yeah, never quite was the same player he was when he played for Saskatchewan.

    • Not a bust during his first and second seasons. Until he was hurt seriously, he was worth the signing.

      Hope he emerges as one of the CFL’s younger coaching talents.

  3. Jerimiah was a Bull Frog // March 2, 2018 at 7:24 pm //

    Craig was never the same after he left SK. Don’t take what I write here just go look at his stats. He never played another 18 games season. after he won an amazing Grey Cup with the Riders at Mosaic stadium 2013.
    In 3 seasons in SK Craig played 53 games and averaged 43 tackles a season. Craig was a player for 4 seasons in Hamilton. Played 34 games and averaged 21 tackles a season. Sometimes a player leaves the team that drafted them too soon. I believe that was the case with Craig.
    Ironically Andy Fantuz also won a Grey Cup with SK and would have won 2 if he’d stayed a Rider. Both Andy and Craig suffered numerous injuries playing for Hamilton.

    • You can play with averages, but during the two seasons he was active for the majority of games (2014-15) he had 42 and 40 tackles, plus 4 sacks in the second. 2016 was a write-off, as was most of 2017.

      The issue wasn’t leaving Sask too soon. It was being hurt.

      Fantuz had nearly as many yards and TDs in a Ticat uniform as he did in Rider green, with a similar spread of production across each season (including injuries).

      • You are correct.

        Butler was a legit NI difference maker with both Regina and Hamilton. He played through a partially torn ACL in 2015 and still managed to earn CFL all star safety. Unfortunately, playing thrrough the injury in 2015 cost him his career. Two off season surgeries failed to repair his knee and he played only two more games.

        It’s asinine to lable a league all star who’s career ended that year a “bust”. It’s as ignorant and clueless as proclaiming Bo Jackson – – the greatest athlete in the history of sports – – a “bust” because his career was cut short by a freak injury.

  4. Scottsask // March 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm //

    I’ll never forget the hit he put on Buck Pierce blitzing from the edge. He was my favourite player as a Rider, I was upset to see him go, but I can’t blame him for wanting to play closer to home. Best of luck in the coaching ranks Craig.

  5. mr62cats // March 2, 2018 at 11:06 pm //

    One door closes and another one opens.
    Looks like you could be in for some great opportunities in the coaching ranks.Good luck Craig.

  6. Finally a decent coaching hire for the TiCats.

    Not only was Butler an impact player on defence, he also balled on on ST. He should have a good understanding of how to run a robust ST unit.

  7. mr62cats // March 3, 2018 at 7:03 am //

    Area51: Why do you need “finally” in your comment? From what I can see, this team has assembled a competent coaching staff for the 2018 season.
    June Jones is a good short term fix as HC. Orlondo Steinauer and Dennis McKnight and their assistants look like good coaching prospects for the future. No-one can predict how this coming season will end up but are you saying Butler is the only member of the coaching staff who has any value?

  8. grnrider // March 3, 2018 at 9:43 am //

    I watched Craig play for the Riders and he was an awesome player. I was really sorry when he signed w/Hamilton but I also understood him wanting to be close to home.
    Knowing the type of player he was, I believe that he’ll also be a fantastic coach & may very well work his way up the ranks quickly.
    Wish him all the best.

    • Classy comment grnrider!

      I’ll miss seeing Butler on the field – he was a beast when he did play – but I’m glad he’s remaining in black and gold only with a different role! No doubt he’s a very talented guy who’s career unfortunately has been shortened by injury.

  9. Alex Droho // March 5, 2018 at 11:28 am //

    Great to see Butler remaining with Cats. Always like to see a young Canadian get a chance.

  10. @mr62cats – – let’s take a look at some of the terrible coaching hires by the TiCats over the past year.
    Stef Ptaszek – – hopelessly over his head as an OC at the pro level. He’s a CUS coach at best.
    Dennis McKnight – – failure as ST coordinator, demoted to OLine coach.
    Jerry Glanville – – embarrassingly bad hire. How desperate do you have to be to hire a 76 year old career loser who’s been out of football for nearly three decades?
    Orlondo Steinauer – – a total weasel who backstab and baglick to climb the coaching ladder.

    • mr62cats // March 5, 2018 at 1:40 pm //

      Area51: You need to give us a source for your accusations about Orlondo Steinauer.

  11. Did you not see his “gee, gosh, golly” act when he was gunning for the HC job in Hamilton? Then when he couldn’t overthrow Austin, he ran off to hide in the NCAA.

    A year later and he’s back to try and weasel his way into power with the TiCats.

    • mr62cats // March 5, 2018 at 9:49 pm //

      Nope. Guess I missed that. All I saw was that the players responded well to him and he got results before being snapped up by Fresno State where he excelled.

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