Ticats coaching staff has a history of big turnarounds

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats finished last season with a 10-game turnaround, going 6-4 after starting out 0-8.

But they still finished 6-12 and fans are looking for a significant reversal in the overall record in 2018. The good news, if it’s news, for them is that there’s a little historical karma leaning in their favour.

Depending upon the metrics you choose, the two greatest single-season turnarounds in NCAA Division 1 football history belonged to the 1999 University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the 2017 Fresno State Bulldogs.

Ticat head coach June Jones was the head coach of those ’99 Rainbow Warriors and new Ticat assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer was the defensive co-ordinator who strongly impacted the ’17 Bulldogs.

When Jones took over Hawaii for the 1999 season, they’d gone 0-12 under Fred Vonappen the previous year. They went 9-4, and won their first conference title and bowl game in seven years.

That 8.5 game turnaround (figure it out like baseball standings), is the largest in college history.

In 2016, Fresno State went 1-11 under two coaches. When Jeff Tedford, with Steinauer as his defensive co-ordinator, took over last season, they went 10-4, an 8.0 game improvement, and won, fittingly, the Hawaii Bowl, their first bowl victory in a decade.

They became just the second team in U.S. college history to leap from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in a single season.

The first was the Miami of Ohio Redhawks in 2010, who went 10-4 after a wretched 1-11 performance in 2009. But both the big-loss season and turnaround year were under the same coach, Michael Haywood.

Same when Lou Holtz transformed an 0-11 record at South Carolina in 1999 to 8-4 the next year. He was in charge of both Jekyll and Hyde, as was Elmer Burnham at Purdue when the Boilermakers made the first such graphic turnaround (1-8 to 9-0) in 1943.

Hawaii’s and Fresno’s stupendous single-season revivals took place under brand-new coaching staffs.

“It definitely is interesting that we’re both here now,” Jones said last week. “I think it’s kind of energized the locker-room, from what I hear from the players I’ve talked to.

“I followed Fresno and I realized they were on a quest to tie that record (of an 8.5 game improvement). I was kind of rooting for Orlondo, because Scott (Mitchell) and Kent (Austin) talked so strongly about him.

“I’ve been in this situation so many times I like where we’re at.”

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 (204 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.

33 Comments on Ticats coaching staff has a history of big turnarounds

  1. I was hoping the article would be about Ticat team turning around once they made a coaching change such as the change from 1997 to 1998.

    • yeppers, i was thinking that also. 2-16 to 12-5-1, with ron sr., danny mac and darren. we’ve made our own history too.
      2003 to 2004 was good too. 1-17 to 9-8-1.
      of course, extra karma helps …

    • Jeff May // March 7, 2018 at 2:51 pm //

      Mid-season coaching changes rarely have much success in football. The Ticats latter half in 17 was a testament to our new coach’s skills at turning around organizations, as it is rather rare.
      The best part is that it is not yet done, and @Mark’s hope for a story on Ticat turnarounds is still being written!

  2. Cal Gary Shampeders // March 7, 2018 at 10:19 am //

    You had me at “Ticats coaching staff has a history.”

    The Golden Girls will be entertaining to the rest of the league until they go down in flames.

    • I think you had those same illusions of Grandeur when your Stamps barely oozed out a 26-24 win in an upset game with a hot FG kicker named McLoughlin. You carried that into 1999.
      But in 99 we played with a little more authority for a 32-21 win. You learned to stop thinking that way.

    • Hey, Cal Gary Stumpy, has Tommie found his back back yet? Oh, sorry, he’s no longer on your team…have to ask an Al’s fan I guess.

  3. usually milton is not very optimistic when reporting on the ti-cats. we’ll see if history can repeat itself year over year. I think the team has alot of potential but the question mark I think will still be masoli, I’m rooting for the guy though. they can’t let the opening western swing worry them, go out there and prove you belong.

    • Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 3:01 pm //

      Other than a drop in Masoli’s INT numbers, he is consistent from his 2016 starts and 2017 starts.

      2016 had one more Eastern opponent than 2018’s start is going to have, over the first six games. 2016 also had only one fewer home game than 2018’s three at THF.

      So while I get that the lack of extended starts brings uncertainty – I am puzzled why the talk is as if Masoli had zero starts until 2017.

  4. Sea of Dead // March 7, 2018 at 11:12 am //

    It certainly is a ‘show-me’ season. We saw some turn-around in the 2H 2017. Need to see better than that in 2018 with all the hype going in and the improvement made by other teams in the division while the Cats basically stood pat with the same ‘one year older’ line-up and a ‘way older'(wiser??) coaching staff.

    • “Staying pat” with much the same lineup seems to have worked for the Stamps in giving them at least successful regular season games. Some of the Ticats free agents – like Dean, Tasker, Banks and Laurent – would have been highly sought after by other teams so I think re-signing your own who know the systems, most of the coaching staff and other players looks like a smart move to me. You also have to consider that the Ticats had a low number of potential free agents going in the the free agency period while almost every other team had at least 2-3 dozen thus had more decisions to make about re-signing or bringing in players from other teams. It is indeed a “show me” season – I do agree with you there. I for one am looking forward to it.

    • Oscar Wee Wee // March 7, 2018 at 2:24 pm //

      all you guys do is repeat repeat repeat the same old crap ya they didn’t pick up fa why would they when there roster was just as good Should we have gotten rid of banks ,Masoli Tasker Laurent dean then what go out and sign the same it makes no sense ,also we have a very good backfield with Leonard,Rogers,Unamba,Kennah,Stephens the Cats are in a much better position than you think are oline and dline have both improved a ton over the 2nd half of the season,we are more than ready for the season bring it on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Fans have short memories. The Cats’ power was based on three key players a young, dynamic quarterback Collaros,a powerful running back in Gable, and the inimitable Andy Fantuz.This player triumvirate lead to two Grey Cup appearances.

        The three super Cats are gone that were the foundation for the Cats’ winning success.With their absence, a fog has descended upon the future of the team. Minus the three giants, can the remaining players with help of a large number of coaches and a rookie quarterback be the new foundation for a Grey Cup ?

        All fans are hoping that the Cats will succeed but a winning strategy and the need for new Cat heroes, like Fantuz, to emerge out of the fog is a necessity for the team.Until then, doubt about the team will linger in the fog.

        • * Almost two Grey Cups.

        • Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 4:32 pm //

          Short enough that some claim a QB playing for the Argos during a Cat GC appearance year was somehow a key part of the “triumvirate” that lead to two GC appearances in 2013 and 2014. *grin*

          Is the theory that Argo QB Collaros, who I seem to recall was on the sideline – was really a double agent that helped the Burris lead Cats beat the Argos in the EDF to advance to the 2013 GC?

          This was the first of the Austin coached two GC appearances.

          Collaros, playing eight games of the regular season plus the playoffs was in the 2014 GC.

          For 2014, it seems ludicrous to claim Gable was key with all of 7 games played, 138 Rushing Yards and 224 Receiving yards. This is all well below the 2013 numbers. Grigsby, a late Oct signing played in the GC.

          2015 had Collaros dominating until his injury but Gable only played five games and Fantuz only 9 games (lowest numbers to that point in the Hammer).

          Fantuz was good in 2013 but due to injury, played less and less (2013 was 15 GP, 2014 was 13 GP and 2015 was 9 GP).

          While I love these guys – calling them “Super Cats” that “lead to two GC appearances” is at best, suspect.

          • Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm //

            As for the “rookie QB” … if you mean Manziel then I agree – though the signing as well as winning the QB role have to happen first.

            If you mean Mazoli, is something supposed to wipe out his previous 19 starts from memory?

            If all the confident predictions of an 0-6 start to the 2015 season didn’t bother him – why would the current predictions of 0-6 and 1-5 going to bother him?

          • Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 4:54 pm //

            Opps … the 0-6 predictions were for the 2016 season, not the 2015 season.

          • The three super Cats’ injury record meant that the three were seldom on the field at the same time.This could be the reason why Kent Austin failed to have a career with four Cup appearances. Austin himself declared that Collaros,Fantuz, and Gable would determine the future of the Club.Injuries unfortunately changed the fate of Austin’s success record.

          • So Collaros played in only 8 regular season games in 2014? Did you look that up, or have it stored in your own memory?

            (Note: the correct answer is … 13)

          • Cat Fan // March 8, 2018 at 9:36 am //

            For Collaros, I suspect I mixed up years as well as Games Started … thanks for the correction.

            Either way, the main point is that he didn’t play the entire season.

            BTW … the CFL stats lists for Collaros the 2013 as an Argo and 2017 as a Cat as the only two seasons so far he “played” 18 games. I seem to recall in both those seasons Collaros holding the clipboard through entire games so it can be murky.

    • Think they deserve one more shot based on the potential we saw at the end of last season. But if they falter hell yes, blow it up. Canuck fans here in LotusLand are still traumatized by the fact that the Sedins will never make it back to 2011, and should have blown the team up years ago.

  5. I’m concerned with their schedule at the start. There’s a 50/50 chance of going 0-5 which would be devastating for the season! I’m not a believer in Massoli so let’s hope he is the real deal! Oskee Wee Wee!

    • Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 3:07 pm //

      I hear you … though it was pretty much the same commentary leading into the 2016 season where Masoli had the first six starts (four of the six on the road).

    • Have faith my Wayner friend…they’ll start the season by kicking Stump ass…bet on it.

  6. We’ll see what the season brings, but plenty of reasons to be upbeat. Tough start, but you’ve gotta play ’em all. It’s how you finish that matters. Talent’s there for the most part. Still need a few pieces. Staff with lots of experience. We’ll see how it meshes, but plenty of reason to believe this is a contender!

  7. Cat Fan // March 7, 2018 at 5:32 pm //

    Re: Injuries to the Super Three Cats changed the fate of Austin’s success record

    Maybe … at the same time, in 2015 had the INT to kick a short FG worked out, the GC appearances would have been three with none of the big three available but having set the team up in a good position.

    I can’t help wonder what would have been different if Masoli had been given a shot earlier, if for nothing else than giving Mathews a chance to get a different view. It seemed equally obstinate to on one hand praise Masoli but on the other hand, refuse to play him in 2017.

  8. Hey Cal Gary ur stuck with Bo who can’t win the big games eg. Last two grey cups. He is too self centered not team player tries to b the hero all the time he chocks what a loser

  9. bigplay // March 7, 2018 at 6:39 pm //

    TC GOLD UR talking out of your ass again Bo already has a Grey Cup win and guess what it was against your kitty cats and I hardly think you can blame the fumble on Bo last year so he may have 2 and football is a team sport no wonder you are a Cat fan not to swift.

    • Garney26 // March 7, 2018 at 7:29 pm //

      Our Kitty Cats would have won that game if not for a League admitted marginal call so really Calgary fans should humble themselves. You have had one of the best teams in CFL memory but no finish. No one can argue that Bo Levi is one of if not the best player in the league but I agree his swollen head barely fits in his helmet. Football is a team sport not a me sport so like Hank Bo needs to learn that to be a great Pro.

  10. bigplay // March 7, 2018 at 8:35 pm //

    You Cat Fans are Hilarious (sore losers) but funny none the less,The league never admitted to a marginal call on that they stood behind that call 100%.There are lots of unfortunate calls the league has admitted to screwing up and the Cats have had more than there share I will give you that.I would drink a beer with anyone of you Cat Fans man would that be fun,F—ing Hilarious I tell you!

  11. canadianfootballfan // March 7, 2018 at 9:11 pm //

    The Ticats went from 3-15 in 1991, to 11-7 in 1992. All 3 wins in 91 came from new head coach John Gregory, who took over mid-season like June Jones.

    Lets hope 2018 has at least 11 wins like 1992 did!

  12. Perhaps the immortal Don McPherson is around too? Or Todd Dillon? LOL!

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