With Austin out, Ticats to go with “collaborative effort” in front office

With Kent Austin no longer serving as primary decision maker, team CEO Scott Mitchell said final authority on football operations will be spread among front office and coaching personnel, including head coach June Jones.

General manager Eric Tillman, assistant general manager and director of football operations Shawn Burke, and assistant general manager and director of Canadian scouting Drew Allemang all remain with the organization but none of the trio has final say.

“The two things we’re focused on is the draft and the roster,” Mitchell said Thursday night after news Austin was stepping down as vice president of football ops was announced. “The draft is going to be run by Drew Allemang with input from everybody and as far as the composition of the roster, that will be June.”

Mitchell said that putting together the coaching staff and re-signing the team’s big-name players were the off-season priorities and Austin was able to execute those tasks.

Austin was at the helm while the team re-signed Jones in December and inked a number of high-profile pending free agents including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, receivers Brandon Banks and Luke Tasker as well as linebacker Larry Dean and defensive tackle Ted Laurent.

“Where we are right now, most of the hay is in the barn in terms of the big decisions that need to be made, now it’s about the competition in training camp. June will make those decisions in terms of the composition of the roster,” Mitchell said. “The ongoing personnel decisions will be a collaborative effort between Eric, Shawn and Drew in conjunction with others.”

Mitchell confirmed that Tillman was not “in charge” of football operations and that assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer will also play a role.

“Orlondo will have a great opportunity to have a leadership role both in the coaching staff and as a conduit between the staff and the personnel folks,” Mitchell said.

Austin will remain as a consultant with the club and Mitchell said he will continue to be the Ticats point of contact in the Johnny Manziel negotiations.

Mitchell said he does not expect the current front office structure to change for the duration of the 2018 season.

Mitchell said Austin’s role has been under review since he stepped down as head coach after an 0-8 start last season. Austin has said he prefers coaching and there were reports this winter that he was pursuing opportunities that would get him back on the side line.

“Kent and I have had a lot of discussions about this and we had a lot of discussions about this going back to the mid-way point of last season,” Mitchell said. “Kent’s always been focussed on the success of the organization but I think he wants to look at where he wants to be in the future. This allows him to contemplate that.”

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.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1492 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.

42 Comments on With Austin out, Ticats to go with “collaborative effort” in front office

  1. Scottsask // April 12, 2018 at 8:26 pm //

    There’s a lot of cooks in this kitchen, so who is the head chef? I don’t see this ending well.

  2. Ticats will have a disastrous season ! Very tough schedule to start the season will not help this 6 win season !

    • YUP ! the wheels are falling off already !

    • First order of the day will be to beat some Stump ass in Stumpland…and end 13 years, and counting, of misery. In Masoli We trust.

    • Too bad what happens on the field sets the results into of the predictions.

      If it was the other way round, the Cats would have been in the playoffs far more often!

      Until the games are in the books – it is all speculation so I’m not about to plan the GC parade or be depressed yet.

  3. When will all this dysfunction stop,not until Scott Mithcell is gone!

  4. Gerald Fildebrandt // April 12, 2018 at 8:41 pm //

    I think Austin was spread far to thin last year with all those responsibilities, He stepped aside as head coach and concentrated on other things. I personally think he is leaving the Ticats in a better position today than it was over the last few years. If he goes back to coaching, thats all he should do and not make the same mistake again. I wish him well. I think the Ticats wil do well this year, I’m a life long Argo and a season ticket holder for the Red Black.

    • Puck hog // April 12, 2018 at 8:49 pm //

      Totally agree, Gerald. Austin will end up somewhere and be successful as a head coach – as long as that is all he does. I wish him well.

    • … and the year before.

      Throw in his refusal to run (which other team fans commented they were grateful for) and part of the “better position” IMO are because of things like a more balanced offense etc.

      Don’t get me wrong … I wish him well plus think he can do well – I am not under the illusion that the issues are a “last year” only or just being spread thin.

  5. Both Larry’s are silly talkers !

  6. OldBaldGuy // April 12, 2018 at 8:53 pm //

    Agree with Scottsask. One less cook in a still crowded kitchen. If things go south that puts Mitchell in the gunsights. Still think you need one person to pull the trigger on issues rather than a “collaborative” team.

    • At work – both types have worked spectacularly well, both have been so-so and both have been unmitigated disasters at various times.

      A lot depends on those directly involved.

  7. Most of you should put your resumes in for the job…. by the sounds of it most of you can do it better than the men doing it now lol

    • You can’t be serious with that comment. It’s football, not rocket science – – they’re not splitting the atom, they’re not curing cancer.

      In any other private industry, incompetent buffoons such as this would have been fired long ago. But in the fantasy world of pro football, nepotism and the buddy system means proven failures get recycled again and again.

      • You mean like the private industry guy who was billing 120 hours of OT worked (i.e. no multipler) on top of supposedly working a 40 hour work week?

        He was fired but not for that.

        Or maybe you mean private industry guy who came in on his off day to have the subsidised lunch, read his email to justify the lunch then crashed the server so that 300 people had their work wiped out? He wasn’t fired for that.

        Or maybe the private industry executive who declared redundant the programmer who had a heart attack on the job then posted a newspaper add with the same responsibilities with only the job title changed? The lawsuit cost the company a fortune but he wasn’t fired at all.

        Sorry … there have been lots of incompetent buffoons in non-football private industry that through the buddy system, nepotism and similar who were doing run of the mill jobs who did not get fired.

  8. Dundas dude // April 12, 2018 at 9:02 pm //

    Sad to see Austin leaving but I guess it is hardly surprising. Two Grey Cup appearances in 5 years is a lot better than the rest of recent Ticat history. Sounded pretty crowded at head office. The guy is a winner, and we are fortunate to have had his tenure. Best wishes for continued success (ticats and coach Austin). Won’t be long now!

    • IMO the sad part is that some of the “use two QBs” and other adjustments to make better use of the skills being fielded Austin showed early in his tenure were nowhere to be seen towards the end.

      He could have improved his chances with more of this IMO but for whatever reason, he stuck with what wasn’t working.

  9. Ticats management is still in Damage Control ! Season Ticket Renewel are way down !

  10. greenenvy? // April 12, 2018 at 9:58 pm //

    With the # of guys up top haven’t they been in a collaborative effort the past year? Hard to figure out who’s doing what & seems to be a lot of overlapping. If Austin is still there as a consultant, who is he consulting & what impact does his input have? ..he wants to look at where he wants to be in the future.”??? Ohhhhh – so that’s what a consultant gets paid for. Clear as mud.

  11. Relatively fewer coaches and execs remain in their positions for more than several years with any given team. I appreciate what Austin brought to the club, but also shake my head at his often stubborn approach to things.

    “Mitchell confirmed that Tillman was not “in charge” of football operations” — Better change his title on the website from GM to GMINO. And since football ops is basically what he’s done in various roles his entire CFL career, it begs questions about what exactly he’s going to be doing now, and how long before he too is a “consultant” (which is what he began as when he came to Hamilton).

    I’d like to know from Mr. Mitchell how he feels about a three-strikes rule for presidents. Cortez was a failure in his only year as coach and director of football operations. Austin (who was the guy Mitchell supposedly *really* wanted) didn’t lead us to the promised land. Who’s beaming up next Scotty?
    (I’ll give him kudos for any role bringing Obie to the team… we didn’t win the big prize either, but he shifted the Cats from sad-sack to respect, a huge step at the time)

  12. Tillman sounds like a GM in title only. Can’t see how the GROUP approach will work in finding players, signing players and finalizing a roster etc. Good luck.

  13. Would not be the least bit surprised to learn that Austin is taking a similar gig with the new Halifax Franchise. This is a big loss for Ticat football and I don’t think those remaining have the same type of talent. Time will tell. June Jones is going to be tested early with a very tough schedule to start. Maybe is Manziel is signed, Austin wanted to escape the media circus that will follow and this is his way of doing that.

  14. this is a huge mistake. this looks like the pre-obie era during which there wasn’t a proper hierarchy: owner (who hires) the president to football ops (gm) to coach to coordinators etc. it is not rocket science.
    i though bob young would have learned that lesson more than a decade ago; i am very surprised he is going to repeat this rookie owner mistake by allowing this.
    here it is again: football is not a democracy: lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.

  15. I like Steinauer but it’s hard to replicate the leadership & experience that Austin & Tillman bring to the table. Obviously June isn’t here for more than 1-2 seasons max.

    • If Jones plans to be gone after two seasons – why did he sign a three year deal?

      Three years starting Dec 2017 means he is under contract until the end of season three, does it not?

  16. Austin has been known to be a control freak and stubborn. Many players love him and many players hate him. He had almost 5 years at the helm with total control and i dont think we could have moved forward with him as VP as it is not his forte. Look at Banks and the weapon he has become when Jones changed him from punt/kickoff returner to wide receiver. I think Steinauer will be head coach in 2 years when Jones leaves.

    • Are the Cats planning on paying Jones to stay home for the 2020 season while he is till under contract?

      It was a three year deal signed in Dec 2017, was it not?

      If Jones is offered an NFL job where the Cats release him from his contract then I can see the time line but that is speculation at this point versus the contract timeline.

  17. How can anyone defend the sideline freak show KA put on the last couple of years? Many, many players and coaches left and are producing for other teams. Steinhauer left but is returning because KA will no longer be the coach. Resignings were good news. All the news is good.

  18. Bill deHoog // April 13, 2018 at 7:46 am //

    Good comments so far. I think that KA will be moving on either CFL or NCAA.
    Also, it seems Henry was correct about too many chefs in the kitchen; even though Hamilton fans didn’t like it.
    Should have 1 main person in charge…this may be only a stopgap
    Do they not have confidence in Tillman? What is his role exactly?
    I thought overall KA did a pretty good job….got a little frustrated at times that hurt him
    Good luck Kent

    • Sea of Dead // April 13, 2018 at 10:55 am //

      Good riddance! Don’t think too many organizations will reach out to a control freak like KA. Suggest that he will likely go on collecting a huge paycheck from the TCs for doing virtually nothing … Perhaps to bring washed-up Johnny football to the Hammer, replacing one head case for another.

  19. All the other teams in the east have made some significant FA signings. The Als getting Muamba this week improves their defense significantly.
    I predict that Ottawa and Toronto fighting for first and the Als 3rd, the Ticats battling the Als and hoping to stay ahead of the west cross over threat.

  20. I’m surprised by the timing.
    You would think a move like this would have been done weeks ago. Decision making by committee sounds awkward and slow. Potential conflict. Hopefully this doesn’t tear the team apart. Good luck to the Ticats, you’ll need it.

  21. Paul Smith // April 13, 2018 at 8:49 am //

    I hope that this isn’t true but perhaps their is a health issue here.

  22. Everyone working together. Grey Cup baby.

  23. Moncton Ticats fan // April 13, 2018 at 10:05 am //

    Paul Smith – my thoughts exactly. Last year his explanation about losing a lot of weight wasn’t totally convincing. Hope that is not the reason. I’ve never been a huge Austin fan, but wish him well none the less.

  24. RalphInTheCreek // April 13, 2018 at 11:03 am //

    Within a little time Kent will show up with a new team and surprise the hell out of us all. Good luck to him.

  25. Great legacy as a player in the CFL… and a perhaps even better one as a head coach. I hope he stays in the CFL… there will be a door open in Vancouver soon. IF he can get along with Ed Hervey.

  26. Ticats63 // April 13, 2018 at 2:24 pm //

    Clearly a power struggle with too many chefs in the kitchen (any other analogy is probably politically incorrect these days and would get this website shut down by the lefty “progressives”), and so Austin takes his leave with no doubt a nice severance package (ooops!, excuse me….make that “consulting contract”).

    As mentioned above by others, not having an identified single decision-maker is a structure fraught with issues and open to finger pointing when something goes wrong (i.e. the Ticats lose a game).

    High expectations have been generated with last year’s finish, the coaching changes and the player re-signings. Kent’s leaving is also probably a good move, but I hope Mitchell will be smart enough to completely stay out of the football operations (AND AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO EVEN CONSIDER SIGNING MANZIEL!).

  27. Austin will be named GM of Halifax sometime in late summer reliable source tells me great that he still will b in the CFL Ticats will b fine

    • MJ Bandit // April 13, 2018 at 11:03 pm //

      Maybe – wouldn’t be surprised – that if Atlantic Canada gets a CFL team – they reach out to some over-rated, recycled, Americans first hack to run their team. Would be very sad IMO, but in the good old CFL – that’s the way. Maybe they could get Mavis Reed if the Als fire him; or Chris Jones gets yet another CFL shot if things don’t work out in Riderville ? Bring back Jim Barker & Scott Millanovich ? The good ole CFL.

  28. The timing of this is so bizarre ! Not even DREW EDWARDS saw this coming ! Usually someone in the industry has some news before the Press Release yesterday !

  29. Ticat Mike // April 14, 2018 at 6:29 pm //

    Scott Mitchell has been a total disaster. He is on the top of the Ticat org chart and he is the one who made bad decision after bad decision. Bottom line — win…. Win the Cup. Yes, we’ve been close, but he has failed on the football side, let alone the stadium debacle — that’s some great football precinct you’ve planned Mr. Mitchell.

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