This kind of thing rarely happens in the Canadian Football League.
A succession plan? One that makes sense and has been discussed in various forms for well more than a year? Where are we, Calgary?
Orlondo Steinauer wasn’t going to Toronto as head coach and he wasn’t going to the Lions, both of whom had permission to ask him, anyway.
Because the “assistant” part was about to become past tense. And now things are a lot less tense for the Ticats and their fans.
Jeremiah Masoli and Mike Filer, vigorously playing ping pong at Tim Hortons Field on Monday afternoon, were enthusiastic in their support of Steinauer moving up to head coach at the suggestion of June Jones, who stepped down a rung to remain offensive co-ordinator.
Masoli is under contract for next year but Filer is one of the Ticats’ nearly three dozen impending free agents, an issue Steinauer has to help deal with as the CFL speeds into a labour-uncertain off-season.
The centre and quarterback both know that the studious, new-wave Steinauer is a valuable asset to a team moving into the future and that Jones, with his up-coaching of a number of players and his creation of fierce communal optimism, was a must-keep, too.
And the Ticats have kept both.
The Ticats are also negotiating for the return of defensive co-ordinator Jerry Glanville, whose one-year contract expires in four weeks.
“I want Jerry back, ” Steinauer said Monday after the Ticats unveiled him as the 26th head coach in franchise history. “When I watch June coach and I watch Jerry coach, there’s a lot of similar patterns.
“They believe in not micromanaging and leaving the assistant coaches to do their jobs.”
When Steinauer returned to Hamilton from Fresno State last February, it was apparent he was being groomed as the eventual head coach.
He told The Spectator on Monday that he had committed to the organization and would have been willing to wait out Jones’ full three-year term but was grateful that his former boss suggested to him, and to Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell, that the prince take over from the king two years early.
“We’re very blessed to have June Jones in the organization, ” Mitchell said. “The very first week he was here, before he even took over as head coach, he and I had talks to contemplate where this was going. We had great chats with him again after last season. He really wants the organization to be in a great position. June didn’t know much about Orlondo but it didn’t take him long to figure out who O is and he really enjoyed coaching with him.”
So, really, the Argos had no chance on this one.
“It wasn’t about the Toronto or the B.C. opportunity, it was more about what I had here, ” said Steinauer. “The vision I have is to build a sustainable model for winning on and off the field.”
Jones was Glanville’s offensive co-ordinator with the Atlanta Falcons and became head coach in 1994 after Glanville was fired. But since, Glanville has worked for Jones in Hawaii and Hamilton. And a few months after Don Sutherin was fired as Ticat head coach in 1997, he returned as defensive co-ordinator for Ron Lancaster They won the 1999 Grey Cup together – with Steinauer as one of their key players.
“I know that it can work and that it has worked, ” Jones said. “It was a pretty quick, easy decision for me, and I talked to Orlondo about it. He belongs in the organization in Hamilton.”
Jones, who enjoys his off-time at his Hawaii home, will have a little more of it now and says there is nothing about head coaching he’ll miss.
Steinauer will have to reduce his coaching staff to the 11 mandated by the league for 2019 from the current 12.
Mitchell said that even with the three highest-paid coaches Steinauer, Jones, Glanville – returning, the Tiger-Cats will be able to meet the new salary cap on coaching and football operations.
Kent Austin’s significant salary remains on the books for 2019 but will not count against the new cap, Mitchell said. He added that he expects the three-man top of the football ops pyramid – Eric Tillman, Shawn Burke and Drew Allemang, whose contracts expire this month – to return with the shared-responsibilities concept that was introduced at the start of last season.
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