The Ticats held their annual season-preview conference call today and while I’ll be writing more on this for Tuesday’s paper, here are some highlights.
• Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell says he expects the team to be profitable this season.
“We would had the chance to profitable in 2014 for the first time in 40 years. That didn’t happen because of disappointing stadium delays,” Mitchelll said. “Our expectation is that the Tiger-Cats will be a profitable franchise in 2015.”
“When you look historically at the different ownership groups and the challenges we’ve had at Ivor Wynne Stadium, from what we understand it’s been well over three decades and potentially four since we’ve had an operation that you could claim is sustainable and hopefully profitable.”
• Mitchell on a Hamilton Grey Cup:
“Our hope is to host more than one Grey Cup over time. There’ clearly a lot of great ownership groups and teams in line to bid but we feel that working together with the city, the region and the province we can put together a very competitive bid but that’s going to take some time,”
• Ticats coach Kent Austin on quarterback Zach Collaros:
“He’s got some Doug Flutie in him, he can pull stuff out of the fire that a normal quarterback can’t do. Because of the strength of his arm, everybody on the field is available to Zach,” Austin said. “I knew he was very bright but he was actually brighter than I anticipated in his ability to pick up our offence and the nature of what we do.
“He’s a real student of the game and he will pay the price to be prepared.”
• Austin was asked about Michael Sam, the openly gay player who signed with the Montreal Alouettes last week, by Alouettes radio play-by-play man Rick Moffat. Here’s part of the exchange:
Moffat: “Does the fact that an openly gay player comes into the league as an opposing player change in any way your preparation for your players? Do you discuss the gay issue with them in your locker room?”
Austin: “No, we don’t discuss the gay issue in our locker room. We could care less about somebody’s sexual orientation. We care about the quality of the individual and the commitment that he makes to his teammates, how unselfish he is in the role that he has been given. We evaluate every player the same way.”
Moffat: “Do you think he’s a player that projects well in the CFL game as a pass rusher?”
Austin: “I think he’s a good player. He has natural pass rushing skills, he proved that at a pretty high level in college. Obviously, it’s a different game up here and he’ll have to adapt to the style and nuances but I wouldn’t anticipate that learning curve being very difficult for him.”
• Austin on the progress of guard Peter Dyakowski
“Peter’s doing really well and he’s as good as shape as I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. He’s slimmed down, he’s very strong and he’s moving very well. He’s worked really hard at getting prepared for the season, I’m really proud of him. We expect him to play well but he’s got to get back into it, he’s been out for a long time. But he’s a veteran player, he’s very bright, he cares, he wants to win and all of that has been shown in his off-season preparation.”