Austin staying put

FBO CFL East Semifinal 20151115There is still a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding just what the 2016 version of the Ticats will look like, but one thing just became clear: Kent Austin isn’t going anywhere.

The team announced earlier today that they have signed their head coach, general manager and vice president of football operations to a contract extension, believed to be four years, that will keep him running the Ticats until 2019.

Austin was set to enter the final year of his initial contract, signed prior to the 2013 season, this year.

To say Austin has been the team’s most successful coach since Ron Lancaster is an understatement.

Austin’s 29-25 record as head coach may not seem like much, but considering no coach since Al Bruno left the Ticats with a career winning percentage at or above .500, Austin record in his three years with the team starts to look a lot more impressive. Add in the three straight East Final appearances, two Grey Cup appearances and at least one playoff win every season and it goes without saying that Kent Austin is quickly becoming one of the best coaching hires in franchise history.

While Austin has yet to bring the city of Hamilton their sixteenth Canadian football championship, I still believe that before Austin steps aside, he will accomplish that goal.

With Austin now locked up, the team can go about putting together their roster for next season. With two dozen or so players from last year’s team still unsigned, the team is going to look mighty different in 2016. But with Austin staying put, perhaps some of the players on the fence about returning will be more likely to sign knowing their boss is in this for the long haul.

For the longest time, the Ticats were a team in flux, always looking for the next big move that would put them over the top. They cycled through coaches, signed high-priced free agents and none of it worked. Then they signed Austin and it has been relatively smooth sailing ever since.

The Ticats are a team built in Kent Austin’s image and will continue to be so for at least the next four years.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.