Reinebold finally finds a home in Hamilton

The CFL’s great coaching nomad has finally found a home.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ special teams co-ordinator Jeff Reinebold has 16 former teams listed on his Wikipedia page, including stops with B.C., Edmonton, Winnipeg and Montreal in the CFL as well as stints in the NCAA and NFL Europe during a career that has, quite literally, taken him around the world. At least two of the teams Reinebold has been a part of don’t exist anymore.

But Reinebold has signed a contract extension that is expected to keep him with the Ticats through the 2017 season and will bring his tenure in Hamilton to five full seasons. It would be the longest he’s stayed anywhere.

“I don’t know if you ever stop moving – it’s like a shark, if you stop moving, you die, ” Reinebold said, laughing. “You just recognize when the stay can be longer than it’s been. And really, that comes down to environment.”

Reinebold has thrived under head coach Kent Austin, a combination that brings together two people who appear vastly different on the surface. Reinebold’s two-year stint as the head coach in Winnipeg starting in 1997 earned him a reputation that follows him to this day. It was a free-spirited approach that featured bleached-blond hair, tattoos and a motorcycle: He wore flip-flops to practice and played Bob Marley over the stadium speakers.

While he’s become slightly more conventional over time, Reinebold is still the only coach on Austin’s staff with a pair of tattoo sleeves and a seemingly pathological aversion to shoes.

“Sometimes this business gets caught up in the trappings: how you have talk, how you have to walk, how you have to dress, ” Reinebold said. “I’ve never been that guy, probably to my detriment. But Kent worries more about the result rather than whether you’re in bare feet at meetings.”

And Reinebold’s results have been excellent. Return man Brandon Banks was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Special Teams Player in 2015 and Hamilton’s cover teams have allowed just one return touchdown in the last three seasons. Reinebold has also schemed up an impressive array of fakes and formations, many designed to take advantage of recent rule changes and the league’s general quirkiness in the kicking game.

Reinebold also seems to have a knack for getting the most out of the young and inexperienced CFL players who must often cut their teeth on special teams. He likes to say that no player has “special teamer” listed on his football card.

“Being a special teams coach is different. You have to be part faith healer, part snake charmer, part prison guard. Nobody goes to the park when they’re a kid to practise running into the wedge. It’s about getting rational human beings to do irrational things.”

For Reinebold, however, staying in Hamilton makes a perfect sense.

“I’m so privileged to coach in a place that gets it. One of the things you learn through time and through travel is there are very few places, very few people in this business that get it, ” he said. “They let me be me and that’s one the things I really appreciate.”