Ticats go Christmas shopping for new defensive coordinator

Kent Austin has the best kind of Christmas list: one he gets to fill himself.

With the departure of Orlondo Steinauer to the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats vice president of football operations and head coach is in the market for a new defensive coordinator. He’s made a list, checked it twice and he’s gonna find out who can talk to and who he needs permission to interview.

After some tampering hijinks last off-season, the CFL passed new regulations that strictly govern how teams interested in coaches currently employed by another franchise can proceed. Luckily, one of the early front-runners is already on the Hamilton payroll.

Austin said current special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold, who ran the defence in Montreal in 2012, will likely be the team’s sole internal candidate. Of course, moving Reinebold from one portfolio to another would also create another opening.

“I’m thinking about current staff, personalties, where we need to be philosophically,” Austin said. “He’s the best special teams coach I’ve ever been around. That doesn’t mean he’s not a candidate for the other position but we have to look at the entire puzzle.”

Among external candidates, Austin could opt for an experienced CFL coordinator currently outside the league, including former Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin and current Queen’s defensive coordinator Greg Marshall – both former Hamilton coaches. Or he could pursue coaches currently under contract with another club but who may be looking for a change (or have it forced upon them): Montreal’s Noel Thorpe, Toronto native Mike Benevides (currently with Edmonton) or Winnipeg’s Richie Hall, who coached with Austin in Saskatchewan in 2007.

He could also hand the reins to one of the league’s up-and-comers, as he did when he hired Steinauer – who had been almost exclusively a position coach up top that point – in 2013. The name at the top of that list is likely current Edmonton defensive backs coach Barron Miles.

“I would strongly lean to experience in the CFL but it depends on the person,” Austin said. “I’ll be open to the best candidate to fit our needs.”

Steinauer is the second coordinator to leave in the Ticats in as many seasons after offensive coach Tommy Condell departed abruptly last spring. But Austin said the continuity the team has enjoyed – Steinauer, Reinebold and Condell were together for Austin’s first three seasons – is the aberration, not the departures.

“We were fortunate to have years of consistency, that’s not common,”Austin said. “It’s a volatile business, it’s transient in nature. That’s what we deal with, that’s what all teams deal with.”

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