- It doesn’t sound like Jeff Reinebold will be staying with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in any capacity.
The former Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive coordinator made his first public comments in the wake of his departure from the team earlier this week on Inside the Huddle, the NFL-themed podcast he co-hosts for SkySports.
In it, Reinebold discusses the circumstances surrounding his firing, the “disloyalty” from certain unnamed members of his staff and his future with the club. Head coach Kent Austin, who replaced Reinebold with linebackers’ coach Phillip Lolley after the team gave up an average of 39 points a game while starting 0-6, had offered Reinebold another spot within the staff, likely working with new assistant head coach June Jones.
It does not, however, sound like Reinebold is inclined to take it, particularly after speaking with veteran NFL assistant coach Rob Ryan, current Argonauts’ head coach Marc Trestman (the two were together in Montreal) and Jones, with whom Reinebold coached at SMU and Hawaii.
“In my conversations with guys that I trust and guys that I know in the business, I had mentioned that they said ‘we’d like you to stay.’ [Chuckles] I wish I could give you the exact message that I got from Rob Ryan but it was colourful, to say the least. He said ‘Jeff, no way.'”
“I talked to Marc Trestman, who was head coach of the Bears who got fired and then was in very much the same situation in Baltimore when he was the offensive coordinator. He said ‘no way.’
“Both of them advised me not to do it. They said it will be too raw. As much as you love the players and your loyalty to June… they said go surfing, go do your job at Sky and take some time to reassess where you are and what you want to do.
“That’s been the message from everybody. Jerry Glanville said the same thing. Even June said ‘I want you to stay but I couldn’t do it.’
“I think that’s the way it’s going to sort out.”
Reinebold also raised the issue of loyalty several times in his discussion with co-host Neil Reynolds and seems to indicate that he did not have final say in the hiring of his defensive assistants after being named to the post this winter.
“When you go through these things you find out a tremendous amount about loyalty. You wonder why guys don’t take jobs unless they have only their guys in place with them? For reasons like this. When it gets tough, and it always gets tough, if the guys are bound together you can weather it better than when guys are starting to feel like ‘Oh my God, the ship’s sinking and I better see how I can get on one of the lifeboats.’
Reynolds followed up by asking if everyone with the Ticats’ organization was on the same page.
“I’m not going to… this is the reality of the business: you have guys with agendas. It’s very, very rare – and I mean very rare – for everybody to be focussed on one goal. Because these jobs are so coveted and they pay so much, it’s just natural that people are going to try and climb over one another. It can be really, really subtle. It can be as little as a side conversation. When somebody starts a conversation about ‘well, I would be doing it this way’ or with the players ‘well, they’re not using you in the right way, I would use you this way,…’ all of that stuff is divisive and not productive for the team.
“Disloyalty comes in a lot of fashions. It can be not doing something the way it needs to get done, continuously. That’s the same thing as saying ‘I’m not going to do it your way.’ There’s also the more blatant form of disloyalty which is guys cutting side room deals.
“If you win enough, you can mask that. But when you’re not winning then somebody has to pay the price.”
Reinebold said he was surprised by the decision, which came after the Ticats lost 33-28 in Edmonton last Friday, a furious four-quarter rally falling just short.
“Not really. You’re so busy working that you tend to be oblivious to certain situations. After the fact, you go back and dig through the rubble and you see those little side conversations that are going on, the subtle messages that you probably, if you weren’t working so hard, would have picked up… As a matter of fact, I was kind of shocked because we had played some of our best defence the night before. We had made three stops in the fourth quarter to give our offence the ball back with chances to win, we just couldn’t get it done.
“The game ended with us throwing the ball into the end zone: if the guy catches it, we win the game, he drops it and we don’t win the game against an undefeated team. It’s just the way it goes.
Reinebold also explained the details of his firing and said there was no previous indication that his job was in jeopardy.
“Every situation is unique but the thing that took me by surprise was that there were no conversations previous, there was no the head coach calls you in and asks ‘what are you doing on third down?’, or ‘I don’t like what you’re doing here, you’re blitzing too much, you’re not blitzing enough.’ There was none of that. It was just a blind-sided – I got a text at 5:30 in the morning to meet the head coach at 9, I walked in and he told me what he was doing and that was the end of it.
“The first phone call you make is obviously to your agent because you want to make sure that you’re protected financially. What’s interesting is that a lot of contracts – and I have a very good agent – are written with a re-assignment clause in it so that they can reassign you anywhere within the organization. In my contract, there was no such re-assignment clause and so they are responsible for paying it through the duration of my contract.
Reinebold did have positive things to say about his overall experience in Hamilton.
“It’s been a wonderful five years, it’s been a great ride, it’s been a lot of fun. The owner here is a fabulous owner. Scott Mitchell, our president, is a football guy. All of that stuff has made it an amazing place. The fans are absolutely incredible.
Listen to the full interview here.