Q&A: Orlondo Steinauer on his return to the Ticats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer and head coach June Jones spoke to the media on Friday about Steinauer’s surprising decision to return to the club after a year as the defensive coordinator with the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Q: This move caught a lot of people by surprise, why are you coming back after leaving a year ago?

Orlondo Steinauer: When I went down originally there was no plan to come back I was just going down there to do the best job that I could for Fresno State and was extremely grateful for the opportunity. This opportunity happened fast, it wasn’t on my radar, I didn’t make any phone calls. When opportunities arrive in life you’re forced to make decisions and for my family and for where I wanted to be personally and professionally, while it was a very tough decision, we feel like it was the right decision for us.

Q: What was your reaction to the enthusiastic reaction on social media from many of what will be your players?

Steinauer: The support has been outstanding. I’ve been involved with Hamilton for a long time, the quality of people in the community and the organization, the players themselves – the relationships that I built with quite a number of them obviously they withstood the test of time. I was humbled by it, a little bit overwhelmed. This is the fun part about it. Really grateful for the support.

Q: Coach Jones, will Jerry Glanville and Phillip Lolley be part of your coaching staff?

June Jones: Yes, Jerry Glanville will be named defensive coordinator. I extended an offer to Phil to come back but he has elected not to do that.

Q: Coach O, what excites you about working with Jerry Glanville and June Jones?

Steinauer: The opportunity is exciting. Anytime you can be around to coaches that have become lifers in this business and have done it at the highest level, that’s attractive. As much as I’ve accomplished as a coordinator, I’m always intrigued by the opportunity for professional development and to have a chance to have on-the-job training from people like Jerry and June, that’s a hard opportunity to pass up.

Q: Orlondo, what are your short-term and long-term goals?

Steinauer: I’m here to support June Jones in any way I can. I’m not job chasing. I’m here to help bring the Grey Cup back to Hamilton. But the opportunity to learn the other side of the football is extremely attractive. All I’ve done is study offences for 20 years as a player and a coach and to sit back and dig into something can only help me professionally. It’s not just about the x’s and o’s, it’s a chance to observe an overview of the whole organization and how he runs his show. There’s an infinite number of ways that I can learn.

Long term, I’ve always said I see myself as a head coach. But we all know that while the goal is to win the Grey Cup, you don’t focus on the Grey Cup – you focus on the process and I’m just focused on the process. I won’t dance around it, I see myself as a head coach at some point in my career but I’m not end-watching right now. That will happen in time.

Q: How much of this was a family decision?

Steinauer: We were extremely happy in California, the kids adjusted well. Playing basketball in the driveway in February was fun. It does not hurt that we are coming back to his city and a town that they know, a place that we own a home. This thing happened quickly.

Q: Coach Jones, did you have any chance to talk to Orlondo before this happened and what it made it attractive to you to bring him on the coaching staff?

Jones: I talked to people in the organization and some of the coaches on the staff and recently I talked to some of the players and the feedback was real positive. So even though Orlando is going to be learning the insertion of the offence part of it, as the assistant head coach, he’ll be there to share his experiences on the other side of the ball with Jerry as he plugs in to CFL football. I heard all positive things and that swayed me to talk a little more with Scott [Mitchell] the last couple of weeks. Scott finally reached out in the last few days to Orlondo and he had a positive response.

Q: Orlondo, was their another attraction that made you say this is something that I need to do?

Steinauer: Having Jeff Reinebold on my staff, he had worked with June in a couple of different locations and I felt like I had a mini connection to him because Jeff spoke so highly of him. As far as how everything transpired, it just seemed that after a conversation with him that while there’s something to be said for experience and comfortable level, there are times that you go with your gut feeling and I just had a good feeling inside. As hard as it was to leave a good situation in Fresno – I knew from the outside in that this wouldn’t make a lot of sense – but at the end of the day this is about me and my family and what’s best for the situation. Once June and I had a conversation or two here recently, it just felt right.

Q: Coach Jones, you’ve said previously that former offensive coordinator served as a sort of “CFL translator” for you. So you see Orlondo taking on that role?

Jones: I see Orlando helping every which way, on and off the field.