With Austin out, Ticats to go with “collaborative effort” in front office

With Kent Austin no longer serving as primary decision maker, team CEO Scott Mitchell said final authority on football operations will be spread among front office and coaching personnel, including head coach June Jones.

General manager Eric Tillman, assistant general manager and director of football operations Shawn Burke, and assistant general manager and director of Canadian scouting Drew Allemang all remain with the organization but none of the trio has final say.

“The two things we’re focused on is the draft and the roster,” Mitchell said Thursday night after news Austin was stepping down as vice president of football ops was announced. “The draft is going to be run by Drew Allemang with input from everybody and as far as the composition of the roster, that will be June.”

Mitchell said that putting together the coaching staff and re-signing the team’s big-name players were the off-season priorities and Austin was able to execute those tasks.

Austin was at the helm while the team re-signed Jones in December and inked a number of high-profile pending free agents including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, receivers Brandon Banks and Luke Tasker as well as linebacker Larry Dean and defensive tackle Ted Laurent.

“Where we are right now, most of the hay is in the barn in terms of the big decisions that need to be made, now it’s about the competition in training camp. June will make those decisions in terms of the composition of the roster,” Mitchell said. “The ongoing personnel decisions will be a collaborative effort between Eric, Shawn and Drew in conjunction with others.”

Mitchell confirmed that Tillman was not “in charge” of football operations and that assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer will also play a role.

“Orlondo will have a great opportunity to have a leadership role both in the coaching staff and as a conduit between the staff and the personnel folks,” Mitchell said.

Austin will remain as a consultant with the club and Mitchell said he will continue to be the Ticats point of contact in the Johnny Manziel negotiations.

Mitchell said he does not expect the current front office structure to change for the duration of the 2018 season.

Mitchell said Austin’s role has been under review since he stepped down as head coach after an 0-8 start last season. Austin has said he prefers coaching and there were reports this winter that he was pursuing opportunities that would get him back on the side line.

“Kent and I have had a lot of discussions about this and we had a lot of discussions about this going back to the mid-way point of last season,” Mitchell said. “Kent’s always been focussed on the success of the organization but I think he wants to look at where he wants to be in the future. This allows him to contemplate that.”