Lions, Argos ask to speak to Orlondo Steinauer about head coaching jobs

The B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts have approached the Hamilton Tiger-Cats about speaking to Orlondo Steinauer regarding their vacant head-coaching positions.

However, a CFL source requesting anonymity told The Canadian Press on Friday it’s unclear if Scott Mitchell, Hamilton’s chief executive officer, has granted the teams permission to approach the Ticats’ assistant head coach. Mitchell didn’t immediately return a telephone message Friday.

Steinauer, 45, was Hamilton’s assistant head coach under June Jones last season. He returned to the Ticats after one season as the defensive co-ordinator at Fresno State University.

Steinauer was Hamilton’s defensive co-ordinator (2013-16) and had emerged as a leading CFL head-coaching candidate. But he headed to Fresno State last season as former CFL coach Jeff Tedford’s defensive co-ordinator.

The Bulldogs were 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference and 10-4 overall after going 1-11 the season before. After losing 17-14 to Boise State in the conference final, Fresno State ended its season by downing Houston 33-27 in the Hawaii Bowl, becoming just the second team in U.S. college football history to win 10 games after losing 10 or more the previous year.

Despite that, Steinauer surprisingly returned to the CFL, rejoining the Ticats on Feb. 22 as their assistant head coach under Jones after Jones had been made the team’s full-time head coach. One reason for Steinauer’s return was to help new Hamilton defensive co-ordinator Jerry Glanville, a former NFL head coach, get acclimated to the nuances of Canadian football.

Hamilton (8-10) finished the season second in the East Division and opened the playoffs with a resounding 48-8 conference semifinal home win over the B.C. Lions. But the ’18 campaign ended the following week with a 46-27 road loss to the Ottawa Redblacks in the East final.

There’s no questioning Steinauer’s qualifications. He’s been a CFL coach since 2010 when he became the Toronto Argonauts’ defensive backs coach before being promoted to defensive co-ordinator in 2011.

When the Argos hired Scott Milanovich as head coach in 2012, he retained Steinauer as the club’s defensive backs coach. Toronto went on to win the Grey Cup that year before Steinauer went to arch-rival Hamilton as its defensive co-ordinator the following season.

Steinauer also played 13 CFL seasons as a defensive back with Ottawa (1996), Hamilton (1997-2000) and Toronto (2001-2008). He won two Grey Cups (1999, ’04) and five times was named a CFL all-star.

But Steinauer is much more than a former player who’s graduated to the coaching ranks. While being a solid technician of Xs and Os, the Western Washington grad also has the charisma, class and calm demeanour to be a solid face of the franchise to both media and fans.

Steinauer, Winnipeg offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice and DeVone Claybrooks, the defensive co-ordinator of the Grey Cup-champion Calgary Stampeders, are generally regarded as the top CFL head-coaching candidates. On Tuesday, clubs could begin approaching clubs for permission to speak with perspective candidates.

The Lions and Argos received permission from Calgary to speak with Claybrooks, according to 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk.

Toronto and B.C. are both in the market for a head coach. The Argos fired Marc Trestman after posting a CFL-worst 4-14 record while Wally Buono retired following the Lions’ season-ending playoff loss to Hamilton.

Claybrooks interviewed for the Montreal Alouettes head job in December 2017 before deciding to remain in Calgary. This season, the Stampeders sported the CFL’s stingiest defence, leading the league in fewest offensive points allowed (17.8 per game), offensive touchdowns (27) and passing TDs (11) while being tied for most sacks (45).

Claybrooks has also reportedly been offered a job coaching the defensive line with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys next season.

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