June Jones says this was his idea.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach since Labour Day 2017, Jones stepped aside on Monday to allow Orlondo Steinauer to take over the top job. Jones moves to associate coach and offensive co-ordinator.
With Steinauer a strong candidate for head coaching jobs in both B.C. and Toronto, Jones said he spoke to team CEO Scott Mitchell before leaving for his off-season home in Hawaii about the possibility of changing roles.
“Everybody understood that Orlando was going to have an opportunity at both places. So I had a long conversation with Scott [Mitchell]… and I said ‘the way that you have the best chance to [win] is to get everybody signed back on. I have no problem with letting him take the head job and let me focus on the offence,” Jones said Monday. “Orlando and I had a conversation. We talked about those two other jobs and I just felt this was the best opportunity to be a Grey Cup champion faster than anywhere else.
Jones took over an 0-8 team last season and led them to six wins in their final 10 games, then guided the team to an 8-10 record in 2018. The Tiger-Cats finished second in the East and reached the division final before losing to Ottawa.
“It was a pretty quick, easy decision for me as soon as I talked to Orlondo. We talked through the B.C. situation, the Toronto situation and I know that he believes in the organization in Hamilton. It was not a hard decision,” Jones said. “I think everybody understands what we’re trying to do and that’s win. The ability to maintain the staff and not have disruptions is important for the success of any football operation.”
The 65-year-old Jones has 13 seasons of NFL coaching experience and 16 years at the NCAA level including seven years as head coach at Southern Methodist University. He served as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-1996 and was the interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 1998.
“I signed a three-year deal and I’m just taking it year to year. I really enjoy the players,” Jones said. “I’m at a stage of my career… You know how I am, I’m very honest and I’m not into all the he-said-she-said stuff. I enjoy just focusing on a football part. I’m happy that Orlando gets to learn how to be a head coach and hopefully he’ll have a long career with the Ticats.”
Jones had high praise for Steinauer, who became an assistant coach in 2010 after a 13-year playing career with Hamilton and Toronto. He spent four years on Hamilton’s staff under head coach Kent Austin then one season as Fresno State’s defensive co-ordinator before returning to the Ticats this season.
“Number one, he studies the game like all the great coaches do and he has a great feel with the players. It’s unique to find a guy that is a football guy but still has the ability to motivate and to have hands-on with the players and the players respond,” Jones said.
Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville will also return, Jones said.
“He really has a lot of respect for Jerry. He wants Jerry back and I’m excited that Jerry is going to be back. All three of us kind of worked together last year the way that we will work together this coming year. That’s how I see things shaping up,” Jones said. “I’ll do whatever the organization wants me to do. But the reason I have success is that I’m involved with the players and your touch with the players when they’re in the building is what wins football games and that’s not going to change with me in any way. Everything will stay consistent.”