Orlondo Steinauer is now the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and that’s a good thing… I think… but I’m not sure.
Steinauer was named head coach on Monday, with now-former head coach June Jones stepping aside and assuming the role of associate head coach and offensive coordinator for the 2019 season.
Looking at the positives, the Ticats retain a sought-after coach in Steinauer and elevate him to the role they knew he’d take eventually when they brought him back to Hamilton before the start of the 2018 season. They stop Steinauer from possibly going to B.C., or worse, Toronto to become their head man and potentially torment the team and its fan base as he succeeds while Hamilton tries to find their next guy after 65-year-old June Jones finally walks away from the game for good.
The Ticats also get continuity in their staff. Even with Jones demoting himself (for lack of a better word), it will still be the same braintrust that saw the team make it to the Eastern Final this past season. Steinauer and Jones are for-sure back, and they want last year’s defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville back as well. If Glanville does return, the same main three from this past season will return for another go around.
Steinauer was very likely going to get an opportunity to become a head coach this year, whether it be in B.C. or, more likely (in my opinion), Toronto, so unless the Ticats wanted to see him walk away after grooming him for five of the last six years to be a head coach, they had to make this move.
If Steinauer becomes the head coach many think he will be, then this is a great move and will have set the Ticats franchise up for success for the next decade.
But that doesn’t mean this move doesn’t come without its potential pitfalls.
For one, what if Steinauer just isn’t head coaching material? I know it seems crazy to think, but remember when everyone thought Greg Marshall would be a great head coach and when he finally got his chance with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2011 he proceeded to go 1-7, was fired before Labour Day and hasn’t been given a second chance.
Remember George Cortez? The offensive guru who won four Grey Cups with the Calgary Stampeders was long thought to be the next great CFL head coach. But his lone season in Hamilton in 2012 produced a 6-12 record and the team missed the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Cortez was hired to get the Ticats over the hump that previous head coach Marcel Bellefeuille could not, and Cortez finished with a worse record than any of the Bellefeuille-led Ticats teams.
Those are just two of the most recent guaranteed-to-be-successful future head coaches who did not live up to the hype. Will Orlondo Steinauer follow suit?
Secondly, what if the Steinauer-Jones dynamic doesn’t work? I’m not suggesting it won’t, because June Jones comes off as someone who really does want to do what is best for the team, but is it going to be weird for the players to see the guy they used to look at as the boss still be there but not be in the boss role? Imagine if you went to work and your manager was suddenly demoted. They are still in an authority role, but a lesser one, and now when a problem pops up you are not sure if you should go to the old boss or the new one. It can create an untenable situation for both the bosses and the employees.
Promoting Steinauer is likely the correct call, and I do think he will be more Dave Dickenson than Marshall or Cortez, but there is that nagging part of me that isn’t ready to anoint Steinauer as the franchise-saving hire until we see what he can do.
I made that mistake once before (*cough* Kent Austin *cough*) and it started great, but ended poorly.
I do truly believe that Orlondo Steinauer will be a successful head coach for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but until I see the proof and not just the potential, that small part of doubt in me will creep in.
The Ticats have gone all-in on Coach O, now Ticats fans need to hope the gamble pays off.