In what has been a rough week for Ticats fans, they finally got some good news.
Tommy Condell is staying.
As first reported by TSN’s Farhan Lalji, Condell turned down requests by Edmonton, Ottawa and B.C. to interview for their vacant head coaching positions and opted to remain in Hamilton for the 2020 season.
Losing Condell, who led the league’s top-scoring offence despite being without *deep breath* his MOP-level quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli), his starting tailback (Sean Thomas-Erlington) and his most sure-handed slot receiver (Luke Tasker) for most of the year, would have been a big blow to the Ticats.
Condell staying could have many rippled effects, not the least of which is killing the idea that he would be hired as a team’s head coach as a way of luring free-agents-to-be Jeremiah Masoli and Luke Tasker to whatever place he landed. That’s not to say those players won’t team up and sign somewhere together, similar to what Danny McManus and Darren Flutie did in 1998 when they both signed in Hamilton, but the Condell connection won’t be the reason why.
It also provides some staff continuity for the Ticats as they go through a bit of turmoil there. Dennis McKnight is off to the XFL with June Jones, and Jeff Reinebold has the option to join them, and Mark Washington is a candidate in all three places Condell rejected. So it is possible that just Condell and head coach Orlando Steinauer stay in the same positions next year.
Keeping Condell could also help keep a number of potential free agents from leaving, including Masoli and Tasker, as well as star receiver Bralon Addison (who obviously had his best year in 2019 under Condell). Condell’s relationships with his players cannot be understated, many believe the Ticats took a turn for the worse in 2016 because of Condell’s abrupt departure just weeks before training camp was set to open. Condell was seen as the yin to Austin’s yang; a much more positive presence even when things weren’t going great.
After losing the Grey Cup in blowout fashion, watching some well-liked coaches bolt for better opportunities down south, and seeing 31 of their players on the list of pending free agents, Ticats fans needed a win this week and they got it from Tommy Condell.