Home in the Hammer: Ticats extend reigning CFL Coach of the Year Orlondo Steinauer

Photo courtesy: Alex Lupul/AlexLupul.com

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have signed reigning CFL Coach of the Year Orlondo Steinauer to a contract extension, per league sources. 

It’s expected Steinauer will keep his coordinators in place, Tommy Condell on offence, Mark Washington defence and Jeff Reinebold special teams.

Saskatchewan set a precedent by signing head coach Craig Dickenson through 2023 and coordinators Jason Maas and Jason Shivers received two-year extensions until the end of 2022. 

Steinauer is the 26th head coach in Ticats history and the seventh to win the Annis Stukus Trophy following Greg Marshall (2004), Ron Lancaster (1998), Al Bruno (1989), Bob Shaw (1976), Ralph Sazio (1964) and Jim Trimble (1961).

Steinauer was named bench boss of the Ticats in December 2018 and tied the league record for wins by a first-year head coach in 2019. Hamilton produced a single-season franchise-best record of 15-3 on the way to first place in the East Division as the Ticats went 9-0 at home for the first time in team history. However, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers upset the Tabbies in the 107th Grey Cup. 

The 47-year-old Steinauer took over an eight-win Tiger-Cats team and helped them improve by seven wins, finishing first overall in the CFL standings for the first time since 1998 and capturing the East Division title for the first time since 2014.

The Ticats topped the league in points for (551) while allowing the fewest points against (344) last season. The points allowed were the fewest in franchise history for an 18-game season, while the 551 points scored were second only to the 1999 team that tallied 603. 

Steinauer returned to the Ticats in 2018 as the team’s assistant head coach after one season as Fresno State University’s defensive coordinator in 2017. Steinauer was part of the Bulldogs’ remarkable turnaround, posting a 10-4 record and winning the Hawaii Bowl over the University of Houston.

Fresno State was just one year removed from a 1-11 record and became the second team in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to go from double-digit losses one season to double-digit wins the next.

Steinauer had previously spent four years on Kent Austin’s coaching staff in Hamilton (2013-2016), originally joining the organization as defensive coordinator in January 2013. He was promoted to assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in May 2016.

The Seattle, Washington native’s defensive units helped lead the Ticats to Grey Cup appearances in 2013 and 2014 and consistently ranked at or near the top of the league in many defensive categories. The unit produced numerous CFL all-stars, including mainstays defensive lineman Ted Laurent, linebacker Simoni Lawrence and defensive back Delvin Breaux. 

Steinauer’s coaching career began in 2010 and includes stops with the Toronto Argonauts (2010-2012) and Western Washington University (1996-98) when he was still an active player.

As a player, Steinauer captured two Grey Cup rings in 13 CFL seasons as a dominant defensive back with the Ottawa Rough Riders (1996), Ticats (1997-2000) and Argos (2001-08). He was named an all-star at three different positions (cornerback, halfback and safety), earning five CFL all-star honours. His 1,178 interception return yards are the second most in CFL history.

Steinauer’s focus will be to return the Ticats to the Grey Cup in 2021 when Hamilton hosts the CFL championship in November. 

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.