Regardless of the 108th Grey Cup outcome, it feels like the end of an era for the Ticats

Photo courtesy: CFL

No matter what happens on the field Sunday, it feels like the 108th Grey Cup is the end of an era for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Speculation has been running rampant behind the scenes that head coach Orlondo Steinauer has a multi-year deal worth millions on the table from the University of Washington to be the Huskies’ defensive coordinator.

His longtime coaching mate Tommy Condell could be destined for a return to the United States and a role south of the border. While special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold was in tears at media day reflecting on memories with the current group.

Starting quarterback Dane Evans is a pending free agent just like his QB room buddy Jeremiah Masoli. It’s unlikely the two would stay teammates due to the salary each might command on the open market and the fact each man wants to be a No. 1 guy.

One of the key men working in the front office, Shawn Burke has drawn the attention of Ottawa and Edmonton for each team’s vacant general manager roles. He’s been with the Ticats since 2007 and earned respect from rival personnel men around the league.

Those are all critical contributors who have worked diligently to produce two straight Grey Cup appearances and the storybook finish would be to win the big silver trophy together. However, sports isn’t scripted like a feature film, the ending rarely goes exactly how you envision.

Hoisting the cup in Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field would be the perfect send-off, but the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are looking to go back-to-back and start an era of dominance and a potential dynasty. Plus Zach Collaros would love nothing more than to watch the clock tick down in victory formation against the hometown black and gold team who traded him away.

Steinauer has immense respect for Collaros and the two are high level competitors competing yet again for the coveted trophy. Collaros could also be the last pro QB Steinauer game plans against for the foreseeable future. Former Fresno State University colleague Kalen DeBoer would love to have Steinauer scheming and recruiting for his Pac-12 team.

Sources who know Steinauer believe he wants to run a program one day and the money in NCAA football is substantially more than he could ever earn in the CFL. Joining Washington would be a homecoming for Steinauer who was born in Seattle, went to nearby Lynnwood High School and earned a football scholarship to Western Washington University.

Ideally, Steinauer leaves Steeltown after a parade down main street in Hamilton, but he’s already put his name on the CFL’s prized trophy as a player and coach. That’s why many feel the time is now for Steinauer to try a new challenge with seemingly unlimited upside and give the 48-year-old time to rise after proving his leadership abilities in Canada.

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