The Tiger-Cats introduced Scott Milanovich as the team’s head coach on Wednesday and he evasively answered questions about the future of Hamilton’s highest-paid player, Bo Levi Mitchell.
“All decisions are going to come down the line,” Milanovich told the media. “We’ll make the right call going forward.”
Milanovich only had a few games to work with Mitchell after taking over play-calling duties following the firing of Tommy Condell in August. He admitted that Mitchell’s absence for much of the season made it “unfair to him” when it came to getting “a full grasp of what I wanted to be done” but still believes the two-time Grey Cup champion has what it takes.
“I do know that Bo still has the arm strength, he still has the accuracy, he still has the competitive fire — he still loves the game.”
The 33-year-old dealt with myriad ailments in 2023, including an adductor injury that kept him out of the lineup for four weeks and a leg fracture that sidelined him from eight games. When healthy, Mitchell completed 58.5 percent of his passes for 1,031 yards with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
“I think the most important thing is that it’s a guy you can trust with the ball in his hands. You just can’t turn it over consistently,” Milanovich said.
As a team, Hamilton’s signal callers tossed 23 interceptions while throwing for 24 touchdowns. Mitchell was the most cavalier with the football, rookie Taylor Powell threw 10 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions and Matthew Shiltz had seven touchdown passes to five picks.
Hamilton’s offence did pick up its pace when Milanovich took over, scoring more points per game and finding more balance on offence. Milanovich helped Tim White become the league’s leading receiver while James Butler finished second in the league in rushing and became the first Tiger-Cats ball carrier since DeAndra’ Cobb in 2010 to rush for over 1,000 yards.
“The history I have with the offensive players is a tremendous head start. When we start talking about personnel, I’m going to know what I’m looking at,” Milanovich said. “There’s still tons of work to do but I do feel like we’re a leg up.”
Some of that work will be deciding which of their pending free agents to bring back. The Tiger-Cats currently have over 30 players slated to hit the open market in February, including stalwart veterans Ted Laurent, Simoni Lawrence and Dylan Wynn as well as offensive playmakers such as White and fellow receiver Terry Godwin.
Milanovich remained mum on whether he would assume play-calling duties in addition to being the head coach and indicated that his decisions on the coaching staff would be “the next thing that needs to be done” and that an announcement on his staff would be made in the coming weeks.