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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

AUSTIN BACK IN THE CFL

HAMILTON, Ont. - When Kent Austin turned the Hamilton Tiger-Cats down in 2011, he had no idea he'd be running the CFL team a year later.

The Ticats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders both pursued Austin to fill their respective head-coaching vacancies in 2011 but he opted to stay in his job as head coach at Cornell University.

This time, the Ticats sweetened the pot.

On Monday, the club hired Austin as their head coach, general manager and vice-president of football operations.

"Last year the timing wasn't right, it was not conducive for what was right for our family in our opinion,'' Austin said during a news conference at a Hamilton hotel. "I had a tremendous opportunity given to me at Cornell . . . and wanted to honour that commitment.

"But things change and for me this opportunity continued to grow and continued to grow in our thoughts. I just thought it was the best time and my family really wanted to come.''

In his new roles, Austin is in charge of all football-related decisions, something he says was more attractive to him. Still, he was surprised the Ticats gave him a second chance.

"Sometimes opportunities come around once in this profession and if you pass them up you don't see them again,'' he said. "But for whatever reason it did and came at a time that was right for us.''

Austin takes over as head coach from George Cortez, who was fired last week after compiling a 6-12 record in his first season with Hamilton. Bob O'Billovich is also out as GM and is mulling over an offer to remain with the franchise as a consultant.

Hamilton's offence was one of the CFL's most potent under Cortez, who also served as the offensive co-ordinator. But the defence struggled mightily and was a big reason why the Ticats missed the playoffs.

Hamilton led the CFL in scoring (29.9 points per game) and passing (298.2 yards per game) and was second in total offence (378.6 yards per game). Veteran quarterback Henry Burris led the league in passing (5,367 yards) and touchdowns (43) - both career highs.

However, the Ticats registered 45 giveaways (second only to Winnipeg's 53) and were the CFL's second-highest penalized squad. Defensively, Hamilton allowed a league-worst 32 points per game and was second-last in yards allowed (409.2 per game).

The watershed moment in the unit's struggles came in Hamilton's regular-season finale Nov. 1 versus arch-rival Toronto at Rogers Centre.

Hamilton entered that contest needing the win to make the CFL playoffs against a Toronto squad that had already clinched a post-season berth and rested 10 starters, including starter Ricky Ray. But the Argos earned a 43-40 victory on Swayze Waters' 51-yard field goal on the game's final play.

What's more, fourth-stringer Zack Collaros calmly marched Toronto into field goal range after Hamilton tied the score.

"The two most important stats in football are turnover ratio and big plays,'' Austin said. "If you win those two categories you have a really high probability of winning football games.

"We need to eliminate turnovers and make sure we win the turnover ratio and make sure we have big plays and not just on offence but on defence as well, what we call explosive plays.''

The quarterback is a key figure in three-down football, something Austin is all too familiar with. So it's no surprise he believes pressuring the passer is important to a defence.

"I played the position and coached the position and sometimes you give quarterbacks too much credit in football,'' he said. "There are times you need to get after the quarterback and pressure him.

"Not all the time but certainly we want to get teams in second-and-long in this league and give the quarterback a lot to think about.''

Austin joins the Ticats with an impressive coaching resume but with little front-office experience. He said he will evaluate Hamilton's roster, its current front-office personnel and coaching staff before deciding what changes are required.

Austin said while he'd like his coaches to have CFL experience, he wants them to be shrewd evaluators who are capable of designing schemes that put Hamilton's players in the best position to succeed.

Ticats president Scott Mitchell was dogged in his pursuit of Austin, saying the former CFL quarterback remained on his radar even after he decided to remain at Cornell.

"I always felt Kent was a person that had the talent to scale beyond being just a head coach so when things clarified themselves in our organization I felt like he was the perfect fit,'' Mitchell said. "He's got incredible natural leadership abilities, he's a confident person.

"I think he is because of his success and because he builds a process that demands accountability. For us, I think we need someone who can be the face of the franchise that's running football operations anyway they see fit and brings a lot of confidence and leadership to the organization.''

Austin won a Grey Cup as the Roughriders' head coach in 2007 and helped the Toronto Argonauts win a CFL title in 2004 as the team's offensive co-ordinator. The 49-year-old also earned championship rings as a quarterback with Saskatchewan in 1989 and B.C. in '94.

Austin entered the coaching ranks in 2003 as a quarterback coach with the Ottawa Renegades. The following season he joined the Argos before being fired in 2006 but resurfaced as Saskatchewan's head coach for the 2007 season.

Austin led the Roughriders to a 23-19 Grey Cup win over Winnipeg at Rogers Centre and was named the CFL's coach of the year.

On Jan. 16, 2008, Austin became the offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi, his alma mater. Two years later, he accepted the head coaching job at Cornell and is coming off a season where his team posted a 4-6 record.

Over three seasons at Cornell, Austin compiled an 11-19 record.

Hamilton hasn't won the Grey Cup since '99 under the late Ron Lancaster. But it hasn't been for a lack of trying since businessman Bob Young became owner in 2003.

Young hasn't been afraid to spend money, signing quarterback Casey Printers to a deal reportedly worth $500,000 annually in 2007. Last year, the Ticats signed free-agent slotback Andy Fantuz of Chatham, Ont., to a multiyear deal reportedly worth $190,000 a year and also lured Cortez from the NFL's Buffalo Bills with a four-year contract that was said to be worth $300,000 a year.

Next season, Young's team will be paying two head coaches - Cortez and Austin - but the Ticats owner believes his club has the right man in charge this time around.

"I'm not a fast study, it takes me a while to learn things,'' he said. "We still have to get better and Kent gives us that change to get a lot better.''

© 2012 The Canadian Press

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

It always comes down to Caddyshack for me when looking at the relationship of Kent Austin and Rider Nation.

From Ty Webb directed to Judge Elehue Smails regarding a long term relationship the Judge had with Ty's father over the buidling of Bushwood Country Club therefore Ty "owes" him something.

Ty Webb's response, "...Judge....my Dad...never liked you."

That sums it all up. Good luck to Hamilton as Kent Austin now instantly takes away any excuse for underachieving, and Hamilton now becomes the bonafide contender in the Eastern Division to go to the 2013 Grey Cup.

Obama

Anonymous said...

He's had enough of the cancerous , toxic Ridernation bad apples. Disgusting actually.

Anonymous said...

clap.....clap.....clap....and i raise my glass to you obama...wiser style!

Anonymous said...

Good for Kent. I think good for the league. I hope he does well, just not against the Riders. I believe the rational section of Rider Nation is just fine with this too, and for the irrational minority, let the ranting, raving, jealousy or whatever you want to call it begin. As a season ticket holder I look forward to cheering against him while the game is on. And if the Riders do happen to make it to the big game and win, guess which sign I'll be giving the anti-Rider crowd? Frankenstein

Ryan said...

12 months ago Kent Austin was being recruited by both the Riders and the Ti-Cats. He said no to both jobs. Even if they were comparative in wages and opportunities. He felt that his work was best served at the NCAA level. Now he feels that he can achieve more in Hamilton.

Am I angry no, am I upset no. Here is why. He is going to a team that was a disaster last year (in 06 Riders made the west final, 07 won the cup), and needs a personal overhaul. In 07 the Riders needed just a bit of tinkering to get them over the hump. Second of all the Riders have started to develop a sense of continuity with our staff adn coaches. That takes time. It is very rarely a rookie head coach takes his team to the promised land, though Scott Milanovich proved me wrong on this one.

Lastly is Taman and Chamblin have already started into signing their key players, addressing the off season needs and working on next year. Kent Austin has all of this work to do already. Even back in 07, Tillman was here for the last half of 06 and started to put his stamp on the team.

Will Hamilton be better....sure. Will they win the cup, probably not. Does this make their transition to the new stadium relevant yes. And that is the bottom line is making the team relevant as they move into their new stadium in 2014.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Kent.

Welcome back to the CFL.

One big baby to coach another one.

Burris and Austin. A perfect couple.

Anonymous said...

Good for Kent and his family. Offensively they seem to be fine with a whole lot of weapons,but defensively they need a lot of work.Kent is smart and I hope for Hamilton's sake that if an NFL O/C position comes up,He is probably gone. What he done in 07 in Sask was a perfect marketing tool to market Kent Austin.To try to do it again if he would have signed here last year , was inpossible. Good Luck in Steeltown,Kent.. Polkabill from Regina

RR said...

Trivial Pursuit for Woz - Who was the Riders QB in the 89 Grey Cup and coach of the 07 Grey Cup Team and now is Head Coach and GM of the Tiger Cats? Did someone say it won't happen?

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mr. Kent Austin, welcome back to the Canadian league of football.

Cap said...

This may be career suicide for Austin. Hamilton is a coach and GM graveyard.

Anonymous said...

Burris back to Sk for 2013

Anonymous said...

Austin spurns the Rider Nation again. I wonder why - could it have anything to do with one of the reasons he quoted ("the chance for immediate success") that he didn't see in Rider Nation last year??? The man is no dummy nor would he settle for mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news for the CFL, it's great to have Kent back in the league. I wish him all the best turning the fortunes around for the Ti-Cats; he has a pretty good offence to work with as a start. Defensively, they need to improve, but I would bet they're in the playoffs next year.

Rider fans should not be upset by this. We should be happy with what we've got in Taman/Chamblin.

And whoever said this is 'career suicide', do honestly think that if things go south in Hamilton there wouldn't be several other teams vying for Austin's services (even as an OC). His career will be just fine.

TR

Anonymous said...

Anon 12-Hopson had already hired his gm Tamen, why would Austin have worked underneath someone who has a overall losing record on his resume and has never had a championship to his credit. Austin should have been offered full autonomy of football operations with commiserate salary without Hopson butting In from the background sidelines.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Kent, great move for the CFL. As a Rider fan I am pleased to have someone of Kents caliber in the league. Wish the season started tomorrow. Go Riders and to a lesser degree go cats.
Dave in the Hat

Lynette Evans said...

Good to have Kent Austin back in the CFL. And for fans that are anry, hurt, crushed that KA signed with Hamilton - I don't think he required permission from RiderNation to make this move! He did his magic in Riderville and has moved on.

Anonymous said...

It's never as simple as Barack Hussein Obama thinks it is. But, I do enjoy his ramblings.

Anonymous said...

how many clients of Gill Scott are on out team?

Anonymous said...

We will be just fine without Austin. Immediate pressure to win in Hamilton. Remember, he has never been a GM before. Hard to do both. Only Hugh Campbell, Hufnagel and Buono have done it successfully over a period of time. Very taxing!! His upside is tremendous contacts. Watch for LaPo to be his offensive coordinator, Marshall to be his defensive coordinator and Burris to throw less interceptions.

Still like our team if we can resign Brackenridge and Neufeld and then be extremely aggressive in free agency!!

Aaron

Anonymous said...

People: Please proof read your rant or at the least check it for spelling. Reading these remarks proves the English language is dying.

Anonymous said...

Good for Kent, good for the Ti-Cats and good for the CFL.

Whatever the reasons behind him leaving or not wanting to come back really do not matter to me. He was a significant contributor to two Grey Cups in Saskatchewan and I'm happy for that. If he somehow finds his way back to the Riders down the road well that's great but if not it's no problem in my world.

Go Riders! Go CFL!

Anonymous said...

Kinda mixed feelings, as I jealously wanted him back with the Riders, but good to see him back in the CFL. Agree with the commentary that when he joined the Riders in 2007 that Tillman and previoulsy Shivers had built a really strong nucleus, so it was less difficult for him in that scenario. Has his work cut out for him though.

Anonymous said...

Throwing less interceptions is like being less pregnant.

Fewer

perogie said...

Austin Will never coach the riders again.He won the cup in his first year as coach and set the bar pretty high and as soon as things start going wrong as the pressure mounts up the fans would want him out.Kent did his part here won us two out of the three cups in 100 years so why would he come back here and try to get to the top again when he is part of one of the elite members of green and white...that's how Mr.Austin Will always be remembered here on a positive note not the a negative

Anonymous said...

yeah and it was so positive for him here they took how many years to put him in the Plaza of Honor? Even when he left and check the Sports Cage files the CEO was on the radio telling people the Riders did a lot for Kent, and not the other way around.

On a separate note Joe Womack who nobody heard about prior to coming to the Riders and whom everyone wanted as GM here has now been passed over twice for the GM job in Hamilton.

Chew on that.

Anonymous said...

For all the good the article says Kent did at Cornell they were 11-19 under his watch...he was losing status and this was the right time for a change. As a Rider fan I think this year he realized coaching at Cornell any further would not advance his career, if the rumours of his kids getting free education was true then I'm a bit surprised he left, however aren't his kids a ways from University?

Anyways, no hard feelings all the best Kent, if the Riders don't win the Grey Cup I hope the Tabbies do. I'm happy with Chamblin as our coach. Go Riders!

Dustin

S.White said...

Kent Austin is NOT a Super Hero! He is NOT a Team "Player". He is NOT LOYAL....I would MUCH rather have Coach C.C.

Anonymous said...

Do you think it's possible for a Billionaire like Bob Young to stroke a cheque to cover the tuition at Cornell? Could he make a scholarship and award it to Austin's kids then write it off? Is it possible a man making upwards of $500K pay the tuition on his own? HEY maybe the kids actually get a job and pay their own tuition? Is any of that possible?

Small world you guys live in.

Obama

Anonymous said...

Obama;

Billionaire Bob Young???? Maybe.
But expalin to me why Hamilton is on league assistance next season?

Parkside said...

Wheres all these clowns that said Austin would never leave college for a return to the CFL?

Anonymous said...

That's a valid point and one I will answer.

You have to view this from 2 separate categories. The CFL with it's 8 members are are one organization. The fans buy into the fact each team/organization exists on an island and what is mine is mine. There was a time Edmonton was riding high, but called Saskatchewan and floated a loan to them to keep them operating. David Braley supported the Toronto owners too.

Regarding league assistance here are your options. Hamilton will play in a stadium next year seating 7500 people. From an individual business perspective it makes sense for Bob Young to suspend operations, not pay out salaries, and restart when the stadium is built. Does that help the one organization called the CFL? How does that affect a TV contract or national sponsorship operating with 7 teams? It adds costs for Toronto and Montreal to travel too. In the best interests of the CFL and being in partnership the league owes it to Hamilton to cover capital expenses. This was the same deal the B.C Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers got.

Who the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hire/fire is nobody's business, and what they pay them is nobody's business.

You have 8 teams in this league all interdependant on each other. Some will have good years, others bad, but they all need each other. The high times in Saskatchewan are not going to last forever and they'll need a handout eventually too. It is in the best interests of all to have strong franchises in Southern Ontario.

Obama

The Woz said...

Obama - the Riders never have received a loan from the Eskimos. In fact when we were about bankrupt and the Eskimos were "riding high" as you say, we had to do a telethon to keep alive. Our gracious partner had lots of money but did not even offer to help us out. If we did not get a loan from the Province at the time we would have gone under and the Eskomos probably would have let us go. Get your facts straight.

The Woz said...

And to RR - what are you talking about? If you read last weeks blog I actually had already concluded he was going there - last week I said it was no coincidence that he was at GC for the first time in years, and that OB had moved upstairs followed by the Cortez firing...it was fairly obvious that he was going. I also said that his 11-19 record at Cornell might actually mean he would get canned there anyway so why not make a move to Hamilton. The only thing that I thought could hold him back was if Cornell was paying for his kids education...but having said that if he was going to get canned there or his contract would not be renewed at its end then his kids would not have got a free education anyway. Go lick a flagpole somewhere.

Mike from Vita, MB said...

Bobby Jurasin will be on the staff of the Hamilton Tiger Cats next season. Aldag would too, but he'll never do anything for any team but the Riders.

Anonymous said...

Woz,

There comes a point in fun yet serious tete a tete blog debates a person putting forth arguments can no longer be taken seriously in the public domain. You my friend have moved into that realm.

In 1997 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders held a telethon it is a known fact Hugh Campbell contacted the Executive and specifically asked how serious the situation was. Fred Wagman who reads this Blog can care to comment and validate what happened. Wagman with Tom Shepherd made it clear what the situation was. So while it was nice of the good people of Saskatchewan to buy a ticket or another season ticket, but kept the Riders going was a loan from the NFL, and the Eskimos giving the Riders money. Add to the fact in the midst of our own Provincial downturn the NDP government of the day provided an interest free guaranteed $2M operating loan.

Anyway I do realize that in this era of Saskatchewan we now live in the land of revisionist history.

Regards
Obama

Anonymous said...

To Parkside,

I will stand up as one of 'those clowns' and yes: eat my words... Hopefully you feel good that someone took your bate.

That said, I for one said he would never leave the NCAA to be a head coach in the CFL. Although I don't want to play with words, the reality is that I never imagined that the Ticats would give away the keys to the city. Head Coach is only one hat; Austin is also the GM and was appointed Vice President... all those positions come with power and big paychecks.

Okay, I ate my words in not predicting him to leave the Colleges to be (just) a head coach. Maybe time for yourself and/or others to eat your words. Do you really think he would have left if he wasn't given the keys to the city???

Anonymous said...

To everyone,

No matter what your opinion or comment about Kent Austin, at some point please dig down in your Roughrider Heart and at least consider to thank Mr Austin for helping to bring 2 of the 3 Grey Cups that are in Saskatchewan's name.

Be thankful for him, maybe even wish him good luck and a welcome back to the league.

Anonymous said...

If Austin makes the Tabbies contenders, that's good for the CFL as it'll spark interest in So. Ontario. Once Ottawa comes back in 2014, Winnipeg can move back to the West Division which will help create better East Division rivalries. Doesn't hurt the Riders, unless Hamilton beats us in the Grey Cup.

The Woz said...

Obama - the loan from the NFL went to the league not the Riders and I still stand by that there was no loan from the Eskimos - since it is not on our financial statements back then. You said that a loan had been provided by the Esks to the Riders - an offer may have been made but they did not provide one - that is fact buddy. You also said that there was a loan directly from NFL to the Riders which is not true. Don't care what Fred says - care what the audited financial statements say.

Anonymous said...

I like the post about thanking him for 2 out of 3 Grey Cups of which he was a key piece.

It is the way Kent Austin has been treated here that it is interesting to watch him take the high road, and never comment past the sublime.

However actions tell plenty. Kent Austin did not return for the 1989 reunion. If he goes to the BC Lions 1994 reunion that will say plent more. I guarantee he will not be here down the road for the 2007 reunion.

I'm only speculating, but Kent Austin takes the approach many of us who don't go back for a High School reunion when it comes up. The reality is the good times weren't as good as made out to be, it's nice to run into people from time to time, but there is no need to go to the that was then, when you have the option to live in the here and now.

It is also why Richie Hall or Bobby Jurasin is not going to be on his staff in Hamilton. Been there done that, no need to repeat. Watch for Rich Stubler to show up there with the Asst Head Coach title. They won a championship in Toronto together.

Obama

Anonymous said...

Woz poking dried sh*t again.

Bob Old said...

Word on the street is that Danny Barret is in the running for the Ti-Cats offensive coordinator.

Poka Brad said...

I would not be surprised to see Mark Sanchez at QB for Hamilton in 2013.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street it ain't gonna happen. Kent Austin took the job from Danny McManus in B.C., and now he's in full control in Hamilton where Danny McManus was passed over or even worse never considered.

Tommy Condell is going to be the O.C in Hamilton.

RR said...

Woz- I thought you signed off, you mean you were here last week again! Please make up your mind- off or on-. Also I never said you did not say it won't happen. And by the way, did you get the trivia question right.

Anonymous said...

Wow! obama really is a fountain of knowledge, makes me wonder why he isn't the Premier or even Prime Minister. The country would be in such better shape. Lorne

The Woz said...

RR - are you trying to be my mother? Since when do I need your permission or anyone other than Rod's to post a blog? But FYI, mother - I only come on here when Obama says something dumb (ya I know that means almost daily) or someone directly addresses my name in a post (like you). I continue to read the blog but have no interest in posting any longer unless one of the above conditions exist. So my Christmas present to you is if you stop invoking my name you will no longer have to read my long worded posts. Fair enough?

Anonymous said...

Kent was never offered a a HC\GM position in SK 2 years ago. Now he has all the control he wanted on a team. It will take a few years for Kent to get that Defence turned around in Hamilton. Im just not sure how well Kent's connections are on finding Defensive players. All of his talent has always been offence.

Anonymous said...

I think RR's head might be starting to hurt.

RR said...

Woz- You mean I get the same present as last year?

The Woz said...

RR - sure.

Anonymous said...

Another geezer fight, take your afternoon nap guys, this Is a Information sports blog with pertinent related opinion. Nobody wants to read your back and forth nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Pro Football has no such thing as rebuilding years. You can go from last to first if you make the right moves. It'll take Kent Austin a phone call to Rich Stubler or Greg Marshall, and 1 training camp to get Hamilton's defense turned around.

Hamilton has a lot of time to assemble a staff. Austin is probably getting phone calls never mind having to make them.

You can count on that.

Obama

Anonymous said...

There would be one bonus if obama was the PM. The Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup because you know what froze over. Neil

Anonymous said...

I am a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan. Read Al Strachan's book, Why the Leafs Suck.

I could be elected PM, you know what would freeze over, and believe me based on the facts put forward in that book they will never win the Stanley Cup.

Had I read Ken Dryden's The Game during formative years I would have saved myself a lot of grief. Oh well I can whine all I want, but the fact is it'll be Riders and Maple Leafs from cradle to grave, and that's just the way it is.

Merry Christmas
Obama

hmmm said...

I am interested to see if he can perform his magic again.

Other interesting point is that I assume he took a pay cut to come to the cfl

The only ones knocking Austin are the type of people that complain about "Merry Christmas". No one takes them seriously.

Anonymous said...

Shut up Obama! Leafs suck! Neil

Anonymous said...

I havent been on this thing for months. Austin will help Hamilton, but a lot of things must go right on a team to win the Grey Cup.....no injurys, team chemistry, etc. It seems like teams with Henry Burris on them dont always play like a team.
Oh my goodness how can I dislike Obama's opinions? He has the same illness as I do Leaffanitis.

Merry Christmas

The Stomper