It has taken more than two full days, and the Canadian Football League has yet to pull the trigger on a basic, required, announcement: Kent Austin has been suspended for making contact with a game official.
Yet here we are on Tuesday morning, and not a peep from the office of the commissioner, nor former referee Glen Johnson, now emperor of the league’s football operations division.
On Saturday night, Kent Austin made contact with an official during his team’s loss in Regina. It appeared Hamilton’s coach was angry. He took a swipe, and hit the side judge. After the initial illegal procedure flag took the Tiger-Cats back five yards, another 10-yard penalty was assessed for Austin’s antics. That was a mistake, too.
On Pages 58 and 59 of the CFL’s 2016 rulebook, it clearly states “for physical abuse of an official in any matter whatsoever,” a 25-yard penalty and a disqualification are to be applied. Neither happened, of course, even though the rulebook has no grey area on the matter.
The CFL cannot miss here, as they have before. A league, after all, that only takes a stand when it’s easy.
|Photo: Troy Fleece|
And, of course, they didn’t suspend Austin last September, when he intentionally made contact with Dave Stala on the sidelines, throwing a laughable fine at him instead. Now a year later, and a pattern has developed, although this time it’s worse: Austin hits someone, not in pads, but an official during a game. As disrespectful an act a coach can commit in-competition. It cannot be tolerated. That we’ve gone this long without the CFL applying an automatic one-game suspension is as irresponsible as the on-field crew not ejecting him in the Hamilton loss at Mosaic Saturday night.
When CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge fined Austin for the Stala incident, his statement included this quote: “I want it to be clear that the CFL has an important standard of conduct for coaches which must be respected and upheld.”
It wasn’t Saturday night. Not by a coach who last year says he apologized to the players on the Tiger-Cats and “assured them that going forward my behavior will be consistent with those (high) standards” of conduct.
Austin didn’t live up to his word either.
A catastrophe can be avoided on the field if the offence recovers a coughed up football. The CFL has fumbled once already, now is their chance to make up for their mistake.
On Sunday, Orridge typed a tweet that began with “Football is family.”
That “family” includes the game officials. Anything but a suspension for Austin will disrespect them, and their profession, even worse than what the coach did on Saturday night.
A basic, required announcement is already too late in being issued. For the sake of the integrity of the game, let’s hope 2016’s fumble leaders won’t, again, be those making the decisions at the CFL office.