Who’s in Charge of the Ticats? Not Kent Austin

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REGINA, SK - JULY 08: Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Kent Austin on the sideline during the game between the Hamilton Tiger Cats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on July 8, 2017 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)

June Jones is the new head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but don’t think for a second he was Austin’s choice. Sure, it was Kent Austin, the vice president of football operations, who announced to the assembled media that he was comfortable handing the reins over to Jones to be his head coach. This would make sense had it been Austin announcing Jones’ hiring earlier this month in the first place. But it wasn’t.

Who’s in Charge of the Ticats? Not Kent Austin

Ticats Season a Disaster

To quickly recap, the team’s season was a dumpster fire prior to Jones’ arrival on scene on August 2nd. The team was 0-5, reeling from one of the worst drubbings in pro football history, a 60-1 loss to the Calgary Stampeders. The team put up its best effort of the year the following week, coming to within a Hail Mary of pulling off an upset at Edmonton. But the events since then have been downright baffling.

No Running Game

Any defensive coordinator knows the best way to make their job easy would be to never run the football. It would allow the defense to split their linebackers into blitzing and/or drop into pass coverage with no need to defend the run. The Tiger-Cats have made defensive coordinators’ jobs easy this year, averaging well under 10 carries per game. That’s a cardinal sin.

Unless you’re tearing it up otherwise, you’d better be grinding out at least 15 to 20 carries a night to defend your play-calling. And if the Ticats don’t have faith in their running backs, than they’re in deeper hot water than we thought. It’s not fair to the offensive linemen who get pounded in such an offense, nor is it fair to quarterback Zach Collaros who’s been taking a beating of his own. Not to mention their own defense, which spends copious time on the field.

June Jones’ run-and-shoot offence might work in college, but it has been a disaster anywhere in pro football for the past thirty years. Early indications are it will be here too. All of which prompts the question, ‘Why on earth would a brilliant football mind like Kent Austin allow this to go on?’ The answer: He’s not in charge.

Who’s Really in Charge of the Tiger-Cats?

So who’s really making all of these strange moves? General Manager Eric Tillman? Seems unlikely, given that it was Austin who brought Tillman into the organization. Team president Scott Mitchell? Maybe. He is, after all, charged with running things. But he’s a business guy, not a football guy. Is all of this coming from the top with owner Bob Young giving these orders? Perhaps. After all, he sank a fortune into this team only to be rewarded with an atrocious season without a win before Labour day.

Austin being shuffled elsewhere in the front office is consistent with Young’s previous moves in his fourteen-year stewardship of this historic franchise. He always found a place for Ron Lancaster when he wasn’t needed as head coach, and it appears he is now doing the same for Austin.

Hiring June Jones, putting in the run-and-shoot, and shuffling around the Tiger-Cats organization to make something happen could all be good moves. Or it could be just a rearrangement of deckchairs on the Titanic. I think it’s the latter but it’s all up for debate.

What isn’t up for debate, however, is that Kent Austin is no longer in charge of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And for a brilliant football mind like his, that’s a real shame.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree that the offensive line has gotten a bad rap this year. I also feel that CJ Gable is not the back that can give you 20 carries and punish the defense. It is also hard to commit to a running game when you are behind by 3 touchdowns before half time for at least 65 out of our 8 games.

    I have watched all the press conferences and I am going to take Austin at face value. I think he truly knew he needed to step down . Any other coach at 0-8 , plus last years slide would have been fired after the Calgary game. The fact that he is VP of football made it awkward and he ended up doing the right thing. I think June Jones can turn this around by next season as he has connections with everyone in both leagues and has seems to have the right attitude.

    For next year we need a solid “grind it out ” running back and with that an offense that can have the ball for more then 25 minutes a game. This will help the defense not let up 400 yards passing a game.

    • I don’t think the offensive line is getting an unfair bad rap at all. I have been to multiple games where the number of times that Collaros gets 4 seconds in the pocket you can count on one hand. And its not even the other team’s blitzing. Its a four man rush and getting huge pressure. Running can help slow it a little, but they still need better pass protection. This offensive line is bad…. the criticism is deserved.

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