With Wednesday's firing of Marcel Bellefeuille, the Tiger-Cats now have an opening at Head Coach. There are a lot of qualified candidates out there that, and with the team interviewing candidates starting today, now is the perfect time to look at some of the names being tossed around.
Austin has been covered ad nauseum since Rod Pedersen erroneously stated that he had interviewed for the job, so I won't retread too much.
Austin would be a great choice to replace Marcel Bellefeuille. He has all the attributes the team should be looking for. He is a proven winner with a wealth of CFL experience as both a player and Head Coach. He's ideal, if not perfect, for the job.
But, he has a nice gig at Cornell and the Ti-Cats would have to offer something pretty enticing to get him to return to the CFL.
Austin is a dream choice, but that dream will probably remain just that.
With Wally Buono stepping down, he's likely to take over the Lions. It only makes sense for him to stay, so he can pretty much be ruled out.
I won't hide it, Burke is my number-one choice. I know it is hypocritical to say that considering I think hiring a first-time coach is a negative, but Burke is the exception.
Not only does Burke have one heckuva résumé -- he has been the the Defensive Coordinator for the past four Grey Cup participants from the East Division -- but hiring him would also wound a team Hamilton is in direct competition with, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Hiring Burke just because he is a coach for the Bombers would be a bad idea, but he is also a great coach who could get Hamilton where they need to be.
He seems to be the favourite to land the gig, but his one year of Coordinator's experience seems too little to judge whether he is ready.
Also, it is not like the Tiger-Cats were a fantastic Defense in 2011. The Cats had great games, but struggled for the vast majority of 2011 to find the right combination of players. The Cats were not an elite Defense in 2011, and I don't think anyone would argue that they were.
Some seem to think hiring Chamblin just so he doesn't get hired by the Roughriders is why the team would hire him. That's silly. Chamblin should only get the job if he is the best choice.
That said, he's the leader before anyone has taken a tee shot.
Chapdelaine is in many ways the same as Marcel Bellefeuille was before he was hired. A decently successful Offensive Coordinator, but one that wasn't head and shoulders above everyone else. Chapdelaine did great with elite-level offensive talent in BC, but before that, he was the object of much derision and scorn.
Chapdelaine's future is tied directly to what happens in BC. He could stay in his role as Offensive Coordinator if Mike Benevides becomes Head Coach; however, he could also be shown the door just as easily.
But regardless of what happens in BC, I think Chapdelaine is a long shot at best.
Cortez currently serves as the Buffalo Bills Quarterbacks Coach, but he spent almost two decades in the CFL, most of them with the Calgary Stampeders, which means he has a plethora of CFL experience. He was a member of the Stampeders during four Grey Cup championships, including their most-recent win in 2008.
With the exception of not having been a Head Coach before, Cortez has a lot of the qualities the Cats should be looking for in a Head Coach. Maybe he's a dark-horse candidate, but if he's given a serious shot to get the job, he might be the right guy for it.
It has been confirmed by TSN that the Cats have asked permission to talk to Dickenson, so he is clearly a candidate. He will probably be a very good one... in about two or three years.
Dickenson has the makeup of a great Head Coach, one day. That day, however, is not today. He has three years of coaching experience and only one as a high-level assistant (2011, as Calgary's Offensive Coordinator).
If the Cats decide to go with a newer Coordinator (I don't count Burke), then they could do worse than Dickenson.
Marshall was the Defensive Coordinator for the Cats for two years, and he is well though of around the league. Most seem to agree that the problems in Saskatchewan had little to do with him and more to do with the power structure.
But would Marshall want to return to Hamilton? I think after how things went, he might be better off taking the Rich Stubler approach and becoming an assistant again.
On second thought, forget this.
It is probably Chamblin's job to lose, but Dave Dickenson is probably not far behind, with Geroge Cortez not far behind Dickenson. Tim Burke has not been mentioned, but hopefully he gets a call as well. The wild card in all this is Kent Austin. If he expresses interest, all bets are off.
The Cats won't make a decision hastily, but this also won't be a prolonged search either. I believe the team had an idea of who they wanted before they pulled the trigger on Bellefeuille. Before the calendar flips to a new year, the Cats will have their new Head Coach.