Monday, 17 December 2012

Ti-Cats Get Austin

Maybe this is coming a year later than the team wanted, but the Ti-Cats have finally secured the services of Kent Austin. Austin was named the team's head coach, general manager and VP of football ops today, just six days after the team fired George Cortez.

Everyone knows Austin's résumé, so I'm not going to give the rundown. We know where he has coached in the past and what his success has been. We know he's a Grey Cup-winning coach, the first to come to Hamilton since the team lured Ron Lancaster away from the Edmonton Eskimos back in 1998, and that he has no previous general manager experience. None of that means he'll be a success or a failure with the Ti-Cats.

When the Ti-Cats went on their coaching search last year, it took them almost six weeks to hire Cortez (who was under contract to the Buffalo Bills and whose season didn't end until January 1st). This year, the Ti-Cats took six days to get their man. It looks like Austin was the guy they wanted all along and they settled for Cortez.

Austin takes over a team that underachieved big time in 2012. The league's most potent offense was rendered almost useless by the league's worst defense. Finding a balance between the two sides of the ball will be key for Austin heading into 2013. If something on offense has to give to make the defense just a little bit better, that will make the team better overall and will be the difference between playing games in mid-November and watching them.

Austin has a tough task ahead of him, but I have to believe he is up to the challenge. The success or failure of this team will be based on the decisions Austin makes in his roles as head coach, general manager and VP of football operations. His first order of business will be to fill out his coaching staff. It'll be interesting to see who Austin brings in to run both the defense and the offense.

You can't help but get a little excited with the hiring of a new head coach, but a lot of people flipped their lids over Cortez's hiring last year and that turned out to be a disaster. For all involved, this better not turn out like that.

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