Monday 2 January 2012

The Cortez Assumption

The calendar has turned to 2012 and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are still the lone CFL franchise without a Head Coach. The main reason most people believe the Cats have not hired anyone is because they are wishing to interview and/or hire current Buffalo Bills Quarterback Coach George Cortez, which they could not do before the NFL season ended.

Cortez would probably make a very good Head Coach. He has experience – both in the CFL and elsewhere – and success – where he was on the staff of four Grey-Cup-championship squads in Calgary – on his résumé. He is the type of coach the team could sell as an upgrade over Marcel Bellefeuille.

The one assumption is that Cortez will be available because Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey could be fired. The Bills started the season 5-2, but ended the season a disappointing 6-10 and in last place in the AFC East. The belief is that late-season swoon will cost Gailey his job.

But there are a couple of problems with that mode of thinking. First, there has been no talk of Gailey losing his job. None. It seems to be CFL writers and fans that think the Bills' failures will get Gailey fired. It has not been a topic that has come up amongst NFL writers or insiders. None of the lists of coaches on the hot seat that I have seen have included Gailey. Not one.

Secondly, NFL coaches generally get three years to turn a losing team around. Gailey just finished his second season in Buffalo, which means he will probably get at least one more season to try to get the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.

Finally, Bills Owner Ralph Wilson is a pretty patient man. He doesn't fire coaches willy-nilly. The Bills have had five coaches since Marv Levy handed in the headset in 1997, but only one coach lasted less than three seasons (Mike Mularky) and he left of his own accord following his second season. (This list doesn't included Perry Fewell, who took over on an interim basis after Dick Juron was fired mid-season in 2009.)

The above points do not preclude Cortez from becoming the next Head Coach of the Tiger-Cats, but history suggests that it will not be due to Gailey's firing. Fans holding out hope that Cortez will be a free man, thus able to come to Hamilton, should temper those expectations. If Cortez is to become the Tiger-Cats next Head Coach it will be because he wants to, not because his boss in Buffalo was shown the door.


  1. The Bills changed their defensive coordinator this afternoon. Gailey is likely a lock to stay, and therefore Cortez as well (they'd have announced a change of OC too, you'd think). As you say, it will be up to him to make any decision, but I don't see why he would resign.

    Unless there's an option none of us is aware of, Burke should be the man.

  2. Saw the news about the DC change in Buffalo. I agree with you, that's not a move that gets announced by itself. Cortez might still leave Buffalo for Hamilton, but I think it is highly unlikely.

  3. It depends on 2 things.

    1) Money
    2) If he even wants to be a HC in the CFL

    Assistant money in the NFL is still pretty good. He's got a good job as QB coach.

    Does he want to come back up to Canada? Does he want to put in the time it takes to be a HC?

    Now that the Bills season is over, (thank God)we'll see what his intentions are.

    Him or Burke are fine choices in my opnion.