June Jones joins Ti­cats staff

Austin hopes coach with for­mi­da­ble re­sumé can help spark Col­laros and strug­gling of­fence

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

CAL­GARY — Let’s get this out of the way first: June Jones is not com­ing in to take Kent Austin’s job.

With a long and im­pres­sive re­sumé that in­cludes head coach­ing stints in both U.S. col­lege and the Na­tional Foot­ball League, June Jones was named as­sis­tant head coach of the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats on Wed­nes­day. It was, how­ever, Austin’s idea to bring in the 61year-old who was on the Toronto Arg­onauts’ ros­ter as a quar­ter­back in 1982 and was the of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor of the Ot­tawa Rough Rid­ers in 1986.

Dis­cus­sions with GM Eric Till­man — who has a long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship with Jones — in the wake of the team’s 60-1 loss to the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers last Satur­day led Austin to bring the idea of adding Jones to team owner Bob Young and CEO Scott Mitchell.

“Ab­so­lutely, at the end of the day it was my de­ci­sion. I was com­pletely for it and I think it will be re­ally good for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. His re­sumé speaks for it­self,” Austin said. “He’s re­ally go­ing to be a great fit in get­ting to know him through­out the week. He’s go­ing to be a great fit cul­tur­ally and I think the play­ers are go­ing to re­spond to him.

“It’s no se­cret to any­body that we’ve strug­gled of­fen­sively.”

Jones’ con­tract with the Ti­cats only runs the re­main­der of the 2017 sea­son. Austin is signed through 2019. Mitchell said Austin’s job isn’t — and has never been — in jeop­ardy.

“This is June com­ing in to sup­port Kent, the play­ers and the team. This has noth­ing to do with Kent Austin’s ten­ure as gen­eral man­ager and head coach of this team. He’s go­ing to be an in­te­gral part of this team for a long time,” Mitchell said. “It’s never been sug­gested by any­body other than [the me­dia] that Kent’s job was ever even dis­cussed. “Kent’s done a tremen­dous job.” Austin said Jones will join the team in Ed­mon­ton on Thursday — the Ti­cats play the un­de­feated Eski­mos on Friday — and dis­cus­sions are ex­pected to take place over the week­end as to what Jones’ role will be go­ing for­ward. Austin said it’s pos­si­ble that Jones will take over the play call­ing du­ties cur­rently per­formed by of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Ste­fan Ptaszek.

“Prob­a­bly not ini­tially, but that’s on the ta­ble. He’s got a lot to learn, our play­ers, what we’re do­ing of­fen­sively, and we’ll go from there,” Austin said. “He needs to feel com­fort­able with what he thinks the pieces should look like.”

The Ti­cats have scored just five of­fen­sive touch­downs this sea­son and quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros is strug­gling through his worst sea­son as a pro­fes­sional. As a self-de­scribed “foot­ball junkie,” Col­laros said he’s ex­cited about get­ting to spend time with a coach who’s worked with quar­ter­backs like Brett Favre, Jim Kelly and War­ren Moon.

“I watched him when he was at SMU and Hawaii, and it’s a fast­paced of­fence that puts a lot on the quar­ter­backs and the re­ceivers, and I’m ex­cited about that,” Col­laros said. “I don’t think there’s any po­ten­tial neg­a­tives. With his re­sumé and his knowl­edge of the game it will be an easy tran­si­tion for him and for us.”

Jones also coached cur­rent Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers pivot Bo Levi Mitchell, and the reign­ing CFL Most Out­stand­ing Player cred­its him for an im­por­tant part of his de­vel­op­ment.

“I love June and he was a guy that got me out of my shell. I was very metic­u­lous and he taught me to be the gun­slinger that I am,” said Mitchell, who played for Jones for two sea­sons start­ing in 2008. “That of­fence fits this league re­ally well.

“I think Zach will love it.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

June Jones checks his play­book dur­ing foot­ball prac­tice in Honolulu in 2007. The Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats have hired Jones as as­sis­tant head coach.

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