Tiger-Cats’ Game Day
Down but not out, Ticats say a win will get them on track
The soap opera that is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats keeps getting more interesting.
As if an 0-6 record, including a 60-1 loss to Calgary, and a fight between frustrated players in practice wasn’t enough, the team made moves this week that added turmoil to its coaching ranks and defensive backfield.
Despite all the noise, the Ticats believe they can turn their season around with a win Saturday over the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers (4-2). And they’re not wrong.
A confidence-building win over the Bombers could set up the Ticats for a nice run, as their next four games are against beatable East opponents (Ottawa twice and Toronto) and Saskatchewan, currently in the West Division basement.
“One of the things I remember from my time in Toronto and my time in Ottawa is that you can be in the position this team is and still win the Grey Cup,” new Ticats assistant head coach June Jones told reporters this week, noting Ottawa won the Canadian Football League title last season after posting an 8-10 regular-season record.
“You can’t say that in the NFL, and you can’t say that in college.”
But the Ticats are in a state of flux entering Saturday’s game, with multiple changes to the coaching staff to contend with as well as the surprise release of defensive back Will Hill.
After adding Jones — a 34-year coaching veteran at the National Football League, CFL and National Collegiate Athletic Association levels — as his assistant last week, Hamilton head coach and vicepresident of football operations Kent Austin replaced Jeff Reinebold as defensive co-ordinator with Phillip Lolley, formerly the linebacker coach.
Hill started five games for Hamilton and registered 25 defensive tackles, second on the team, and a sack. But he was suspended for a game earlier this season after making contact with an official. “We did it because we felt it was best for the football team,” Austin said Wednesday of Hill’s release. “We want guys that understand what it means to be a teammate, and to play in a team sport. That’s all I’ll say.”