I think the slide goes back to the loss of Tommy Condell. I think his excellent play calling, particularly in the Eastern Final against Ottawa, was creative and incredibly flexible to adjust to injuries etc..
A quote from 3Downnation:
"In Condell’sfinal season with Hamilton, the Tiger-Cats had the CFL’s top ranked passing offence and were second in pointsscored, despite starting four different quarterbacks –Zach Collaros, Jeff Mathews, Jacory Harris, and Jeremiah Masoli – due to injury.
We really don't know how good our defense is with the crazy amount of time they've been on the field. I think this was (until the loss of Chick who I think is going to win a Cup with Edmonton) a defense that was as good as any we've had with Austin.
If this Condell guy is that good, let's get him in to set-up the offence and call the plays for Labour Day? Wait ... what? He dumped us over last year, at the last minute, to return home to the U.S. to take care of personal family matters? But he didn't really, he later took a demotion to coach in Toronto? Sounds like a real stand-up guy.
What is your point? Condell screwed us over and will be on the opposite bench next week. What he did, or could have done, no longer matters.
Connell left with hard feeling because of something Austin said or was planning on doing. Plays and playbooks are available online. It's not hard to believe Connell left some or all of his plays behind. Nonetheless, Austin and his OC do not have the imagination or creativity Connell has. So, the collapse is on Austin. He does not have qualified coaching on offence and the player quality is much less than other teams.
I'm not convinced our defence is as bad as the record indicates. I think they played well enough that we could have 3 wins.
I think the Condell thing was symbolic of Austin's lack of letting the people around him grow within the organization. Ie: our current coaches... I don't see any looking like they are long term. All the other assistants in the league seem to be predominantly up and coming guys. (see I never mentioned age)
Though, I'm not convinced something fundamentally hasn't change in Austin's head since he got sick - he seems to be a different more stubborn almost one track paranoid guy. Something doesn't seem right with his train of thought...maybe it's his relationship with Tillman? (I'm not sure they pair well together).
Condell for sure. I went to many practices and saw how he handled the offence. He was the shortest (by far) one on the field!
There was activity all the time and he was very energetic. I got the impression the players liked and respected him and they responded that way.
He and Austin worked well together for many years. It looked to me that it was Austin's move to make Orlondo the assistant Head Coach ( to keep him with the Tiger-Cats) instead of Condell that caused Condell to leave.
The team has never recovered from that.
If I am going to point it to one thing, it is our personnel department, and I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm throwing players under the bus, but I feel we came into this season ill equipped.
Lets start with our DBs, we started the season without a single player with more then 2 years of CFL experience (Demond Washington) and not a single national player. While this is bad (and I'm willing to give some leeway due to two major injuries) there is no excuse to not be able to produce a degree of depth at a position in which you are exclusively fielding international talent.
In fact, looking at our first depth chart, we have two positions being taken up by nationals. Safety and Ted Laurent at DT. Had Laurent been injured this season, we would have a first year draft choice filling that gap. That's crazy.
The next issue is our receivers. No concern has been made to develop, retain or seek out national depth outside of Andy Fantuz. Mike Jones is our lone international receiver with 2 seasons playing in the CFL despite us knowing that Andy Fantuz was starting the season injured, and he's being backed up by another Rookie. We lost Coates and Watt and replaced them with no one, further dwindling our national spots.
Then our O.Line which had us replace veteran Jeremy Lewis and Brian Simmons, one cut due to injuries the other traded for Ethan Davis (a sophomore player who has played two games this season). The position was then replaced with an import rookie. Knowing how hard it is to come by good Offensive Tackles, we let two walk.
Calgary started the season 4 guys on their roster playing their first year in the CFL and 6 on their second, Edmonton started the season with 6 in their first year and 3 in their second. We started with 11 in their first and 8 in their second. We have twice as many inexperienced players as the top teams in the league. It is a failure of those in charge of personnel to find and retain veteran talent.
I think you've identified the problem.
Condell not only worked with Austin for many years but then agreed to come to Hamilton with him and, I believe, was named assistant head coach by Austin at that time.
Then Austin, apparently blind to the consequences, names Steinauer, (who has much less coaching experience) as the new assistant HC and allows him to "leapfrog" past Condell in the coaching hierarchy.
No self-respecting coach such as Condell, who has demonstrated loyalty to Austin over many years, is going to sit by and allow that to take place without taking action.
At this point, I would be very surprised if Condell returned to this organization as long as Austin is around.
I realize that the reasons for Condell's departure are speculation on our part. However, what I don't get is if indeed his ego is fragile to the point of having to quit the team over another man's promotion, how do you explain his taking such a demotion to go to Toronto? Surely Receivers Coach has to be a big step down from OC, and unless there is some promise for the future, I don't see him replacing either Marcus Brady as OC or Marc Trestman as HC. And talking ego contests with Kent Austin, then I don't see him ever surviving an ego contest with Jim Popp?
And Kent Austin may be many things, but I don't think he is stupid. I'm sure he had a good enough handle on the former Austin/Condell system after all those years to implement and call those plays himself. I can buy that his personality and approach to the players would be different, and that as the "boss" as well as the coach, he has a different rapport than Condell would have had. But as someone has already pointed out, these are professional players and adults. In all my time in various sports, both as a player and as a coach, I don't think I can ever recall a coach who didn't yell at his players, or a player that didn't get yelled at, including myself. If that is all it takes to make a player on today's teams have to leave, then they certainly have had a very charmed, molly-coddled life in the game. I for one, can't imagine a Dave Dickenson or Wally Buono ignoring a screw-up or giving a kiss on the cheek to a gold bricker.
We'll never know if what I'm suggesting, as a possible main reason for the collapse of the Tiger-Cats, is true. My thought is that it could be poor handling of the SMS now catching up with an inexperienced (then in '13-'14) GM. Could that be the reason for getting Eric Tillman, and his experience, more, and more, involved in recent seasons? Between K.A.'s first and second seasons in charge, the cap limit increased by $600,000. with a new CBA covering seasons '14 through '18. I believe the new 1-year GM then went on quite a spending spree. And then, each season since, that cap has increased by just $50,000. The 2017 cap is $5,150,000. and, if reports in this forum are true, the TiCats have committed about 20% of that amount to paying just 3 players. With a roster of 46 + injured + PR, $50,000. extra to spend, in each of three seasons ('15 -'17), hasn't been enough to keep young players happy in Hamilton. It's basically close to having $1,000. per player in "pay play room" for annual pay increases. And, through the same period, the minimum CFL player pay has increased, yearly, by $1,000. to this year's minimum salary of $53,000. Those increases also cut into the $50,000. extra dollars, annually available. So, paying too much to too few has resulted in other players choosing to move on in free agency and the constant parade here of inexperienced, inexpensive replacements, along with the odd NFL experienced player looking for a chance to get his failing career back. And now, it appears a "re-building" plan is starting. But, early round draft picks, playing here for a couple of years, as inexperienced special teamers, not getting much of chance to prove themselves otherwise, and then moving on, won't solve the problem.
Palmer: I don't think you have assessed Condell's situation correctly.
This is all speculation on my part but football coaching is a transient business. You want to get ahead...you often have to move to another team. Condell had been with Austin for many years. He probably felt it was time for him to move up the ranks and when he lost the Assistant HC job he realized his future would lie with another team.
My guess is that he left to take a bit of a break and bide his time. He knows in the CFL there are always new opportunities. The Blue Team job was good way for him to stay active without too much stress or moving house. He could very well end up with another CFL team after this season, probably as an OC with the move after that being to an HC job. If not there will be other opportunities in the US either at the college level or in the NFL. Or even with the Blue Team.
I'm inclined to go with ottawacat's assessment. Too much money tied up in too few players, leaving the cupboard bare. Not enough to reward player growth and improvement, not enough to attract good new or new to us talent.
As to Tommy Condell, my main thought is that, for whatever reason or reasons, and for whoever's fault it is or was, he is gone. There is no benefit in continuing to pine for his loss.