My all-time Ticat head coach record list, Vol.3 (2008)

This is my comprehensive all-time Tiger-Cat Coaching List from the 1950 merger to 2008(present). It is the third installment of this list.

It is particularly poignant for me given the fact we have lost both Ralph Sazio and Ron Lancaster this year. Their contributions to Ticat lore will not be forgotten

My initial number-crunching efforts in assembling this list was listed at http://www.ticats.ca/index.php?name=PNp ... ic&t=14287 .

The coaching records for each head coach are first broken down chronologically, then the coaches are ranked at the bottom of this list.

The records are broken down per season in this way:
(regular season record) / (playoff record) / GC (Grey Cup if any).

The rationale behind the rankings will be explained in that section.

Russ Harrison

The List:

Carl Voyles (1950-1955)
OVERALL: 54-36-1 (.599)

Regular Season: 48-27-1 (.638)
Playoffs: 6-9 (.400)
1 Grey Cup (1953)

1950 7-5 / 1-1
1951 7-5 / 1-3
1952 9-2-1 / 1-2
1953 8-6 / 3-0 -- GC
1954 9-5 / 0-2
1955 8-4 / 0-1

Voyles was replaced after the 1955 season.

Jim Trimble (1956-1962)
OVERALL: 70-44-2 (.612)

Regular Season: 60-36-2 (.622)
Playoffs: 10-8 (.556)
4 Grey Cup defeats (1958, 1959, 1961,
1962)
1 Grey Cup (1957)

1956 7-7 / 1-2
1957 10-4 / 3-0 - GC
1958 10-3-1 / 2-1
1959 10-4 / 1-2
1960 4-10
1961 10-4 / 1-2
1962 9-4-1 / 2-1

Trimble left the Cats to coach Montreal following the 1962 season. CFL Coach of the Year in 1961 (first winner).

Ralph Sazio (1963-1967)
OVERALL: 60-24-1 (.712)

Regular Season: 49-20-1 (.707)
Playoffs: 11-4 (.733)
1 Grey Cup defeat (1964)
3 Grey Cups (1963, 1965, 1967)

The gold standard for Cats coaches. Period.

1963 10-4 / 2-1 -- GC
1964 10-3-1 / 2-1
1965 10-4 / 3-0 -- GC
1966 9-5 / 1-2
1967 10-4 / 3-0 -- GC

Sazio retired to the front office following the 1967 Grey Cup win. CFL Coach of the Year in 1964.

Joe Restic (1968-1970)
OVERALL: 22-21-3 (.511)

Regular Season: 22-17-3 (.560)
Playoffs 0-4 (.000)

1968: 6-7-1 / 0-1
1969: 8-5-1 / 0-1
1970 8-5-1 / 0-2

Replaced Ralph Sazio for the start of the 1968 season following Sazio's retirement from coaching. Restic was replaced by Al Dorow following the 17970 season.

Al Dorow (1971)
OVERALL: 8-8-1 (.500)

Regular Season: 7-7 (.500)
Playoffs: 1-1-1 (.500)

1971 7-7 / 0-1

Dorow took over from Joe Restic to begin the 1971 season. He was replaced by Jerry Williams after one season. The playoff tie was during a 2-game, total point East final with Toronto, won by the Argos.

Jerry Williams (1972-1975)
OVERALL: 32-32-1 (.500)

Regular Season: 30-29-1 (.508)
Playoffs: 2-3 (.400)
1 Grey Cup (1972)

1972: 11-3 / 2-1 -- GC
1973 7-7
1974 7-9 / 0-1
1975 5-10-1 / 0-1

Williams was fired following the 1975 season. He was replaced by George Dickson.

George Dickson (1976)
OVERALL: 0-2 (.000)

1976 0-2

Dickson was hired to replace Jerry Williams for the start of the 1976 season. He was fired after the second game and was replaced by GM Bob Shaw.

Bob Shaw (1976-1977)
OVERALL: 14-18 (.438)

Regular Season: 13-17 (.433)
Playoffs: 0-1 (.000)

1976 8-6 / 1-1
1977 5-11

Shaw replaced George Dickson after two games during the 1976 season, winning CFL Coach of the Year honours.. He was replaced by John Payne as coach after the 1977 season.

Tom Dimitroff (1978)
OVERALL: 1-3-1 (.300)

1978 1-3-1

Dimitroff lasted five games in 1978. He was fired and then replaced by John Payne.

John Payne (1978-1980)
OVERALL: 19-27-1 (.415)

Regular Season: 18-24-1 (.430)
Playoffs: 1-3 (.250)
1 Grey Cup defeat (1980)

1978 4-7 / 0-1
1979 6-10 / 0-1
1980 8-7-1 / 1-1

Replaced Tom Dimitroff as coach during the 1978.season. Lost the 1980 Grey Cup final to Edmonton 48-10 in Toronto and was subsequently replaced by Frank Kush.

Frank Kush (1981)
OVERALL: 11-5-1 (.676)

Regular Season: 11-4-1 (.719)
Playoffs: 0-1 (.000)

1981 11-4-1 / 0-1

Replaced John Payne following the 1980 season. Left for the Indianapolis Colts HC position after one year with the Cats.

Bud Riley (1982-1983)
OVERALL: 12-16-1 (.431)

Regular Season: 12-15-1 (.446)
Playoffs: 0-1 (.000)

1982 8-7-1 / 0-1
1983 4-8

Riley took over after Kush vacated the post at the end of the 1981 season. He was replaced by Al Bruno during the 1983 season.

Al Bruno (1983-1990)
OVERALL: 62-62-4 (.500)

Regular Season: 55-55-4 (.500)
Playoffs: 7-7 (.500)
3 Grey Cup defeats: (1984, 1985, 1989)
1 Grey Cup (1986)

1983 1-2-1 / 1-1
1984 6-9-1 / 2-1
1985 8-8 / 1-1
1986 9-8-1 / 2-1 -- GC
1987 6-6* / 0-1
1988 9-9 / 0-1
1989 12-5-1 / 1-1
1990 4-8

Bruno replaced Bud Riley late in 1983. He was fired during the 1990 season. Ted Schmitz replaced Bruno on an interim basis for the last six games of the 1987 season, going 1-5. Bruno came back to coach for the playoff game, which the Cats lost. He was CFL Coach of the Year in 1986.

Ted Schmitz (1987 interim)
OVERALL: 1-5 (.200)

1987 1-5

Subbed for Al Bruno in 1987 while he was recovering from a mild heart attack.

David Beckman (1990-1991)
OVERALL 2-12 (.143)

1990 2-4
1991 0-8

Replaced Al Bruno during the 1991 campaign and was fired during the 1992 one, replaced by John Gregory.

John Gregory (1991-1994)
OVERALL: 23-33 (.411)

Regular Season: 21-31 (.437)
Playoffs: 2-2 (.500)

1991 3-7
1992 11-7 / 1-1
1993 6-12 / 1-1
1994 1-5

Replaced David Beckman during the 1991 campaign. Gregory was fired during the 1994 season, replaced by Don Sutherin.

Don Sutherin (1994-1997)
OVERALL: 20-37 (.351)

Regular Season: 20-35 (.364)
Playoffs: 0-2 (.000)

1994 3-9
1995 8-10 / 0-1
1996 8-10 / 0-1
1997 1-6

Replaced John Gregory during the 1994 season. Fired during the 1997 season, replaced by Urban Bowman. The team finished 2-16 that year.

Urban Bowman (1997)
OVERALL: 1-10 (.111)

1997 1-10

Replaced Don Sutherin during the 1997 season. .

Ron Lancaster (1998-2003, 2006 interim)
OVERALL: 60-69-1 (.465)

Regular Season: 55-66-1 (.455)
Playoffs: 5-3 (.625)
1 Grey Cup defeat: (1998)
1 Grey Cup (1999)

1998 12-5-1 / 1-1
1999 11-7 / 3-0 -- GC
2000 9-9** / 0-1
2001 11-7 / 1-1
2002 7-11
2003 1-17
2006 4- 10

**- two points were awarded to the Cats in 2000 for overtime losses

Lancaster resigned following the 2003 season. He took over from Greg Marshall on an interim basis in 2006. CFL Coach of the Year in 1998.

Greg Marshall (2004-2006)
OVERALL: 14-26-1 (.341)

Regular Season: 14-25-1 (.363)
Playoffs: 0-1 (.000)

2004 9-8-1 / 0-1
2005 5-13
2006 0-4

Took over from Ron Lancaster beginning in 2004. Replaced by Lancaster following a 0-4 start last year (2006). CFL Coach of the Year in 2004.

Charlie Taaffe (2007-2008)
OVERALL: 5-23 (.179)

Regular Season: 5-23 (.179)
Playoffs: 0-0

2007 3-15
2008 2-8

Hired as replacement to interim coach Ron Lancaster beginning in 2007. Fired ten games into the 2008 season.

Marcel Bellefeuille (2008-present)
OVERALL: 1-7 (.142)

Regular Season: 1-7 (.143)
Playoffs: 0-0

2008 1-7

Hired on an interim basis to replace the fired Charlie Taaffe. Bellefeuille was named the permanent replacement to Taaffe on October 27, 2008.

Please note that in some years, there were two-game, total point rounds to determine winners in the Eastern playoffs -- including two 2-game/total-point affairs for the 1951 semis and final. This explains years where the Cats suffered multiple defeats in the playoffs.

All-time Tiger-Cat Coaching Rankings

I have ranked the Tiger-Cat head coaches using the following criteria:
a) Grey Cup victories
b) Overall winning percentage
I have avoided any intangible considerations in this list. I am dealing strictly with all-time records using the criteria above.

Group A – Grey Cup Champions

1) Ralph Sazio (1963-1967) OVERALL: 60-24-1 (.712) 3 Grey Cups

  1. Jim Trimble (1956-1962) OVERALL: 70-44-2 (.612) 1 Grey Cup

  2. Carl Voyles (1950-1955) OVERALL: 54-36-1 (.599) 1 Grey Cup

  3. Al Bruno (1983-1990) OVERALL: 62-62-4 (.500) 1 Grey Cup

  4. Jerry Williams (1972-1975) OVERALL: 32-32-1 (.500) 1 Grey Cup

  5. Ron Lancaster (1998-2003, 2006) OVERALL: 60-69-1 (.465) 1 Grey Cup

Group B – Non-Grey Cup Champion Coaches

  1. Frank Kush (1981) OVERALL: 11-5-1 (.676)

8> Joe Restic (1968-1970) OVERALL: 22-21-3 (.511)

  1. Al Dorow (1971) OVERALL: 8-8-1 (.500)

  2. Bob Shaw (1976-1977) OVERALL 14-18 (.438)

  3. Bud Riley (1982-1983) OVERALL: 12-16-1 (.431)

  4. John Payne (1978-1980) OVERALL: 19-27-1 (.415)

  5. John Gregory (1991-1994) OVERALL: 23-33 (.411)

  6. Don Sutherin (1994-1997) OVERALL: 20-37 (.351)

  7. Greg Marshall (2004-2006) OVERALL: 14-26-1 (.341)

  8. Tom Dimitroff (1978) OVERALL 1-3-1 (.300)

  9. Ted Schmitz (1987 interim) OVERALL: 1-5 (.200)

18> Charlie Taaffe (2007-2008) OVERALL: 5-23 (.179)

  1. David Beckman (1990-1991) OVERALL 2-12 (.143)

  2. Marcel Bellefeuille (2008-present) OVERALL: 1-7 (.142)

  3. Urban Bowman (1997) OVERALL: 1-10 (.111)

  4. George Dickson (1976) OVERALL: 0-2 (.000)

I hope this little primer will add to the "best ever" debates on the site. Trimble had the most wins with 70, but Sazio wins hands-down in terms of winning percentage and number of championships.

Oski Wee Wee,

Hi Russ,

     You have put a tremendous amount of research work into this. Rather than contributing to any debates re "best ever" coach, your assemblage of facts completely trumps any opinions. Can be no doubt that best Ticat coach ever was Ralph Sazio.

For myself, and I'll bet for many others,
Thank you for all the work,
Merlin.

Thanks Merlin! I'd like to acknowledge the help of others, including Mightypope, when I first compiled this list and had some gaps to fill. Now it is a case of updating it yearly. Hopefully Marcel will put more wins in his column and begin to shoot up the rankings! :wink:

I agree with you that it's hard to debate the idea that Sazio was the best head coach the Cats ever had. I have always had a soft spot for Al Bruno as he was coach for most of my teens and early twenties, but Sazio's tenure in the sixties was the best.

Oski Wee Wee,

No question, Ralph Sazio was number one. Jim Trimble would be number two on my list... he served a long time, and had many GC appearances, but usually got trumped by Bud Grant and the Blue Bombers.

I have a soft spot for Al Bruno too, also Jerry Williams, who was an innovator among coaches and made Garney Henley a full-time receiver.

I'm not surprised that many have a soft spot for Al Bruno. Count me in too. I don't think I was ever happier for a coach winning the Grey Cup than I was when Bruno's Cats won it.

Agreed. Stats might say that Sazio was the best (and i don’t think anyone wants to take that away from him), but Al Bruno is still “the best” in my opinion. My favourite coach.

Great work on this, Russ. It’s really interesting to see all the numbers. I had no idea how bad Taaffe was until I saw those numbers lol. :smiley:

Wish we could Clone Ralph Sazio …

John Gregory is one of my personal all time favs. Very classy and respectful of everyone. A simple yet proud man. 1992 was a great year! (11-7)

O.K. - please help me out here. According to the above, Tom Dimitroff coached in 1978.
BUT - according to this article:
Atlanta Falcons | People | Thomas Dimitroff:
http://www.atlantafalcons.com/People/Staff/Executive/Thomas_Dimitroff.aspx
.

it states:
"Dimitroff, 42, comes to Atlanta from the New England Patriots where he spent the last six seasons ..."
So, doing the math, if T.D. is 43 years old, then 2008 - 1978 = 30 years ago. This puts Tom Dimitroff at age 12, when he first coached the Cats in 1978.
So, is someone not telling the age correctly, or it is a different Tom Dimitroff?
.
The article states: " and as far away as the Canadian Football League, as well as Ottawa, Hamilton & Toronto, Canada."
Could it be his son?

:thup: :thup: :thup:

Yes, Thomas Dimitroff of the Falcons is the son of the former CFL coach.

So, strictly speaking, shouldn't he be Tom Demitroff II ?

Tom Dimitroff Sr. died a number of years ago according to another member of the site who PMed me when the first list was being compiled. The younger Dimitroff is the one finding such great success in his first year as Falcons GM.

Oski Wee Wee,

Excellent presentation Russ.Your work helps us old guys fill in the many memory gaps created over the years. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:
Pat Lynch(the old guy in section 7)

My pleasure, Pat!

Hopefully we will get greater memories from the club moving forward. Most of the recent era would have been flushed from mine had it not seemed to back up again and again. LOL

:D :D :D

Oski Wee Wee,

"flushed" seems to be an appropriate word for the recent era.

It's been 1990 since we had a coach with a .500 record?

I'm going to go cry now.

Thanks for the memories of years gone by. The history of this franchise is compelling, but difficult to recall given the on field performance of late. With that said, there can really be no debate...Sazio was by the far the best of the bunch. Sudsy may well have been the best d-co-ordinator...shame it didn't carry over to HC. Sigh....will we ever see a return to the glory days...

I liked Williams a lot too. It's a shame that the 1972 high with an on-the-rise Ealey never panned out into more championships. The amount of turnover in the roster post-1972 did not help the cause. Williams had a very good offensive mind and was fearless in trying out new formations and approaches to add wrinkles to the Cats' attack (the Henley-to-receiver move being the big one that stands out) . I also recall the "stack I" that Jerry tinkered with for short yardage plays a year or two later as another example of that.

Oski Wee Wee,

Russ:

Excellent work!

   I have extrapolated  some numbers (assuming my Central High School math is correct ) from your listings and found that from 1950 until Al Bruno left in 1990 the average coach's winning percentage is close to .525. Thats with 11 coaches.
   After 1990 the average percentage dropped to .260!   Thats with nine coaches. During this period John Gregory (.411) and Ron Lancaster (.465) had the best records.  The rest were abysmal.
   So even with a Grey Cup win from Ron Lancaster, the last 19 seasons have been less than stellar. The glory years ended after Al Bruno. 

Like you Russ, I hope we are now on the road back back towards at least a .500 average.
Ralph Sazio, Jim Trimble, Al Bruno (how could anyone not love that perpetual hang-dog look!) and Ron Lancaster were my favourite coaches regardless of percentages.

Yes, I recall the Stack -I formation as well. What I guess I remember most vividly about Jerry was his stint (the first time) in Calgary, where Peter Liske and Terry Evanshen lit it up for the Stamps in Jerry's "pass to set up the run" offensive scheme. I think this was the first time a CFL team became truly predominantly pass-oriented, and it set the stage for a style of football that is still the norm in the league. Until Jerry, "two bucks and a kick" was a pretty common approach, with a pass usually only if it was second down and six yards or more to go.