Records comparison of Ticat coaches (my stab)

Hi folks,

I was inspired by a post in another thread to do some number-crunching and make a comparative list of the major Tiger-Cat coaches in history in terms of service and victories. I have deliberately omitted coaches who did not 1) serve as long or 2) attain the number of victories these men did.

I have ranked them two ways. First of all, I have given the all-time records first (regular season and playoffs), followed by an individual breakdown season by season. The final ranking is by a combination of Grey Cup wins, followed by overall winning percentage, and finally by total wins.

Please note there may be discrepancies, but I think the math and history is pretty tight. I have included explanatory notes where the records may appear strange.

All-time records:

1) 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.

2) 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,
1 Grey Cup (1957)

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

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

4) 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)

*- missed 6 regular season games in 1987 due to a mild heart attack, replaced for remainder of regular season by Ted Schmitz

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

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

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

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

The breakdowns (regular season / playoffs / GC (Grey Cup)) :


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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,

Russ, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Your highlighting of the records of the "Big Three" is a reminder that those years, 1950 through 1967 were really the Glory Years of the Ticat franchise.

Current fans, and those who have been fans only during the past 40 years have known nothing but ups and downs. I feel sorry for them, although there have been good moments.

But, the days of Voyles, Trimble, and Sazio were golden, and tied together in more than just sequence.

When Carl Voyles was brought in to coach in 1950, Sazio was one of the players he brought with him. Then Jim Trimble was also recruited by him to follow in the Head Coach position.

Those of us who had the pleasure of watching the team through those years were blessed as no fans since. Those three coaches were cut from the same mould. Tough, intelligent leaders, and a credit to the game and to the city they all adopted for their terms here.

You're very welcome, Wilf!

I figured we needed a hard list to refer to in the midst of a lot of debates about the organization and its history. It is the kind of arithmetic I have no problems wading into! :smiley: :smiley: D

The 1950-1967 era was awesome considering the continuity you mentioned. It was an era where the Canadian buck was more attractive for players south of the border and Hamilton (despite the often-maligned condition of Civic Stadium) was an elite program in the CFL.

For me, the number that is intriguing but not indicated is .571 -- the winning percentage of Ron Lancaster if the 2003 receivership debacle and the 2006 interim mop-up job are excluded from the discussion. Lancaster was 56-42-1 overall if those two lamentable campaigns are excepted from his record. For that (including the 1999 Grey Cup) AND being the guy who kept the ship going when the players were not even getting paid on time in 2003, Ron deserves to be on the Wall of Fame at IWS.

Oski Wee Wee,

One other quick point: I missed a tie for Bruno that I had tallied as a loss, which in fact places Bruno at .500, thus putting him ahead of Jerry Williams because of total wins.

I think that's the sole fix needed. Ugh. :smiley: :smiley: :wink:

Oski Wee Wee,

Good work, Russ.
Wise to rank them by stats and not by some arbitrary "greatness". Afterall Sazio had a multitude of great players Bruno, Lancaster much less so.
Maybe make a list of the lesser -lights like Dickson, Restic, Dorrow,Payne, Riley,Kush,Beckman....

I would compile a list of the "lesser lights," Zontar, but that would be depressing and more work figuring out when these guys got the hook! :wink:

Kush and Payne would be on a second tier for me simply because Kush had the big 11-4-1 year in 1981 and Payne did coach the Cats to the 1980 Cup final (only to be dismantled 48-10 by the Esks).

Maybe if I have a box of Kleenex handy I will log those defeats later...:smiley: :smiley:

Oski Wee Wee,

I think it was George Dickson who got the axe after he went on a post game radio interview and said the TiCats were "the worst organization I've ever been a part of".

I vaguely recall listening to that clip on the radio (CHML?) and losing the power of speech for a couple of minutes...LOL

Not one of the brightest moments in Tigertown, that's for sure.

Oski Wee Wee,

Bob Shaw salvaged that '76 season though, almost won the East with Jones, Jones and Edwards.

Handing the ball to Jimmy Edwards was a surefire way to even the playing field in the East, for sure. An amazing player whose run with the Cats was a few years too short, unfortunately.

I recall the 17-15 East final loss to Ottawa that year with a tinge of nostalgic regret. I was 11 at the time and it left an impression with me. That game was the Cats' to win and they let it slip away!

Oski Wee Wee,

Yep, apart from Edwards, 76 was similar to 04, a bit of a mirage.

Okay folks...and now the flipside of that auspicious list! LOL

I won't go into the breakdown aspect for these less successful coaches:

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

Replaced Don Sutherin during the 1997 season. Ugh.
The worst by winning percentage.

Z) David Beckman (1991-1992)
OVERALL 2-12 (.143)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V) John Payne (1978-1980)
OVERALL: 20-30-2 (.404)

Regular Season: 19-27-2 (.416)
Playoffs: 1-3 (.250)
1 Grey Cup defeat (1980)

Replaced Bob Shaw as coach for 1978. Lost the 1980 Grey Cup final to Edmonton 48-10 in Toronto and was subsequently replaced by Frank Kush.

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

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

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

T) Bud Riley (1982-1983)
OVERALL: 9-11-1 (.452)

Regular Season: 9-10-1
Playoffs: 0-1 (.000)

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

Not a lesser light, but still:

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

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

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

There! :wink:

Perhaps Zontar or someone else could refresh my memory as to when George Dickson was canned in 1976 so I can do his record as well as his successor, Bob Shaw...

Oski Wee Wee,

If someone could help me with that info, I can get the Dickson and Shaw records done and all Ticat head coaches will be accounted for.

In the meantime, I am recompiling the list chronologically and including record breakdowns for all coaches. I will include a ranking system as above. Once assembled, it should be the definitive list on the site.

Oski Wee Wee,

  1. Ron Lancaster (1998-2003, 2006)
    OVERALL: 60-69-1 (.465)
    Regular Season: 55-66-1 (.455)
    Playoffs: 5-3 (.625)
    1 Grey Cup defeat: (1998)
    1 Grey Cup (1999)

Thanks for your input, Ron. It reinforces my point that, at best, Ron Lancaster's coaching in Hamilton was rather mediocre with his .455 average.

Admittedly, he was strapped for money and talent throughout some of his tenure, but eventually, age and some ill health caught up with him anyway.

Thanks again for your incite and research. You are always a welcome addition on this site.

Fantastic stuff, Oski-O-O.

Thanks HA1912GCC -- I've got the all-time list redone except the George Dickson and Bob Shaw records. I've sent a PM to mightypope to get the info from the 1976 to finish the list.

When I do, I will post it in a new thread.

Oski Wee Wee,

Thanks for the hard work, Russ. I count 17 coaches on your list. I take it that includes every coach since the 1950 merger?

In the "Dare to Dream" category ... maybe one day this website will include team records and historical stats so that fans don't have to crunch the numbers themselves.

Hi ExPat,

As far as I know, my list will include all coaches since the 1950 merger, going from the historical references i have at hand. I am waiting on the info re 1976 so I can properly add George Dickson and Bob Shaw. The list will be definitive as far as I can surmise.

Oski wee Wee,