Kent Austin to coach Tiger-Cats

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have hired former quarterback Kent Austin to be the club's head coach and head of the team's football operations.
Kent Austin won a Grey Cup as the Saskatchewan Roughriders' head coach in 2007. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have hired Kent Austin as the club's head coach and to oversee the CFL team's football operations.

Austin takes over as head coach from George Cortez, who was fired last week after compiling a 6-12 record in his first season with Hamilton. Cortez, who also handled offensive co-ordinator duties, started last January as the 21st head coach in Ticats' history after spending the previous two seasons as a quarterback coach with the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

The Ticats are also in need of a general manager, with incumbent Bob O'Billovich mulling over an offer to remain with the Hamilton franchise as a consultant.

Grey Cup winner

Kent Austin, coaching the Saskatchewan Roughriders in this 2007 file photo, holds up the Grey Cup after defeating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL's 95th Grey Cup in Toronto. (Fred Greenslade/Reuters)

Austin won a Grey Cup as the Saskatchewan Roughriders' head coach in 2007 and spent last season as the head coach at Cornell.

The 49-year-old also won a Grey Cup in 2004 as the Toronto Argonauts offensive co-ordinator and earned championship rings as a player with Saskatchewan in 1989 and B.C. in '94.

He is one of only four CFL quarterbacks to pass for more than 6,000 yards in a single season, throwing for 6,225 yards in '92 with Saskatchewan.

Austin entered the coaching ranks in 2003 as a quarterback coach with the Ottawa Renegades. The following season he joined the Argos and helped the team capture the Grey Cup.

He was fired by the Argos in the 2006 season, reportedly in part for not fully utilizing running back Ricky Williams, who played that year in Toronto while under suspension by the NFL for violating its drug policy.

Austin resurfaced quickly, being hired as Saskatchewan's head coach for the 2007 season. He helped guide the Roughriders to a 23-19 Grey Cup win over Winnipeg at Rogers Centre, becoming the first head coach to win a championship with the same team he did so as a quarterback.

That earned Austin the CFL's coach of the year award that year.

On Jan. 16, 2008, Austin became the offensive co-ordinator at the University of Mississippi, his alma mater. Two years later, he accepted the head coaching job at Cornell University and is coming off a season where his team posted a 4-6 record.

Over three seasons at Cornell, Austin compiled an 11-19 record.

Austin takes over a Hamilton team that featured one of the CFL's top offences under Cortez, but with a struggling defence that contributed mightily to the Ticats missing the playoffs