The Saskatchewan Roughriders have named Kent Austin, a former quarterback with the CFL team,as new head coach.
"It's great to be back," Austin told CBC Radio on Wednesday morning, before a formal announcement was made in the afternoon that he had signed a three-year contract. "I've always had a desire to be a head coach."
Austin, who as quarterback led the Roughriders to a Grey Cup victoryin 1989, had most recently worked as offensive co-ordinatorfor the Toronto Argonauts. He has been looking for a job since August, when the Argos fired him.
The head-coach position has been open since last month, when Danny Barrett left the club after seven seasons.
Austin spent 10 seasonsas a player in the CFL and had worked previously with general manager Eric Tillman— one of the qualitiesTillmanwas seekingin his new head coach during a 10-day search.
Announcing the hiring later in the day, Tillman made no bones about hiring a friend for the job, describing Austin as a man he believes will bring a winning spirit, despite his lack of experience as a head coach.
'He's a tough guy'
He also indicated heexpects Austin to instil more discipline on a team that has seen several players get in trouble with the law in past few years.
"You know, he's a tough guy," Tillman said. "Guys will be held accountable. People will not be on scholarship."
Tillman added he and Austin philosophically agreeon how they wanttheir players to conduct themselves in the community.
Austin left Regina following the end of the 1993 season after being asked to be traded, much to the displeasure ofmany fans.
Austin, 43, said he'd be lying if he said he didn't have any regrets about his departure, adding he has matured since then. He said he and his family will be living in Regina year-round.
He wants to focus on bringing another Grey Cup home to Saskatchewan, he said.
TheRoughriders made it to the playoffs this year, but lost to the B.C. Lions in the West final with Kerry Joseph as quarterback.
Asked in the morning about Joseph's future with the team, Austin said, "If the quarterback is not good enough to win, we need to go in a different direction."
Later in the day, Austin said he hasn't yet made any decisions about changes to staffing or players.