HAMILTON — It took 14 years, but Orlondo Steinauer has made his way back to Hamilton.
“It’s good to be back in the Black and Gold,” Steinauer told reporters shortly after being introduced as the new Defensive Coordinator of the Tiger-Cats.
The last time Steinauer, 39, was on the home sideline in Hamilton was in 1999, which coincidentally also happens to be the last time the Tiger-Cats won the Grey Cup.
On that team, Steinauer anchored a defence that was among the leaders in points allowed.
Could the return of Steinauer be what the Ticats need to take the next step in the East Division, and ultimately the entire league?
While that might be too soon to tell, it certainly couldn’t hurt. Steinauer, however, believes there’s still plenty of work to be done off the field before he begins concentrating on improving Hamilton’s defence on it.
“Right now we have to get staff in place,” said Steinauer.
“There are definitely some reasons why Hamilton missed the playoffs last year, but it’s a collective thing. I think there are a lot of good players here, we will evaluate all that with (Kent Austin) and we’ll ultimately field a very competitive team,” he added.
Steinauer’s arrival in Steeltown comes just short of a month after Kent Austin was named Head Coach and only three weeks after Tommy Condell was handed the reins to the powerful Ticats offence.
Suffice to say, the Ticats have been slowly – but surely – going through a change of identity.
Regardless of all the changes to his new club, Steinauer will be looking to stay true to himself as he looks to establish his own persona on the Ticats defensive front.
“I’m just going to be me,” he said.
“I’m going to be positive and upbeat and that’s the only way I know how to be. I’m going to work hard, I believe my effort have been rewarded, I think players like to play for me and I don’t think it will be any different here,” he added.
As a player, Steinauer suited up for 13 seasons with Ottawa (1996), Hamilton (1997-2000) and Toronto (2001-08), earning six East All-Star nods, five CFL All-Star honours and captured two Grey Cups.
Because of his on-field success that he enjoyed throughout his 13 years in the CFL, Steinauer understands the many trials and tribulations a player will undergo throughout his career.
As a result, he wasn’t prepared to make any declarations regarding his on-field personnel, stating that it wouldn’t be fair to pass judgment on something he isn’t fully educated on just yet.
“If you make a professional football team, there’s some talent there. So to sit here and say that the whole problem was everybody who was on the field, not at all. I’ll definitely have a lot of film to view and we’ll make some decisions before the off-season is over.
The 2013 season won’t be Steinauer’s first as a defensive coordinator. While with the Toronto Argonauts in 2011, Steinauer was promoted to the role after Chip Garber was relieved of his duties following a Week 6 loss to the Alouettes.
Because of that, in addition to the experience he had with Chris Jones last season, Steinauer feels he is well prepared for the task at hand.
“It was a different scheme; Chris Jones runs a lot different style of defence so I was able to learn a whole different way to prepare and have a different outlook on what you believe in,” he said.
“I’m standing here today as a collection of Don Sutherin and Rich Stubler and Gary Etcheverry and Daryl Edralin and Joe Moss and Chris Jones. I’m a collection of everybody plus I bring my own things to the table,” he added.
“I have a little bit of all that in me and we’re going to bring it all out there on the football field.”