Leading Men: Austin, Chamblin, Hufnagel up for hardware
OTTAWA — The final piece of hardware for the 2013 season is set to be handed out Wednesday in Ottawa, as the 2013 Coach of the Year will finally be announced.
The finalists – Calgary’s John Hufnagel, Saskatchewan’s Corey Chamblin and Hamilton’s Kent Austin – were announced in January.
Coverage of the 2013 Coach of the Year Luncheon will begin on CFL.ca at 12:25pm ET.
Kent Austin – Hamilton Tiger-Cats In just his first season as head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Kent Austin led his team to an appearance in the 101st Grey Cup, the team’s first showing in the championship game since 1999. But what may be most impressive is the journey Austin and the Tiger-Cats took to get there.
It all started in Guelph, Ontario, where the Ticats played their home games while Tim Hortons Field, their brand new stadium, is being built. With one of the youngest teams in the league, and playing their home games in a temporary stadium, the Ticats finished the season with a 10-8 record, good enough for second place in the East Division after starting the year with one win in their first five outings.
Finishing in second place earned them the opportunity to host a playoff game for the first time since 2010. Austin’s Ticats took full advantage, defeating the Montreal Alouettes 19-16 in adverse weather conditions at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.
The Ticats then defeated the Toronto Argonauts, the reigning Grey Cup champions and their long-time rivals, on their home turf in the Eastern Final. Austin won the Annis Stukus trophy in 2007 as head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Corey Chamblin – Saskatchewan Roughriders In a year full of high expectations, Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin delivered the ultimate prize: a Grey Cup. And not only did he lead the Riders to their fourth championship in franchise history, he did it by winning it in the heart of Rider Nation, on their home field at Mosaic Stadium.
After winning their first five games of the season, the Riders finished with an 11-7 record and second place in the West Division. They hosted the BC Lions in the Western Semi-Final and won 29-25. The Roughriders would go on to defeat the first place Calgary Stampeders in the Western Final 35-13 and earn a berth in the 101st Grey Cup.
In the Grey Cup, Chamblin’s Roughriders were up against the East Division Champion Tiger-Cats, a team led by head coach Kent Austin who won a Grey Cup as a head coach and quarterback with Roughriders in 1989 and 2007, respectively. Under the leadership of their second-year head coach, the Riders went on to defeat the Ticats 45-23 in front of their home crowd. This was the first time the Roughriders won the Grey Cup on Saskatchewan soil.
This is Chamblin’s first coach of the year nomination.
John Hufnagel – Calgary Stampeders In his sixth season as head coach and general manager of the Stampeders, Hufnagel guided the Stamps to a league-best 14-4 record. That was the best victory total by a CFL team since 2009 and the best by a West Division team since 2007.
The impressive record was accumulated despite the fact injuries forced the Stamps to use three different starting quarterbacks throughout the season. Calgary was also without key players such as Corey Mace and all-stars Dimitri Tsoumpas and Nik Lewis for extended periods.
The Stamps were either first or second in a number of categories including points scored, points allowed, home record and away record, net offence, rushing yards, sacks and fewest sacks allowed.
This is Hufnagel’s third nomination. He won the Coach of the Year award in 2008.