HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Tuesday that Vice-President of Football Operations, General Manager and Head Coach Kent Austin has been signed to a contract extension. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Kent Austin has done an outstanding job in every way since he joined the organization. He’s one of the brightest minds in professional football and we’re thrilled that he has made such a serious commitment to the Tiger-Cats, the City of Hamilton and our incredible fans,” said Scott Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of the Tiger-Cats. “Coach Austin has assembled a tremendous group of coaches, personnel staff and players, and while the results thus far speak for themselves, we all feel very strongly that the best is yet to come. This is a great day for everybody associated with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.”
Austin, who joined the Tiger-Cats on December 17, 2012, has led Hamilton to a combined 29-25 record, two East Division titles, three Eastern Final appearances, and Grey Cup games in 2013 and 2014. He was a finalist for the CFL Coach of the Year award in 2013 when the Ticats became the first team in league history to reach the Grey Cup without a single CFL all-star. The native of Natick, Massachusetts has captured a Grey Cup championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach in his career.
“I’m very grateful to Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and our entire organization for this extension and believing in our vision for this team,” said Austin. “A great foundation has been built the past few seasons, and we’ll continue to develop our program to ensure the opportunity for not only short-term but sustained success. Simply put, it’s easy to wake up excited every day when you work with such tremendous individuals who share the common goal of just being the best.”
Prior to joining the Tiger-Cats, Austin spent five years in the NCAA from 2008 to 2012, the latter three as the head coach at Cornell University. In 2011, he guided the Big Red to its first .500 record (5-5) since 2007, while setting a school record by scoring at least 24 points in eight consecutive games and establishing 11 new school records, including passing yards and points scored.
Austin also spent two seasons (2008-09) as Offensive Coordinator at the University of Mississippi, his alma mater. The Rebels averaged 405 yards and 30.8 points per game under Austin’s tutelage, scoring the most points in a two-year span in school history. In 2008, he helped Ole Miss engineer its biggest turnaround since 1947, finishing with a 9-4 record one year after a 3-8 campaign.
Austin’s first stint as a head coach came in 2007 when he was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year after leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 12-6 record and the franchise’s first Grey Cup championship in 18 years. His previous CFL experience includes serving as a quarterbacks coach with the Ottawa Renegades (2003) and an offensive coordinator with the Toronto Argonauts (2004-06). Two quarterbacks under Austin’s guidance have been named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player, Damon Allen in 2004 and Kerry Joseph in 2007.
As a player, he enjoyed a successful 11-year pro career at quarterback that began with the St. Louis Cardinals after they selected him in the 12th round of the 1986 NFL Draft. Following one year with the Cardinals, Austin spent 10 seasons in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1987-93), B.C. Lions (1994), Toronto Argonauts (1995) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1996). He is currently the CFL’s 12th all-time leading passer with 36,030 yards, while his 198 career touchdown passes ranks 13th in CFL history. He earned Grey Cup rings with the Lions in 1994 and Roughriders in 1989, taking home Grey Cup MVP honours in the Riders’ memorable 43-40 win over Hamilton.
Austin played four years at Ole Miss and remains one of the school’s most celebrated pivots. He ranks third in career completions (556) and attempts (981), fourth in passing yardage (6,184), and fifth in passing touchdowns (31) and total offense (6,179). During his playing days as a Rebel, he was a three-time SEC Player of the Week and was named to the Academic All-SEC team from 1982-85. He was honoured with the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award in 1985 and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate scholarship in 1986.
In 2000, he was elected to the University of Mississippi’s Sports Hall of Fame. Austin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1985.