HAMILTON — Changes continue to take place in Hamilton and this one is the most significant yet.
The Tiger-Cats announced Thursday afternoon that Kent Austin has stepped down as head coach and appointed June Jones as his replacement. Austin will remain with the club as the team’s Vice President of Football Operations.
“June and I have established a great relationship, and I feel comfortable and very confident with him handling the on-field product moving forward,” Austin said in a statement. “This organization, its fans and partners deserve a championship calibre team and we fully expect to work together to return us to that level.”
The change comes on the heels of an 0-8 start and during the team’s bye week as they prepare to take on the Toronto Argonauts in the traditional Labour Day contest.
Jones joined the Tiger-Cats earlier this month as Assistant Head Coach on August 2. He has served as a head coach for over 20 years in his career, including stints in the NCAA at Southern Methodist University (2008-14) and the University of Hawaii (1999-2007), and in the National Football League with the San Diego Chargers (Interim – 1998) and Atlanta Falcons (1994-96).
In over four-and-a-half seasons as sideline boss in Hamilton, Austin finished his head coaching tenure with a record of 36-44 and led the Tabbies to two Grey Cup appearances and a trio of Eastern Final appearances.
CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson weighed in on the shakeups in Tigertown Thursday afternoon and says that the moves allow Austin to continue through with his vision over the club while allowing Jones more influence in game management, specifically in the offence.
“The departure of Kent Austin as Head Coach in favour of June Jones is a fresh start for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2017,” Ferguson said. “Everything in the Tiger-Cats organization has Austin’s finger prints on it and that will likely continue off the field.
“The great difference here is that on field control is solely in the possession of Jones who we still know very little about. As a result, the Ticats direction moving forward will be determined by new ideas and a fresh approach.”