Ex-Ticats coach not hurting for being let go

By: Billy Powers

  |  Posted: Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 10:33 am

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When you decide to become a coach in professional sports, the one thing you know from the get-go is one day you are going to be fired.

Such are the ramifications of taking such a job.

Our old friend George Cortez found that out not long ago when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats decided that, after one season, he wasn’t the man they had given a four-year contract to less than a year before so he could take them to Grey Cup prominence once more.

It wasn’t to be, after a season of six wins and 12 losses and one that saw the Ticats miss the playoffs.

They had an exciting team, as led by former Calgary Stampeder quarterback Henry Burris. And while they could score, not at will but almost, the defence never held up its side of the bargain.

Hence the slam-bam, thank you ma’am, ending of Cortez’s time in the Steel City.

But let’s not weep for one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve met in my Canadian Football League experiences of almost a half a century. He did the smart thing and covered his butt, if you will.

The way I hear it, the contract was guaranteed. In other words, the Ticats are obliged to pay him the $400,000 annually whether he works there or not.

And, to top it off, the man who loves to coach can take a job elsewhere and still make money from Hamilton.

And what better way to stick it to the former employer by signing with, say, the Edmonton Eskimos as an offensive coordinator for $10,000 a year and still make $400 grand, the rest coming from Hamilton.

I know, it doesn’t seem fair. But life sometimes isn’t fair, as most of us find out at one time or another.

There are some contracts that call for payment after getting fired, but the deal ends if the guy who got turfed was to find another job.

I can tell you that Cortez will be working somewhere else and probably in short order because, like I said, he loves his work. He is not the kind of guy who would take the next three years off just to collect that money.

But, in this case, he doesn’t have to.

Whatever he signs for, and Edmonton called him the day of or at least the day after the Hamilton decision, the Ticats have to make up the difference.

And that is what we could call a sweetheart of a deal.

Before I go on to the same topic from a different angle, it was I who told Calgary Stampeder offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson that the Eskimos had wasted little time in contacting Cortez once he was fired. Dickenson’s reply was that he didn’t like it one bit.

Knowing that “Dicker” and George had been friends before, that reaction kind of surprised me until I pursued the subject further to discover that what he meant was not to indicate that he was upset that Cortez might have a new job. But if it were to come about, “it would make the Eskimos a much better football club having George on staff.”

It was interesting to see that the Hamilton picture developed as expected as they talked Kent Austin into taking over the club as both the head coach and general manager. You have to know he’ll be making as much, and probably more, than what Cortez had going for him.

Austin, as you probably know, had been at Cornell University but will not come in with little or no knowledge of the CFL game which has one extra player on the field. He has won Grey Cup titles as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

So he knows what he is getting into.

The next question in the CFL is, who will operate the soon to-be-reborn operation in the nation’s capital of Ottawa?

The club and people are saying it will be called the Ottawa Rush, if only because Roughriders have already been taken. Ottawa will return to the picture in 2014, but the team must starting taking shape long before that.

It will be most interesting watching this one develop as a league that for years was a nine-team family has operated with eight since the franchise in Ottawa went belly up in 2006. They do have an owner in businessman Jeff Hunt and a staff of one in former Stampeder quarterback Rick Worman, but that’s it.

A Rough Ride looms to be sure.

Today’s joke is about the little kid who asks his mother what happens when a cart gets old, rusty and won’t run any more? She replies: “Someone sells it to your father.”

Happy New Year everyone.


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