Ti-Cats Fire Marshall

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 0-4 after a close loss last Thursday in Montreal, announced the firing of head coach Greg Marshall today. Senior Director of Football Operations Ron Lancaster will assume the head coaching position in the interim.

There are some interesting aspects to this decision. First, why would the Ti-Cats wait until Monday when the decision was probably known no later than Friday? Likely because the interim head coach Lancaster was in Regina on the weekend for the ’66 Grey Cup 40th reunion, and they needed to discuss with him and/or wanted him in Hamilton for the announcement. Another point to consider is that Bob Young moved Lancaster to the front office when he took over the club so to bring in Greg Marshall. Now Young was turfing Marshall to re-institute Lancaster as head coach (albeit for the interim), who was put out to pasture as a coach who had lost his connection with the players. Lancaster is an obvious choice for the interim role though. While Joe Paopao has head coaching experience, he lacks a winning record and has offensive coordinator duties to focus on. Lancaster can step in for a few weeks, light a fire under the players and maybe pull out some wins while GM Rob Katz searches for the permanent head coach. Despite the fact that available coaches with CFL experience are not plentiful right now, I would expect Katz to have a replacement hired within a month, allowing Lancaster to return to his position before the mid-point of the season.

Although the rumours were rampant that Marshall had to win Thursday to save his job, I expected him to last a few more weeks. First, the Cats have been close in all their games, lacking a few plays here and there from being 2-2 or 3-1. Second, Hamilton did not seem to be in a dire situation after four games, with infighting, fans staying away in droves, or any other of the conditions that cause a coach to lose his job. Here at Overtime Central we were planning on a coach watch, to monitor Marshall’s situation and poll readers on who they thought would be fired first, if at all, Greg Marshall in Hamilton or Saskatchewan’s Danny Barrett. Today’s announcement puts those plans to rest.

However, this raises a question. How long can Danny Barrett last if the ‘Riders continue their losing ways? Barrett is on the last year of his deal; should the ‘Riders see it through to the end? Alternatively, should the ‘Riders try to salvage the season? The next two games will be critical for Saskatchewan. First, they travel to B.C., site of their season open drubbing at the hands of the Lions. Although the ‘Riders only win came against B.C., their weaknesses have been exposed even more this past weekend. After B.C., Toronto visits Taylor Field after a bye week with Damon Allen expected to make his return from a broken finger. While Damon Allen has a history of starting slow when returning from an injury and the Argos are struggling, things never seem to play out how you would expect in Saskatchewan.

I believe the ‘Riders still possess the talent necessary. The defence, the strength in previous years, should be as strong as the new players are just as talented as their predecessors are. While they have looked more wide-open on offence, they are falling victim to too many momentum killers in turnovers and missed opportunities. This all leads to coaching in my opinion. If the losses continue to mount, I think Barrett should be relieved in favour of someone else. Now there is an option out there in Greg Marshall, the ability to bring in somebody to shake up the players is a possibility instead of having to look at promoting from within. Then perhaps the season could be salvaged.

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