Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ticats sack their head coach

Cortez out as 6-12 club seeks 'change in direction'

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HAMILTON, Ont. -- George Cortez paid the price Tuesday for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' disappointing season as the CFL team fired him as head coach and director of football operations.

The firing came just over a month after the Ticats wrapped up a disappointing 6-12 season.

"After a thorough evaluation of our organization and our goals moving forward, we have determined that a change in direction is needed," team president Scott Mitchell said in a release. "We want to thank coach Cortez for his contributions to the Tiger-Cats and wish him well in his future endeavours. We will immediately begin the search for our new general manager and head coach."

Cortez said he was surprised but seemed to be taking his dismissal well when he talked to reporters Tuesday.

"That's the way things go," he said. "We didn't win enough games, and ultimately that's what you're judged on."

Asked if he would have done anything differently in Hamilton, he replied: "I would have won more games."

"I think we had a good plan of how we did things. It was pretty much based on places I'd been in the past and how we'd done things successfully in the past, so I don't do a lot of second-guessing."

Cortez said he would like to return to coaching next year, possibly as an offensive co-ordinator. He said he hasn't ruled out a return to the CFL's head-coaching ranks, but noted that right now, job vacancies are hard to come by. "I know, obviously, there's going to be a job in Ottawa in a year or two, but as of right now, there's no jobs out there."

The Ticats announced that Bob O'Billovich, their vice-president of football operations, has been offered a position as a consultant to the president and the football operations staff.

"Bob has done a very good job of bringing competitive football back to Hamilton, and we look forward to working with him for many years to come," Mitchell said.

O'Billovich was vice-president of football operations this year after four seasons as general manager.

Cortez, who was also offensive co-ordinator, became the 21st head coach in Ticats' history last January after spending the previous two seasons as a quarterbacks coach with the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

He has won four Grey Cup rings and has three decades of coaching experience in the CFL, NFL and NCAA. O'Billovich has also held several head-coach and front-office positions in a long CFL career.

Cortez had three years remaining on his contract.

His firing came just over a week after defensive co-ordinator Casey Creehan left the Tiger-Cats for the same position in Winnipeg. Hamilton is now without a head coach, general manager, offensive co-ordinator and defensive co-ordinator.

The Tiger-Cats will play their home games next year at the University of Guelph. A new 24,000-seat stadium is being built on the site of Ivor Wynne Stadium, their home for the past 84 years.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2012 D2

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