Obie, Mitchell must share blame
By Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency
|Ticats' general manager Bob O'Billovich fired head coach Marcel Bellefeuille Wednesday, but the team's problems run a lot deeper than their coach. (QMI Agency)
Marcel Bellefeuille took the fall in the Hammer, but there’s plenty of blame to go around, beginning at the top that begins and ends with Scott Mitchell and Bob O’Billovich.
Much like the Argos, the Ticats are entering a very critical stage as the southern Ontario football market desperately seeks a pulse and a reason to believe that it’s viable.
No move has been made in Hamilton without the consent of Mitchell, the team’s president, and Obie, the club’s general manager.
By dismissing Bellefeuille on Wednesday, the Ticats resorted to convenience, presenting a sacrificial lamb to a restless fan base that was titillated and tormented from week to week this past season, culminating with the most fitting of endings by winning a playoff game in such grand fashion, only to suffer an ignominious defeat against Winnipeg a Sunday later.
Bellefeuille must be held accountable for the team’s wildly inconsistent nature, but Mitchell and O’Billovich must also share in the blame.
If the Ticats aren’t able to get their house in order for next season, which means taking that next all-important step by appearing in the Grey Cup, then it’s time to show both Mitchell and O’Billovich the door and start anew.
That’s not a knock against either, two guys who are among the most accessible and accountable in the CFL.
It’s just a fact of football life when too often the Ticats have been lifeless.
Whether it was in his handling of veterans, the dithering at quarterback, a perceived lack of aggression inside the locker room, Bellefeuille had his warts.
In the end, he did help lead the Ticats to a post-season win, but it was how everything would end that ultimately cost him his job, even though management had made a commitment for next season.
When they lost 19-3 in the Winnipeg cold, Bellefeuille had effectively lost his job in the aftermath of the East final.
So listless were the Ticats, so ineffective on offence, so putrid in stopping the run, anyone could see that changes would follow.
And like in Toronto, more changes will follow in the Hammer.
The Ticats aren’t that far from Grey Cup worthy, but they require on-field leadership and stability at quarterback.
That’s where both Mitchell and O’Billovich must now focus their attention by addressing those needs.
The Argos got the jump on the Ticats by putting into place a new head coach and are also poised to announce that Steven Jyles has been locked up.
Part of the reason Toronto wanted to keep Jyles was to keep Hamilton from getting its paws on the athletic quarterback.
At the same time, though, it must be pointed out that Henry Burris still lingers in the shadow.
Given the inexperience among Hamilton’s assistants and how ineffective each side of the ball looked in the end, it’s no big surprise that the club will look outside to find Bellefeuille’s successor.
For his part, Bellefeuille, who has always taken the high road, probably won’t be unemployed for long.
As soon as news broke of his ouster, his name was linked to the Blue Bombers, who announced on the same day that Jamie Barresi had been dismissed as offensive co-ordinator.
Barresi, a Hamilton native, spent time with the Ticats and also served in B.C. and Saskatchewan.