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By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor - Archive - Email
Looking for a new leader
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - It's not what it appeared to be.

Last Friday afternoon, word spread through the city of Hamilton that Scott Mitchell will not be president of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats when they move into the new Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2014.

Mitchell confirmed he will remain CEO of owner Bob Young's Canadian businesses, including the Tiger-Cats, but he will hire a new president for the football team.

Mitchell has been the Tiger-Cats president since January 2007 and until last Friday the team had a record of 35-65 in those five years.

In that period, the Tiger-Cats made the playoff three times but hadn't been to the Grey Cup.

Almost immediately, the chat lines started burning, and the e-mails started flying, with most people thinking the move was a way for the organization to save face, by, in essence, kicking Mitchell upstairs; something that he emphatically denied.

"It's something we've been talking about since I accepted the role of CEO of Bob's group of companies last fall," he said.

"In fact, we thought we had a perfect candidate in the spring, but the timing wasn't right. It's something that's been a long, planned-out process, and we're looking forward to getting someone in here to lead the charge."

Mitchell explained what the new person's role will be.

"We'll need to have someone, especially as we work towards the new stadium, Grey Cup and so on, a senior business executive, a president/COO type, to come in and lead the business," he said. "I think it's a great chance for a fresh perspective, a fresh face to lead the franchise, and it's something I'm looking forward to."

"Not only do I have a lot of responsibilities with Bob (Young) but I think there's always a place for one senior executive to run the business operations. We've got a great group of executives with the Tiger-Cats right now. We had a vice president who left us last year to run an insurance company, which was a great job for him. This is just a matter of having a succession plan in place, and making sure we have enough resources in place."

Trying to marry the football operations with the business side of a CFL team requires a delicate balance and, Mitchell said, the ideal candidate can do both.

"I think it's someone that has a great and successful background in business," he noted. "Our commodity is selling tickets and corporate partnerships and building the brand. I think it's someone who's got an extensive marketing and sales background, ideally someone's who got a sports background. Those aren't the easiest people to find, so it's going to take some time. We'll hopefully have someone in place sooner than later, hopefully no later than when we move into the new stadium."

He also defended what the team accomplished on the field under his watch.

"I'm extremely proud of what we've done," he said. "We've taken over a franchise that didn't have a lot of success both on and off the field. We've turned it into a perennial playoff team, a very competitive and well-respected organization."

Meantime, vice president of football operations Bob O'Billovich's role with the team will change as well.

"Our tenure started together, this is our fifth full season," Mitchell said. "He's done a great job, very well-respected. Obie made it clear to me that he didn't want to be working the hours that he's been working the last five years forever. There'll always be a place for Bob O'Billovich in our organization. Realistically by 2014, he'll have moved into a consultants role."

While 2014 remains a big year for the organization, there's one big question from Tiger-Cats fans.

With Ivor Wynne Stadium scheduled to be torn down and renovated immediately after this season, where will the team play next year?

Still no answer.


Just when it appeared things couldn't get any worse for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, they did.

Friday night, toward the end of the Blue Bombers' 44-3 loss in Calgary, the TSN cameras showed several shots of Blue Bombers players laughing and yukking it up on the sidelines.

Interim head coach Tim Burke, who looks more bedraggled every day, was not impressed.

"I showed them the video of the TSN broadcast and what they were saying at halftime and then during the latter part of the game and I said, 'This is your resume. This is what people in the outside world are thinking about you. So you've got to figure out how you're going to respond to that. Are you going to do it with pride or are you going to tuck your tail and run?' So we'll see how they respond."

The Blue Bombers host Hamilton Friday night. The Blue Bombers are 2-9, while the Tiger-Cats, who broke a five-game losing streak by destroying Edmonton, 51-8, on Saturday, hold a 4-7 record.

"The good people of Winnipeg pay good money to watch them play and this is an attendance-driven league," Burke said. "Their salaries are being paid by the fans of Winnipeg, so they deserve more than what they're getting."


Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

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