Holiday football coach shake-up
By Alex Chiang
When the new varsity football season kicks off in September, the best and the worst teams in the Ontario University Athletics conference will have new head coaches at their helms.
On Dec. 19, the University of Waterloo department of athletics announced the promotion of assistant coach Chris Triantafilou and the next day, the University of Windsor followed suit hiring Mike Morencie to an interim position.
Triantafilou, who has been on the Waterloo Warrior coaching staff since 1988 and has been the team's defensive coordinator for the past six seasons, says the team will continue to play its brand of smash-mouth football with a strong rushing game and a punishing defence. Triantafilou does, however, have the ominous task of having to replace the coach with the most wins in Canadian university football history, Dave "Tuffy" Knight.
"[Knight's] the winningest coach in the country, so of course things are going to remain pretty much close to the status quo," Triantafilou said. "He brought credibility to the program, laid a solid foundation and has given us direction. I'm not going to try to fill his shoes, but I do want to build on what he's left us."
Knight, however, is confident that his successor is very capable of being a successful head coach.
"Chris will do a great job," Knight said. "He worked hard as an assistant coach and he has a good knowledge of the game."
The coaching change came as a surprise considering Waterloo was coming off its most successful season ever, beating Western in November for the school's first Yates Cup.
According to Knight, the university administrators did not offer him a new contract because they wanted to go in a different direction.
"I don't know what direction they want to go in," Knight said. "My direction hasn't changed since I started coaching and that is I always wanted to win.
"It's disappointing that it was done under these circumstances. I think maybe the athletic department wasn't appreciative of what we had accomplished."
While the Warriors met expectations last season, the Windsor Lancers underachieved, finishing in last place with an 0-8 record, prompting the resignation of head coach John Musselman on Dec. 2 after 11 seasons at the helm.
Musselman's successor, Mike Morencie, spent the past two seasons as the team's offensive coordinator and will be looking to reverse the school's long-standing reputation of ineptness.
"We had a relatively young team last season and they showed a lack of maturity but they got a hell of a lot of experience," Morencie said. "We want to be more proficient offensively and defensively and we have to change philosophically in what we do."
Morencie feels the key to reversing the Lancers misfortunes will be found in the team's recruiting strategy.
"We need to be a much stronger force recruiting-wise especially in Toronto where it's a tough sell to get kids to come," he said. "We've also had trouble keeping the best kids [around Windsor] at home, so we'll have to look into that."