The morning of Nov. 20, the head coaches, Mike O’Shea and Orlando Steinhauer, met with the media at the Boyce Theatre on the Stampede grounds. It was an interesting setting with the media sitting in tiers of theatre seats before the stage looking down to the coaches on stage.
What struck me during the conference was the close personal connection between the coaches. They addressed each other as Oshie and Steinie.
They played together and not just in the CFL. Steinhauer said they were teammates for a time on the Detroit Lions.
As players on the same team, Steinhauer said O’Shea always gave the team the best chance to win. He spoke of how O’Shea’s preparation showed up at game time. He spoke of a time in Montreal when O’Shea noted how Ben Haskins acted out of a certain formation and said he was going to get this one.
O’Shea said on the road he would watch film at night or early in the morning. He said he might be laying on the floor and would look at the door hoping it would open. He liked hearing the door creak open as it would be Steinhauer coming to join him.
O’Shea said he always knew Steinhauer would be a coach but he never thought of himself as a coach. He had watched what coaches lose in lifestyle and was pretty sure he did not want to be coaching but once he was out of playing he realized what he had lost by not being with a team. He said he had been 15 months into another career when Jim Barker called him out of the blue to offer him a job and he accepted.
Steinhauer said he jumped into the media for about a year after his playing career. He was not sure he wanted to put his family through not knowing where they would be each year. He felt 12 years as a player had been a good run and thought he would be a guy commuting on the QEW (the freeway between Hamilton and Toronto). He accepted a job on Friday and then got a call on Sunday from Barker also offering him a job. After talking to his wife he took the coaching position.
Steinhauer said he would go to O’Shea’s house when he lived in Milton (an area in Mississauga) to talk about the season.
They often text or call. They are close enough that Steinhauer said they sometimes do not to say anything.
They know each other’s family well. Steinhauer had asked if O’Shea’s son, Michael, was coming to the Grey Cup. O’Shea spoke with pride of Steinhauer’s daughter, Kiana, being a top college rebounder at the University of Southern Connecticut and wanting a shirt from her university.
They are friends who O’Shea said remain highly competitive. He goes into the Grey Cup wanting to win with authority. Steinhauer said there will be no wave to each other after the coin toss.
It was a tradition at this conference for over 50 years for Jim “Shaky” Hunt to ask the coaches what they were telling their players about sex during Grey Cup Week. With Hunt gone Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun carries on the tradition.
O’Shea gave one of the greatest if not the greatest answer of all time:
“It’s been eight years since we climbed into this position and another 29 since we finished the job, so there’s going to be some nerves. The expectations are very high and the anticipation can sometimes ruin the event. So, I guess my guidance to the players would be don’t exhaust yourselves in the warmup.”