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Why Orlondo Steinauer's Name Keeps Popping Up as the Next UW Defensive Coordinator

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach is readying his team for Sunday's Grey Cup.

Orlondo Steinauer is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football coach busy preparing his team for Sunday's 108th Grey Cup in that snowy Ontario city against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

At the same time, his name keeps emerging as a strong candidate to become the University of Washington defensive coordinator on Kalen DeBoer's staff.

So why would he make such a move from the CFL to the Pac-12?

Actually, his hiring by the UW makes sense for a lot of reasons.

Steinauer, 48, would enjoy a triumphant return home to Seattle, his birthplace. He played his football for suburban Lynnwood High School and then in Bellingham for Western Washington University's now-defunct program.

He has a DeBoer connection. In 2017, Steinauer coached alongside the new UW leader when they were the Fresno State defensive and offensive coordinators, respectively, for a Jeff Tedford-coached team that improved dramatically from 1-11 to 10-4 while they were together.

Money, naturally. By coming to the UW, Steinauer likely would triple his annual CFL salary of $350,000, matching the $1 million that Pete Kwiatkowski earned as the Husky DC in 2020 before leaving for Texas.

Need more? Just look at this man shoveling snow in the Twitter video four days before the CFL's biggest football game of the year and tell us he doesn't yearn for balmy Montlake.

First things, first. 

Steinauer must ready his Tiger-Cats (8-6) for Sunday's big game, which kicks off in Hamilton at 3 p.m. PT and will be shown on ESPN2. He's won two Grey Cups as a player and another as an assistant coach. 

The CFL has asked that teams, or schools for that matter, trying to pry its coaches loose wait until 48 hours after the Grey Cup so as not to distract from the league's big moment.

Steinauer is a hot commodity after playing 13 CFL seasons and coaching another dozen in the league.  

A safety and cornerback for the defunct Ottawa Rough Riders, Hamilton and the Toronto Argonauts, he intercepted 49 career passes for 1,178 return yards, the second most in league history. He was a five-time CFL all-star, a seven-time all-division pick.

Orlondo Steinauer is introduced as the Hamilton coach in 2019.

Orlondo Steinauer was named Hamilton coach in 2019. 

Turning to coaching, Steinauer became a Toronto and Hamilton defensive coordinator before leaving for his one-year college football coaching sojourn at Fresno State and then back to Canada to eventually become the Tiger-Cats head coach in 2019. 

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His big-play defenses over the past decade consistently have been some of the most feared in the CFL. In 2015 alone, the Tiger-Cats scored six times on interception returns and twice on fumble recoveries. A season later, Hamilton came up with 17 interceptions and recovered 19 fumbles. 

Fresno State?

Tedford learned of Steinauer while he was head coach of the CFL's B.C. Lions in 2015 and, following a season at the UW as a consultant, convinced him to join him on his new staff at the Mountain West school in 2017. The turnaround from double-digit loser to double-digit winner over 12 months was only the second for an FBS team.

Steinauer returned to the CFL when June Jones coaxed him back north to join his Tiger-Cats staff as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2018. He became a popular choice to replace Jones as the franchise's 26th coach the following season while the B.C. Lions also considered him a serious head-coaching candidate. 

In his debut season as a CFL head coach in 2019, Steinauer guided Hamilton to a franchise-best 15-3 record and into the Grey Cup, where the Tiger-Cats lost 33-12 to Winnipeg.

The CFL canceled last season because of the pandemic.

This year, Steinauer got his team to bounce back from an 0-2 start to earn a Grey Cup rematch with the Blue Bombers.

As far as UW connections go, he was a Lynnwood High senior in 1991 when Don James coached the Huskies to a national championship and a perfect 12-0 season. Passed over in recruiting, he played at Western Washington in 1992-95 for former UW running back Rob Smith. 

As a college senior, Steinauer answered to new Vikings linebacker coach David Shaw, now the Stanford head coach. He intercepted 20 passes in his career and was a consensus FCS All-America selection. He began his coaching career the following season as a defensive-backs coach for Smith at Western and alongside Shaw, who became the tight-ends coach.

Steinauer just missed playing with fellow safety Jimmy Lake, who was committed to Western in 1995 only to change his mind at the last minute and play for Eastern Washington. 

Lake, of course, is the reason the Huskies are looking for a new defensive coordinator after getting fired. 

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