West coast shocker: Stefan Ptaszek accepts job at UBC

Stefan Ptaszek is taking his talents to Kits Beach.

The former McMaster Mauraders head coach has spent the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats but will return to the Canadian university ranks as the OC of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.

In doing so, the 46-year-old is turning down at least one head coaching opportunity – sources say the University of Toronto coveted the 46-year-old for their top job – in order to take a coordinator position. But after two years with the Ticats and having already won a Vanier Cup at Mac, Ptaszek is ready for a different challenge.

“For my personal health, the UBC offer is the one,” Ptaszek said. “A year to catch my breath, not that it’s going to be easy, but it’s right in front of you: get first downs and touchdowns. It’s not head coaching where you’re fundraising, recruiting and all that other stuff. I’ll help recruit and get ready for the season, but I get some time with my family.”

While Vancouver – and Kitsilano Beach – are a long way from his home in Dundas, Ptaszek has worked out a family-friendly arrangement with head coach Blake Nill that will see him stay in Ontario until just before the start of the 2018 USports season.

“I get six months right now to be the best dad and husband I can be and head out to Vancouver in the summer and start supporting Coach Nill and the Thunderbird program,” Ptaszek said. “I sat down with my family and picked the option that was going to be the best for my three children and my talented wife. That’s always going to be the trump card.”

UBC and Ptaszek agreed to a one-year deal but both sides are open to making it a long-term relationship.

While Ptaszek has spent the majority of his coaching career in Ontario, he actually got his start with the Thunderbirds while doing his MBA in 2001 when then-head coach Jay Prepchuk hired him to be special teams coordinator and receivers coach. After finishing grad school and coming back to Ontario, Ptaszek was hired as the offensive coordinator at Wilfrid Laurier University for three seasons (2003-2005), winning two Yates Cups and a national crown in 2005.

That success earned him the head coach job at McMaster University where he spent 10 years (2006-2015), winning three Ontario University Athletics championships and one Vanier Cup title in 2011. During that time the Marauders set a Canadian University football record for the longest win streak at 21 games. And he was the CIS Coach of the Year in 2012.

Then an opportunity with the hometown CFL team came about and Ptaszek took the offensive coordinator position with Hamilton. He learned under two former CFL quarterbacks and offensive minds in Kent Austin and June Jones.

“Two brilliant guys that I got to work with and they were so different,” Ptaszek. “Kent’s offences and ways to break down defences were as layered and as cool as you’d ever see and there was a brilliance to it all. With June, there was a simple brilliance to it and the rules, it’s not complicated even a little bit. There are pieces that all football players can execute, the rules actually aren’t that hard and once they’re implemented right it’s really tough to defend.”

Ptaszek will leverage the new teachings in his offensive philosophy and scheme.

“June was such a huge protection guy and I learned a ton from and I never thought this before, but as an offensive coordinator your first job is to protect your quarterback and then you go from there. When you start to build a game plan, that’s where you start and I absolutely believe that having watched June go to work,” Ptaszek said.

The 18 game CFL season is a marathon compared to the eight-game USports regular schedule and that should make things easier on family life.

“You get a little beat up, especially in Ticat land it was not always the smoothest ride,” Ptaszek said. “A USports season will be an exciting, pleasant change.”

UBC has an elite passer in place to run Ptaszek’s scheme that has produced some gaudy quarterback numbers. Michael O’Connor enters his fourth year as a Thunderbird since transferring from Penn State University. From his CFL experience and being around some special quarterbacks, Ptaszek feels O’Connor could be a Canadian who possesses pro calibre traits.

“He is the real deal,” Ptaszek said. “He can make all the throws, I’ll tell you that.”

For Ptaszek, coaching O’Connor at UBC while still being able to spend time with his family is the ideal combination at the perfect time. Not quite a day at the beach but close enough.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (938 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

21 Comments on West coast shocker: Stefan Ptaszek accepts job at UBC

  1. Must be some hard feelings between the Mac head coach and Ptaszek. The answer to the Mac offence problems was right in front of them and they passed. The team could of been great.

  2. I hope it works out for him. But Mac could use him and U of t would be a challenge that could him become as well known as a coach as Marshall, Hill and Constantin

    • He’s already been to three vanier cups, won one in one of the biggest upsets, I’d say he’s already in the same category as those other coaches

  3. Being a coach in the CFL is a full time job. A CIS coach is a part time job.
    A the OC for the Ticats he wasn’t up for the job. Let’s face it if he was not Canadian he would’ve been fired mid-season.

    • Yep… that coaching ratio rule CFL teams are saddled with is a real be-itch [/sarcasm]

      Good luck to him. Who knows if Knox had offered him anything, but change is good and he’s going to a great program.

  4. Jeff Dawson // December 9, 2017 at 2:11 pm //

    Excellent hire and real nice scoop for JD and 3Downnation too. Looking forward to seeing what Ptaszek can do here on the west coast.

  5. Billinburlington // December 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm //

    Clearly a family decision. I’m happy for him and wish him luck- unfortunately he didn’t gat a chance in Hamilton under Kent to show his real stuff. 15

  6. Karlo Berkovich // December 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm //

    My sources (Hamilton Spec reporters); I cover OUA in KW, is he felt marginalized as OC in Hamilton, despite the nice words in this article. He was a great player HS (covered him then), university and did play in CFL, and a great coach and motivator. Best to him.

  7. solara2000 // December 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm //

    Wish him well. While his feelings about ‘being marginalized’ are conjecture, Stephan demonstrates he is a true professional who understands nothing is gained by burning your bridges. High road always takes you to higher places.

  8. dangerdan21 // December 9, 2017 at 6:19 pm //

    Glad he got out of that snake pit in Hamilton
    the way he was traded was similar to Gregg Marshall

    • Not similar at all.

      Marshall hire: new owner thinking that a locally successful coach (at the university level) would be a good way to get his new team started out on the right footing, without considering whether he was really the right hire for the longer term.

      Ptaszek hire: established coach looking for a new OC but few candidates are available at that time of the offseason, offers opportunity for a locally successful coach (at the university level) but refuses to relinquish his control over the way the offense is played… then that OC has to deal with change in the ranks above.

      The only similarities are that both coaches learned something from their experiences and have/will apply it in the CIS, and either or both could be back in the CFL some day, better than they were. They have that in common.

      • Marshall at least was able to set his own direction.

        I am also not sure the owner or whatever the source of firing Marshall was correct that he was not a good long term hire. As I recall, firing Marshall made little difference. The same problems continued through the rest of 2006.

  9. Glad to see a quality coach and person land in a much better situation.

  10. Good luck to Stefan….he deserved better treatment than he got from this dysfunctional Ticat regime.

  11. Chronoclasm // December 10, 2017 at 10:35 am //

    Absolute best to Coach P. — he’s a class act, and was not treated well in TicatLand. Really sorry to see that Mac didn’t find a way to bring him back.
    If Mac and UBC meet in the playoffs it will be a treat to see the best OC vs. the best DC in the CIS.

  12. I like Stefan P. but he didn’t seem comfortable in the CFL
    I’m sure he’ll do great back in college ball!

  13. Wow. Blake Nill as HC with Stefan Ptasek as OC, that’s just crazy. Expect UBC to contend for the Vanier Cup the next few years.

  14. Sounds like Ptasek was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody likes to do a job with 1 hand tied behind their back as appears to be the case with the TiCats. With another CFL team in the right circumstances hard telling the results may of been much different. Sure his time at the pro ranks will help him at UBC and in future opportunities also.

  15. Dundas dude // December 11, 2017 at 10:02 pm //

    Good stuff. Sounds like he needs to take some time after the pressure cooker in Hamilton. Sounds like he’ll be head coach somewhere, next year. Western certainly cranked it up to Laval’s level this year, and it sounds like UBC has some quality leadership to make the jump too. This is quality, entertaining football…too bad Sports Net has the broadcast rights. Hopefully Ptaszek returns to Mac or UofT next year.

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