New Ticats special teams boss brings wealth of NFL experience

Normally the bulk of guest coaches, especially the bigger names, depart training camp after the first week.

So when Frank Gansz Jr. – who most notably led the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs’ special teams unit through several years of accolades – was still out there in week two and beyond, you suspected this wasn’t temporary.

So it was only a formality when Gansz was officially named as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Special Teams Coordinator earlier this week, because he’d been the main voice on the field during punting and kicking teams drills for over a fortnight.

The Ticats had originally planned to coordinate special teams by committee and, functionally, there’s still a lot of that going around.

Former all-star safety Craig Butler is, less than a year after his retirement as a player, working closely with the 55-year-old Gansz. Butler is, according to head coach June Jones, doing “most of the preparation, most of the game planning and they kind of work together on the schemes. Frankie takes the lead on the field with Craig behind the scenes directing him.”

Orlondo Steinauer figures into the planning mix too.

There are a couple of trees involved here; a family one and a coaching one. Gansz is the son of the late, legendary, Frank Sr., who spent 20 years in the NFL coordinating special teams. Senior worked for Jones at SMU in 2008, Junior was with Jones there a couple of years later.

Gansz Jr. spent nine years coordinating NFL special teams: in Oakland and Baltimore, along with the five years (2001-05) with the Chiefs.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time and I was around my dad for all those years, so the concepts and people, I just developed a fondness for them,” Gansz says. “And you get to coach everybody on the team. I think that, everywhere, special team coaches and coordinators are under-rated in their value to a team.

“They work with all the players and they’re in a pressure situation, especially up here.  The stats are that 65 per cent of the games in this league are won in the last three minutes so the kicking game, with three downs, is absolutely huge.”

Gansz coached future Ticat and Argonaut star Adriano Belli at the University of Houston so he already knew there were excellent players in the CFL, and he’s been even more impressed with the talent depth since he got here.

He says that Butler has “been super” with him, especially in detailing the priorities of the three-down game.

“Techniques and some of the things schematically they’re very, very similar,” Gansz says of the cross-border compare-and-contrast. “But I’d say there are many more similarities than there are things that aren’t the same.”

Last year’s special teams coordinator Dennis McKnight is now the team’s offensive line coach.

NOTES: New running back John White, a 2014 CFL all-star, was on the field Wednesday but both he and June Jones say it’ll be a couple of weeks until he gets back up to game conditioning after missing the last 16 games with Edmonton last year with a torn ACL . . . Alex Green, who had been expected to start at running back, will be lost for two weeks with a hand injury . . .Hamilton native DT Travis Vaughn is off the field under concussion protocol after an injury Saturday in Montreal  . . . Johnny Manziel says “there’s definitely no room for getting bored. Everything right now is new and fresh and interesting.”

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (211 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

21 Comments on New Ticats special teams boss brings wealth of NFL experience

  1. Maybe they start Timmis? Opens up options in the receiving crew.
    ST’s were the bright spot in the preseason.

  2. RalphInTheCreek // June 14, 2018 at 10:03 am //

    Coach June Jone’s dosn’t seem to have trouble attracting coaches. My guess is because he a good guy.

    • Tiger man // June 14, 2018 at 10:43 am //

      Coaching over that many years both in the NFL and NCAA brings with it a wealth of contacts.

      Our new ST coach not only brings a wealth of knowledge also a good deal of success….

  3. They definitely needed someone better versed with Special Teams for this year. The blocking on kick and punt returns was abysmal last year, and Dionte Spencer’s record-setting game against the Cats last year was proof we needed an upgrade on the unit as a whole. Dennis McKnight is a very good coach, but specials are not his forte.

  4. I’m always amazed at how people gush over ex NFL players and coaches. No wonder why people who don’t really follow our game get the impression it’s second rate. The guy may turn out to be a great coach, but I wonder how much he brings from his tenure as an NFL Special teams coach. Here the kicking game is more important, no fair catch, we have a rouge etc. Not saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing, just that past experience in the NFL doesn’t mean he’s automatically going to do well here.

    • Trestman… and also June Jones was an ex-NFL coach and he made an immediate difference! And he brings respect and credibility… that’s one of the reasons Gansz came up. And, the NFL commentators speaking about Manziel, heap praise upon June Jones.

      Someone commented about Bart Andrus, etc. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does. Seems to be more hit an miss with ex NFL QB’s. Rarely do they deliver… Manziel may be the first in a long time.

  5. Another ridiculous buddy-system hire with ZERO experience in the CFL by June Jones.

    This has disaster written all over it.

    Gansz has always been a useless ST coach as evidenced with him bouncing around from one job to another every couple of seasons.

    The only reason he’s in football is because he leveraged off his daddy’s friends.

    TiCats ST will be just as terrible with this clown as they were with Denny McKnight last year.

    • Area 51, you never miss an opportunity to be a dick.

    • MR. Green // June 14, 2018 at 6:35 pm //

      Area51 you continue to contradicting yourself. Your methos would mean Trestman would not even be on your team. As well you don’t like how the Riders bring in 4 quality control coaches, who are actually there to learn and develop behind experienced coaches. These 4 new coaches share the salary of one coach.
      This way they get experience. When someone takes them away in the off-season which has happened 2 straight years, next guy steps up. Next year we won’t be developing these guys.
      What a ridiculous statement. Yes coaches succeed and fail. Always have, always will.
      Ridiculous statement guy and very disrespectful. Not sure what you do in life for work, however everyone needs to start somewhere. Nobody knows it all before starting a job. Learn and grow. Your method would ruin human kind.

    • Does the sun always cast a dark shadow over the “village” of Hamilton for you? Seriously man. If you can’t at least be objective 1% of the time then take a hike. Or perhaps a jog…maybe expel some of that negative energy out of you.

  6. So much hate. These guys coached in the NFL, they bring a wealth of experience, 3 down or not. Football is football.

    • Absolutely Pikk. And they are smart enough to surround themselves with assistant coaches – like Steinauer, Butler, McPhee and others who HAVE coached in the CFL (or recently played as in the case of Butler) and know how to help them understand the differences. It’s when the NFL-experienced coaches don’t have enough coaches with CFL experience or don’t listen to their advice or suggestions, that it can be a disaster. As we saw last season with Jones, that doesn’t appear to be the case on the Ticats’ coaching staff.

  7. ziggy and area 51. You and many others continue to overstate the differencez between the various helmet forward pass football codes. Its still the same damn game. Look at Rugby Football with at least 5 different codes if you include aussie rules and gaelic. players jump around between codes. Its the same damn game with no helmet, no pads, And no throwing forward.

    • Actually Bob if you watch it it isn’t, CFL is quicker and I’d argue more entertaining!That’s why some players who play are better suited for one game than the other. The basics are the same but much like football and rugby share commonality, the aren’t the same. If you think number of players,size of field, number of downs etc. don’t impact strategy, then I hope you stick to rugby!

  8. Ron Tuthill // June 14, 2018 at 1:58 pm //

    Area51 this guy probably bounced around the NFL because he was good at his job and in demand. Steve was that just a typo When you wrote about Travis Vaughn or did you mean Justin Vaughn.

  9. Solara2000 // June 14, 2018 at 4:13 pm //

    Why can’t some posters offer their comments constructively without resorting to personal attacks; I can only imagine the quality of their personal lives.

  10. Bart Andrus and Gary Crowton also have “a wealth” of NFL and NCAA experience.

    Can someone remind us how successful those two gimps were in the CFL?

    • CanuckDomer // June 14, 2018 at 6:49 pm //

      Yeah…Vince Ferragamo was a TERRIBLE ex-NFL CFL QB…just like Doug Flutie was, right 51?

      How many concussions have you had?

  11. Good hire. Experienced coaches never hurt. Butler will only benefit from Gansz’s mentorship.

  12. Ticats63 // June 15, 2018 at 1:13 pm //

    I agree that more experience can certainly be a good thing, but I’m really worried now that this team perhaps has too many cooks in the kitchen, as far as the coaching side is concerned….?

    I also fear that local expectations of this team’s on field capabilities are being overblown (#8 on the Power Rankings doesn’t seem to be in synch with what we read in these articles/posts).

    Only one more sleep before we find out! Its been a long off-season.

  13. Sadly, ignorant comments come from a lack of ability to investigate facts before spewing out unfounded opinions. CFL or NFL experience means nothing without the knowledge of how to coach technique and skill development to players at all levels. 12 men and a larger field with only 3 downs just means a shift in strategy…Before putting your words out there, check your information carefully about someone’s background, and an individual’s work accomplishments that led to moves around the league. Have you checked out the coaching trees of some of the “greatest” coaches in sports? Legendary coaches exist because they were fortunate to have MANY experiences that allowed them to see the good and the bad, and to develop a skill set that includes “plays” A, B, C, D, E, F, G…because only knowing the “way I did it, or what I read in a book,” won’t ever lead to a Gray Cup Championship. How many years has it been? So, perhaps an open mind, that sees beyond CFL experience and young coaches without a clue, would serve a more positive purpose.

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