MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Jim Barker isn't leaving coaching anytime soon but when he does there's no doubt in his mind both Mike O'Shea and Orlondo Steinauer will follow in his footsteps and become CFL head coaches.
O'Shea and Steinauer are currently assistant coaches with the Toronto Argonauts under Barker, the team's head coach and general manager. O'Shea, a former standout middle linebacker, is in his second season as the Argos' special-teams co-ordinator while Steinauer, who began his second campaign as the team's secondary coach, was recently promoted to defensive co-ordinator to replace the fired Chip Garber.
"Honestly, I don't want to be a head coach in this league for five-10 more years," Barker said Wednesday. "One of the main things I wanted to do was make sure I brought young coaches in here that had experience in our league and those guys will be head coaches in this league.
"I hope when I'm done guys like Mike O'Shea and Orlondo Steinauer are successful coaches and can look back and say, 'You know, I learned a lot from him. He had been through a lot of different things and had to handle different situations.'"
For Barker, that coach was none other than the illustrious Don Matthews. Twice Barker served on Matthews' staff, first as his offensive co-ordinator and offensive line coach in Toronto (1997-'98) then as the offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach in Montreal in 2002.
Twice Barker was part of Grey Cup-winning teams with Matthews but says the lessons learned under the larger than life CFL coach dubbed "The Don," were invaluable.
"I was fortunate enough when I came into the league at 37, 38 years old to have Don Matthews," Barker said. "Now, had I worked at that time for someone who was young and it was their first coaching job I don't know that I would be able to be where I'm at now.
"But to be able to work with someone like Don Matthews who has seen it all, who takes complex things and makes them simple. That makes you a better coach."
Barker also succeeded Matthews as the Argos head coach in '99, becoming the CFL's youngest head coach and leading the team to a 9-9 record and playoff berth. But Barker wasn't retained after the franchise was sold to American owner Sherwood Schwarz and went on to serve as the offensive co-ordinator of the XFL-champion Los Angeles Xtreme in 2000.
Barker began his second stint in Toronto when he was named head coach Feb. 9, 2010 and followed up by bringing both O'Shea and Steinauer into the CFL coaching ranks. Barker, the league's coach of the year last season, said the move was by design.
"I rely on the coaching staff a lot," Barker said. "When it comes to coaching, it's amongst us and that's why I like to have some experienced guys, some younger guys and some guys who played recently because they give me insights that I don't have."
O'Shea and Steinauer certainly bring a player's perspective to coaching.
O'Shea spent 12 of his 16 CFL seasons with Toronto — the other four with Hamilton. The middle linebacker was the CFL's top rookie in '93 and named the outstanding Canadian in '99. O'Shea was a member of three Grey Cup-winning Argos teams (1996, '97, '04) and is one of only three players — and the lone Canadian — to register 1,000 career tackles and in '07 was voted to the Argos all-time squad.
Steinauer played safety for Ottawa, Hamilton and Toronto during his 13-year career, the bulk of which was spent with the Argos (2001-'08). A five-time CFL all-star, Steinauer played for two Grey Cup-winning teams ('99 Hamilton, '04 Toronto).
It's not surprising that Steinauer and O'Shea made the move into coaching. As players, both served as team captains and both earned reputations as being students of the game.
In fact, Barker said he often leans on O'Shea.
"During a game I draw on Mike O'Shea quite a bit," Barker said. "Mike is a person I can turn to and say, 'What would your thought be?'