Kent Austin - Quarterback - University of Mississippi - 1987-96
Kent Austin is a member of the University of Mississippi sports hall of fame. A Rebel quarterback from 1981-85, Austin still holds several school records, including most pass completions in a single game with 37 against Tennessee in 1982, most career yards passing with 6,184, most career touchdown passes with 31, and most career 250-yard passing games with seven. His name also appears in second place on the Rebels' career total offense chart with 6,179 and in third place on Ole Miss' single-game passing list with 381 yards against Tennessee in 1982. A three-time pick for the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week award, Austin was an Academic All-SEC selection in 1982-85, and also received the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award in 1985 and the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1986. excerpted University of Mississippi HofF
Kent was drafted by St. Louis in the 12th round of the 1986 NFL draft 312th overall. He spent 1 season as a practice player with the Rams before joining Saskatchewan in 1987. He split the quarterbacking duties with Tom Burgess for his first few seasons. Austin would claim the job of starting quarterback by the end of the 1989 season.
A magical season for long suffering Roughrider fans the 1989 playoff run saw Saskatchewan led by Austin at quarterback win on the road first upsetting Calgary 33-26 and then the heavily favored Edmonton Eskimos 32-21 at Commonwealth Stadium. Austin had clearly taken control of the team. In considered by many the greatest CFL game ever played Austin was better than ever passing for an incredible 474 yards and 3 touchdowns. Even with the performance the victory came down to a last
second Dave Ridgway field goal. Based on that performance and Austin's continued maturation Tom Burgess was dealt to Winnipeg in 1990, bringing an end to the controversy that had lasted for 2 seasons and anointing Austin as the undisputed #1 quarterback.
Austin thrived with the promotion and posted incredible totals in 1990 and 1991. In 1992 he became at the time just the second quarterback in professional football history to pass for over 6,000 yards. Austin posted ridiculous totals of 6,225 yards passing on 770 attempts for 35 touchdowns. Saskatchewan finished the year in 1992 at 9-9 but lost to Edmonton in the Western semi-final 22-20. 1993 would be Austin's last season with Saskatchewan he had another incredible year with 5,754 yards passing the second highest total of his career the team finished 11-7 but again lost to Edmonton in the playoffs; this time a humbling 51-13 defeat. The game would be Austin's last as quarterback in Regina.
In the off-season with contract talks at a standstill Austin was dealt in a three way deal involving fellow quarterback Danny Barett. Austin ended up in B.C. with Barett landing in Ottawa. It would not be the first time Austin would replace Danny Barett.
Austin arrived at the right time in B.C. as the team was an emerging force with upcoming talent such as Cory Philpot to go with established veterans like Ray Alexander and Lui Passaglia. Austin was hampered by injuries late in the season and was replaced by Danny McManus late in the year. The two traded playing time in the playoffs with McManus delivering clutch performances for an upset victory over the Doug Flutie led Calgary Stampeders. Austin would see some action in the 1994 Grey Cup victory for B.C. but it was clear the Lions were moving on with Danny McManus.
Austin joined the Toronto Argonauts in 1995 and played admirably on a poor Boatmen team. First under Mike Faragelli and then Bob O'Billovich there was no continuity and the team finished an abysmal 4-14. Austin spent his final season in the league as a player with Winnipeg. He again faced an upstart talent in Reggie Slack who competed for playing time. In the final game of his 10 season career Austin and his Blue Bombers were humiliated 68-7. The loss ended Austin's career on a sour note but few can argue with the seasons he posted over his years with Saskatchewan and his singular performance in the 1989 Grey Cup.
Austin joined the coaching ranks in Canadian football with Ottawa in 2003 as a quarterback coach. From there he joined Toronto in 2005 as offensive co-ordinator as the team captured the Grey Cup in his first year coaching the offence. In 2007, Kent was named head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders replacing the departed Danny Barett. He arrives to bring hope and a little of that Grey Cup magic back to a province that has been without since 1989.
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