New coach, new kicker, new optimism for Ticats in new season

With visions of first downs dancing in their heads, Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a new coach.

The Canadian Football League club announced this past week that Charlie Taaffe will try and lead the Tabbies to the promised land – a winning season. The Grey Cup would be more than a bonus for the 2007 season. During the past five seasons, Hamilton has made the playoffs by 1) actually qualifying; and 2) by paying their cable bill so they could watch on TV. Last year they posted a 4-14 record.

With Taaffe hiring, a three-year contract, Ron Lancaster can step aside from the role he assumed when the Tiger-Cats dismissed Greg Marshall after the team stalled with an 0-4 start. Lancaster’s future with the club is uncertain.

Taaffe was twice a former CFL coach of the year, in 1999 and 2000 while with the Montreal Alouettes. His most recent coaching assignment was as an offensive consultant with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. He has also coached at two U.S. military academy schools and the University of Maryland.

Another new face that is expected to make a difference with the Ticats this season, assuming he lives up to expectations, is kicker Nick Setta.

During his four-year collegite career with the Notre Dame Fightin’ Irish he was good on 46 of 66 field-goal attempts.

“Nick is capable of handling all kicking duties — field goals, punting and kickoffs — at a very high level,” said Ticats general manager Marcel Desjardins. “We think he has a great chance to become our primary kicker next season.”

Setta is expected to push Jamie Boreham, who connected on 26 of 36 field goals and finished eighth in scoring among CFL kickers with 100 points last season.

Setta, 25, also handled punting duties in his final year at Notre Dame.

The Illinois native spent the past two seasons in NFL Europe, converting nine of 12 field-goal attempts with Cologne in 2006 after going 13-for-18 for Rhein the previous season.