Charlie Taaffe has a job this year, but that doesn't mean he won't become the Tiger-Cats' head coach next season.
In fact, the two-time CFL coach of the year would love to come here to Hamilton.
"Yes, absolutely," Taaffe, on a one-year contract at the University of Pittsburgh, told The Spectator yesterday. " I said when I left Montreal it wasn't because of the league or the country. I enjoyed it, but it was for family reasons. Now, I could do it."
Taaffe was with the Alouettes from 1997-2000, the first two years as offensive co-ordinator, the latter two as head coach. He compiled a 24-12 regular season record as Als' head coach, lost the eastern final to the Ticats 27-26 in 1999 and won the east the following season before losing the Grey Cup to B.C. by two points.
He left Canada at the end of that season to become offensive co-ordinator at the University of Maryland. At the time, paycheques were much higher in the U.S. college ranks, even as a co-ordinator, than they were for CFL head coaches. Plus, he wanted to build up a U.S. pension.
But mostly he wanted more secure employment in order to help raise his son, who was in elementary school at the time. His son will be in college next year, so Taaffe says he's free to go elsewhere.
"I still have a lot of friends coaching in the CFL and they tell me that (money and stability) are not as big issues as they were six or seven years ago," Taaffe said.
Taaffe was the last CFL coach to win back-to-back coach of the year awards.
At Maryland, his balanced offences set school records for yards gained and helped turn a struggling program around. After the Terrapins floundered the last two years, Taaffe submitted his resignation in February and looked for opportunities.
In early August he was named as interim offensive consultant to Pitt head coach Dave Wannstedt. Taaffe, who at 56 is entering his 30th year of coaching, says he will honour his contract in Pittsburgh, but would be free to come north at the end of the season.
He has talked only once to the Cats, when GM Rob Katz called him.
"He is definitely one of the strong candidates," Katz confirmed yesterday.