Obie likes look of overhaul

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

Bob O'Billovich is attempting to restore the roar, reinvigorate a franchise and instill the fear that once characterized Hamilton football.

The transformation won't be accomplished overnight, but as Tiger-Cats veterans get set to report to training camp, the man affectionately known as Obie is under no illusions.

"The proof will be in the pudding," O'Billovich said. "I feel excited because the major areas of concern have been addressed."

O'Billovich wanted to provide head coach Charlie Taaffe with experienced co-ordinators, add Canadian depth, play-making receivers and cover corners who can run and upgrade the lines on both sides of the ball.

If anyone can dramatically change the look and outlook of a CFL team, it's O'Billovich, whose track record of success and recruiting high-end talent north of the border is well-established.

Above all else, Obie is trying to change a losing culture and make the Ticats more aggressive.

"That's what I've been preaching from the day I took over,'' he said. "We're trying to change habits and develop a new attitude. We've tried to give this team a new look, so when the guys come in, they are seeing something new."

Cosmetic changes to the locker room have been completed, the team's football operations have been relocated and other subtle alterations have been made to give the Ticats a new beginning and renewed purpose.

After last season's dismal 3-15 finish, O'Billovich is intent on turning around the Ticats' fortunes, much like he did in Toronto in 1982 when he guided the Boatmen to their first Grey Cup title in 30 years.

"My biggest contribution to this franchise is to make it better and it's been done,'' he said. "Now, we have to evaluate what we have."

As some of the veterans began to filter into Steeltown earlier in the week, Obie was encouraged by what he heard.

"A couple of guys came down to the dorm and noticed the rookies," he said. "For what it's worth, they all said how much more physical and how much more in shape this group looked compared to last year. But we'll see."

Casey Printers will line up under centre but, unlike last year when he joined the Ticats from the NFL, the former CFL MVP will be in shape.

Obie also saw Quinton Porter in NFL Europa and lured the Boston College product to Hamilton.

"He has a good arm and he is very bright," Obie said.

Jesse Lumsden is coming off an injury-riddled season and O'Billovich says the star running back will be worked into camp slowly.

"We have to learn to win," O'Billovich said. "The one thing I've learned after all these years is that you never know what's around the corner.

"In late November, I was named all-time coach of the Argos. Not even a week later, I was appointed by the Ticats."


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