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PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

The first head-coaching vacancy in the Canadian Football League could have a domino effect.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers fired head coach Jim Daley yesterday and among the candidates rumoured as his potential successor are Joe Paopao, whom the Ottawa Renegades let go on the weekend; Calgary Stampeders' offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto; Stamps' defensive co-ordinator Denny Creehan; Stamps' general manager Jim Barker; current Argos offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin; and former Renegades defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall.

Sources told the Toronto Sun yesterday that Winnipeg general manager Brendan Taman is eyeing Paopao, with whom he has worked in the past in B.C. Paopao, who had been the Renegades only head coach in their first four years, had a brief stint as an assistant co-ordinator with Winnipeg. He resigned midway through the '98 season, taking the fall for embattled head coach Jeff Reinebold, who eventually was fired.

If the Blue Bombers organization looks beyond Paopao to create a big splash -- the team plays host to the Grey Cup next year -- Buratto may be the top choice. He won the Grey Cup with B.C. in 2000 and is credited with the sudden offensive surge of the Stamps. Buratto also has a prior working relationship with Taman.

It is believed Austin, who quarterbacked the Blue Bombers in 1996, could receive consideration. He is in his third year of coaching and his stock is climbing after the Argos won the Grey Cup last year and are only one win shy of getting there again. He has also received credit for working with quarterback Damon Allen, who just concluded his best season in 21 years in the Canadian Football League and is expected to be named today as the East Division's nominee for most outstanding player. Austin also helped develop Ottawa quarterback Kerry Joseph in 2002.

Austin may have head-coaching aspirations.

"If it happens, it happens," his agent, Gil Scott, said. "You always listen to what people have to say, but he likes Toronto."

Sources told the Sun yesterday that if Austin leaves, the Argos actively will recruit Paopao. Paopao has connections to Argos vice-president of football operations Adam Rita, personnel director Greg Mohns and Allen from their time in B.C. between 1998-2000.

Hamilton has an interest in Paopao after the team announced yesterday it is not renewing the contracts of offensive co-ordinator Jamie Baressi, receivers coach Paul LaPolice and offensive line coach Mark Murray.

ODDS-ON ARGOS

Bowman's International, a prominent legal betting house, has listed Toronto as the favourite to win the Grey Cup after placing the Argos fourth before the season began. B.C. is the second choice, while Calgary and Montreal are co-favourites as third choice.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced that linebacker Trevis Smith, who has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and is free on $10,000 bail, will not be added to the lineup for this Sunday's East Division semi-final against the Montreal Alouettes ... The San Diego Chargers have parted company with pro/college scout Mike McCarthy and it's expected that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will sign him as a consultant some time in the next few months.


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