'Gades change game plan

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:46 AM ET

Eric Tillman is still the general manager of the Ottawa Renegades. There is no question about that.

Not to take issue with the fine work of the Renegades public relations staff, which put out a press release yesterday refuting a piece in yesterday's Sun, but the column in question never "inferred" Tillman had been relieved of his duties.

Tillman is still the general manager.

That was never in dispute. There were other media outlets that chose to interpret things that way, but they were blatantly incorrect.

The point made here, as an example of the way things have changed in the Renegades front office, was Tillman has seen the scope of his influence in the organization reduced.

It wasn't even really news for anybody who had been paying attention. Renegades coach Joe Paopao had the title of director of football operations added to his portfolio last spring and it was generally understood he had taken more of role in the day-to-day operation of the club.

Is Tillman still the GM?

Absolutely.

"Eric Tillman is an integral part of our organization and is still our general manager," said Renegades president Brad Watters. "Both he and Joe Paopao are committed to make this club successful ..."

"It's very much a partnership with Joe," said Tillman yesterday.

Figurative hugs all around. Well, at least between Tillman and Paopao.

Does Tillman have the same power as vice-president and GM that he had almost three years ago when he took the job?

He does not, according to Sun sources.

Just connect the dots.

There were changes to the front office which have impacted the way things are done in the Renegades operation.

CEO HIRED

John Lisowski was hired as the chief executive officer and has carried out the mandate given to him by club ownership to get expenses on the business side under control.

Another layer of authority was put in place which was sure to change the dynamic.

"I throw no stones at people who speculate," said Tillman. "There were changes in the organization in the spring and there has been a lot of speculation from that."

Two big dots to be connected:

- When there was speculation about the status of members of the coaching staff when the Renegades were losing 8-of-9 games, it was Watters who did the talking. In most professional sports franchises' chain of command, the GM holds responsibility for the hiring and firing of coaches.

Tillman, who was the one you would expect to say anything (if anything was to be said) about the status of the coaching staff, was noticeably absent from the dialogue.

That would certainly lead you to believe it was not his call on the fate of Paopao and the rest of the staff. Watters met with Paopao about the state of the defence, and the merits and drawbacks of a change in the defensive co-ordinator's position were discussed. Was Tillman there? Apparently not.

"Ultimately, ownership has the right to speak about anything they want,'' he said. "It's their team. They sign the cheques. It's their money."

- Tillman (and Paopao, for that matter) are in the last months of their three-year contracts. There is no questioning their commitment to fulfilling the mandate given to them to put the best team on the field within the limits of the budget set by ownership. Both men are passionate about their jobs and fiercely competitive.

NO TALKS

But the fact is in the waning months of a GM's mandate -- when there is no evidence of talks regarding a contract extension -- do you think he is he going to have the same sway in an organization?

No way.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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