'Gades in a Grey area

Renegades coach Joe Paopao will have to wait until after the Grey Cup to learn whether the team...

Renegades coach Joe Paopao will have to wait until after the Grey Cup to learn whether the team wants him back next season. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

As they have no chance to perform any post-season victory dances in a year they are hosting the Grey Cup, the Renegades will allow their top two football men to twist in the November wind.

Team president and part-owner Brad Watters told the Sun yesterday that an announcement on the fate of coach Joe Paopao and GM Eric Tillman will not be made until after the national championship game, which will be played at Frank Clair Stadium three weeks from Sunday.

Both Tillman and Paopao are in the final stages of three-year contracts with a franchise they built from scratch.

"We are not making any decisions until after the Grey Cup," said Watters. "We will deal with (management) issues after the game."

The Renegades will also hold off until the end of next month before revealing any details of an expected ownership change. It's believed one of the two majority shareholders -- Bill Smith or Randy Gillies -- is going to buy the other out if a deal hasn't already been done behind closed doors.

The CFL has declared a three-week embargo on all teams from making any major announcements after Tuesday, when Watters is to preside over the club's formal, season-ending press conference. The memorandum was issued in hopes of cutting down on distractions taking away from the playoffs or showcase game.

SAYING A MOUTHFUL?

By saying nothing, meanwhile, the Renegades could in fact be viewed as saying a mouthful. Specifically, that they have already made up their minds on Paopao and Tillman. If they planned to re-sign the two, they could end all speculation by saying so at the press conference. This way, they are leaving open a door that many will naturally assume is about to revolve.

"It can't get any worse than it already is," said Watters. "There's been speculation for the past three months. It can't get any worse in the next three weeks.

"The only people who will be hurt by it, unfortunately, are Eric and Joe. As long as they understand ... "

They do understand, all right. They understand it best to be all ears when approached by anyone quietly interested in hiring them for jobs with other organizations. Just in case.

Tillman, in particular, can see the writing on the wall. His role was reduced this season, when Paopao's title was expanded to include director of football operations.

But Paopao also acknowledged that yesterday's practice may have been his last with the Renegades.

The 5-12, three-year-old team winds up this injury-plagued regular season with a home game against the Hamilton Ticats tomorrow.

'IT IS WHAT IT IS'

"My focus coming in (yesterday) was to make sure the men were focused," Paopao said. "It may be (the last), but the concentration has to be on Hamilton and getting a win, if just for our sanity. It's not going to heal everything, and if this was the last practice, it is what it is.

"We're out of the playoffs. But the reality is, we have to see if we can finish on a strong note."


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