Paopao may be back

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 PM ET

The Renegades are leaning toward bringing Joe Paopao back as coach next season, the Sun has learned, but a final decision still can't be made until the ownership and Eric Tillman situations are settled.

If Tillman is not re-signed as GM, the team has to decide how it will divvy up his duties. One option will be to hire a personnel/scout-type individual and put him solely in charge of finding and signing players -- much like the role Tillman was left with after his powers were reduced last March.

If they choose to hire another GM, then they realize that man has to have a say in who will be the team's coach. In that event, Paopao would be no worse than a coaching candidate -- perhaps even a leading candidate, as he has a strong reputation throughout the league.

Before anything else, however, the ownership picture has to be straightened out. A split is imminent, with one of the two majority shareholders -- Bill Smith and Randy Gillies -- looking to buy the other out. Presently, it appears negotiations could go either way.

The Gillies faction includes minority shareholders Kevin Kimsa and Rick Baker. Kimsa has already made it clear he wants out. On the Smith side is Brad Watters and his father Bill.

Tillman's chances of survival would seem to be better -- although still not cemented -- if the Gillies group prevails.

It's believed both sides of the ownership divide are satisfied with the job done by Paopao and favour re-signing him for at least another year.

Brad Watters, who is also the team president, would not comment on the ownership situation or specifics of meetings he had yesterday with both Tillman and Paopao, other than to say "they went very well."

'CRUCIAL DECISIONS'

Said Watters: "They both understand what we're going through, and that we want to get on (a decision) as quickly as possible, but we can't necessarily renew everybody now, because some crucial decisions haven't been made yet."

Watters, who will hold his year-end press conference at Frank Clair Stadium this afternoon, said those decisions will be likely be finalized "by Dec. 1, or thereabouts."

He also said that if either Tillman or Paopao asked for permission to speak with another team in the meantime, he would not deny them.

"Both would like to know whether we want them back as early as possible, but they understand the challenges we face," said Watters. "We want to make sure our football operations are set up the right way, to give us the best chance at success."


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