Obie tops 'Gades' list?

Eric Tillman said yesterday that he would not return to the Renegades next season under the current...

Eric Tillman said yesterday that he would not return to the Renegades next season under the current circumstances, which essentially saw him stripped of his GM's duties by CEO John Lisowski. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

A rumour making the rounds says the Renegades are interested in talking to Bob O'Billovich about becoming their coach and GM.

Assuming it's untrue, or they don't, or he doesn't ...

Eric Tillman will not return to the Renegades next season if, by some chance, they offer him the same job he had in 2004.

"No, I wouldn't," Tillman said to the hypothetical yesterday, minutes after his year-end press conference and a second or two before leaving the organization door open a crack. "If I were based in the U.S., that might be a different story. It's something I would consider based on what my other options are."

More likely, his association with a three-year-old CFL team he built from a "blank canvas" is over.

Tillman, the Renegades GM through Years 1 and 2 but that guy in name only this season, admitted he could have walked away in March, when his role as the football boss was altered by new CEO John Lisowski.

Following a disagreement between the two in a meeting that also included coach Joe Paopao, Lisowski gave Paopao final say on football matters and the added title director of football operations.

Paopao and Tillman still collaborated on decisions, but the latter was essentially responsible for scouting and signing players. Yesterday, he pointed that out.

"I easily could have gone (home) to Mississippi and played golf, given the circumstances had changed, but when you invest two years in something you care deeply about, you want to see it be a success," said Tillman, who will likely steer clear of Ottawa in hopes of avoiding questions about his future from the national media during Grey Cup week. "I still felt I could influence the outcome.

"Do I feel comfortable with the job I did?" he said later, repeating a question. "Yes, absolutely. Our goal was to win three games in Year 1 and we won four, then win six games in Year 2 and we won seven. If people want to hold me accountable based on my decision to stay, okay. (But) I'm proud of the job I did in the first two years ... in fairness, I should be judged by the first two years."

While Tillman and Paopao are in limbo awaiting a final decision that is expected from the club in the next few weeks, there's talk the Renegades are quietly scoping the market for Tillman's replacement. It's believed O'Billovich's name is one that's been mentioned, but the former Rough Riders assistant coach is currently under contract with the B.C. Lions as a personnel evaluator.

In his own address to the media on Press Conference Day at Frank Clair Stadium, team president Brad Watters spent time answering questions about the impending, yet still unclear ownership reconfiguration, as well as making it clear he believed the team's many injuries were the primary reason for its failures.

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Watters estimated that the Renegades are planning to re-sign 10 of the their 20 players eligible to become free agents Feb. 15, and repeated that the team is looking for direction from the commissioner's office as to how much money it has to spend to be competitive, since there is obviously no defined salary cap.

"The Grey Cup is going to be a very lucrative event that will help us catch up for the first two years (of losses) and put us on solid financial footing with an opportunity to move forward," said Watters, whose group purchased the franchise unaware that the old-boys network of owners around the league scoff at being told how much to pay players. "But that doesn't give us the green light to spend in excess over the cap.

"By no means is ownership willing to be on the losing end of a 10-year battle. We would like to know what it's going to cost us to be a competitive team. New levels seem to be set. We are willing to compete, but not at all costs."


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