'Gades still in holding pattern

Brad Watters pictured during Grey Cup week, held in Ottawa. (Sun Media file photo)

Brad Watters pictured during Grey Cup week, held in Ottawa. (Sun Media file photo)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

Brad Watters says the Renegades can remain in limbo for only another week or so. At that point, the CFL team will have to go forward -- even though its ownership structure will likely still be unsettled.

Edmonton CEO/president Hugh Campbell recently asked Renegades owner Randy Gillies for permission to speak with Joe Paopao about the Eskimos coaching vacancy.

However, Gillies is expected to be the outgoing owner at some point, as negotiations are in progress to have co-owner Bill Smith buy his share of the club.

But Gillies gave the Eskimos the okay to speak with Paopao, who is technically still under contract as the Renegades coach.

'NO PROBLEM'

"I have no problem with it," Watters said yesterday. "At the stage we're at right now, Joe has got to look out for himself. We're not willing to commit either way.

''So if Edmonton is looking at Joe as its head coach, good for Joe."

Paopao said he has had only a preliminary phone conversation with the Eskimos.

"They called a couple of days ago to see what my interest level was," Paopao said from his Ottawa home last night. "I still have interests here, but you never know.

''I would have interest in any job as a head coach, particularly an organization like that. But I'm playing it by ear right now."

It may get no further, either, as Edmonton co-ordinators Greg Marshall and Danny Maciocia are the two leading candidates to replace Tom Higgins.

The Eskimos, it's believed, have also interviewed Toronto assistants Kent Austin and Rich Stubler, and Saskatchewan assistants Richie Hall and Marcel Bellefeuille.

Smith and Gillies, who are partners in other companies as well, are trying to reach a satisfactory agreement on the transfer of Renegades shares. Right now, both men own 30% of the team.

If Smith successfully purchases Gillies' shares, he will then sell part of the team to Detroit millionaire Bernie Glieberman.

COMPLICATED DEAL

Watters termed the Smith-Gillies negotiations "very complicated" and said he couldn't guess when the deal will be completed.

"It's hard to do anything until the ownership gets cleared up," said Watters. "But if it can't be resolved in the short term, we're going to have to start making decisions for the future. I think, in the next week, we're going to have to decide what direction we're going."

Watters said that decisions would be made by himself, CEO John Lisowski and the team's board of directors.

It's likely one of those decisions could be the hiring of Bob O'Billovich as the team's general manager. His contract expires in January as the director of player personnel with the B.C. Lions.

"Realistically, we could have done some things two weeks ago," said Watters, who interviewed O'Billovich Nov. 22. "But we thought we'd get the ownership thing finished up, and we could do it all at once. It just hasn't worked out that way."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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