It's Joe's show now

DON BRENNAN, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

As a young boy, Joe Paopao learned the true meaning of do-or-die from his mother. She told him about how, back in the 1800s, the losers of rugby and cricket games against competing Hawaiian Islands would be killed and cannibalized.

"Now that's pressure to win," Paopao said yesterday.

Paopao will be under a different kind of pressure as the GM/head coach of the Renegades, which he officially became yesterday. It's a one- year deal that automatically becomes two if the club wins eight games in 2005, the Sun has learned.

The Renegades have victory totals of four, seven and five in Paopao's previous three seasons as coach.

"I don't care about the option (year)," said Paopao. "If you can't get it done in four years, hey, it's time for people to make adjustments."

LATE START

Paopao will make some adjustments of his own, and, with a late jump on the job, he's starting immediately. First, he'll work on hiring a coaching staff. Paopao spoke with Kani Kauahi almost immediately after signing his deal, and as of yesterday it appeared last season's assistant head coach/offensive co-ordinator/offensive line coach would be returning.

Paopao said he hoped quarterback and receivers coach Tommy Condell would also be back, as QB Kerry Joseph has a good relationship with him.

Defensively, the Renegades and co-ordinator Gary Etcheverry will part company. There's speculation Paopao could offer the job to Dave Ritchie, the former Winnipeg Blue Bombers/B.C. Lions coach who was the defensive co-ordinator in Ottawa when the Rough Riders posted a 9-9 record in 1992.

Ritchie and Paopao worked together in B.C., and it's believed the unemployed Ritchie would jump at a chance to get back in the CFL.

Paopao will retain director of player personnel Chris McRobbie and decide how he's going to structure his scouting staff. He'll also begin contacting those of the Renegades 21 soon-to-be free agents the team wants to re-sign.

Names he mentioned as priorities yesterday included veteran offensive guard Val St. Germain, linebacker Kelly Wiltshire and defensive back Anthony Malbrough. But then he quickly added "they're all important to us."

The Renegades will try to improve their offensive line and kicking game, and are expected to try to land a big-play free agent receiver such as Montreal's Jeremaine Copeland or Edmonton's Ed Hervey.

Meanwhile, Paopao would have been a little surprised when he first heard the Renegades were interested in hiring him for both positions -- a decision team president Brad Watters insists was not about saving money despite what many believe.

"I truly believe Joe will do a great job," said Watters, who insiders say was looking to hire Bob O'Billovich as GM and former Rider great Greg Marshall as coach only a couple of weeks ago. "He deserves another chance."

Watters admitted the mistake was made in putting off decisions on the football operations personnel for six weeks while waiting for a development in what has become a muddled ownership picture. How things get sorted out at the top is, in fact, still a question mark that Watters says might not get answered for some time yet.

CHECKING RESPONSE

It's believed the current group wants to see how the season ticket campaign flows before deciding on whether to continue negotiations with Bernie Glieberman, the former Riders owner who is looking to buy a chunk (if not all) of the team.

Watters says his concerns about the Gliebermans are over a negative public backlash, although the possibility of the controversial Detroit real estate magnate returning will not help in the team's negotiations for a new lease.

"The one thing Bernie and Lonie (Glieberman) have done is come to us in an effort to lend a helping hand," said Watters, referring to an offer that would see Glieberman cover all losses for two years in exchange for 50% of the team. "If it was not Bernie Glieberman, if it was any other businessman in Canada, we would be willing to accept him, hands down.

"I can understand (the fans') concern and I'm compassionate towards them," Watters added.

"But if that's the case that we only have one option ... if the only option going forward is to get funding from an investor that the fans don't like, then there's a choice to be made and it's the owner's decision to make. We'll live with that. The fans' choice to that is to respond by either not renewing or buying tickets. That's something that will be dealt with in the future, but not dealt with in the next two weeks."

Meanwhile, Watters said Paopao will have a bigger budget to work with this season.

"The only question I had (for ownership) was about their commitment to winning, if they had the resources to get guys," said Paopao. "It was the No. 1 question and that was answered. It's all I cared about."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com 


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