Ritchie interested in 'Gades

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

At 66 years old, and four months after quadruple bypass surgery, Dave Ritchie has no interest in retiring.

In fact, one of the CFL's most successful sideline bosses ever would jump at the chance to discuss the Renegades' vacant defensive co-ordinator's position with Joe Paopao.

"I want to coach," Ritchie said yesterday from Florida. "I feel great and I've got a lot of energy. I've got more to give.

"I've always liked Joe. If he calls, I'd be happy to listen."

MARSHALL A CANDIDATE

Paopao, who was introduced as the Renegades' coach and GM on Friday, is in the process of putting together his staff. It's believed the top candidate is Eskimos defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, a former Rough Rider great.

Meanwhile, Ritchie also knows his way around Frank Clair Stadium. In 1992, he was the defensive co-ordinator of a Riders team that led the league in most defensive categories and finished 9-9 --the only time the franchise enjoyed a .500 record in its last 13 years of existence. The following season, Ritchie started his career as a CFL head coach in B.C., where he had Paopao as his offensive co-ordinator.

The Lions won the Grey Cup in 1994 with Ritchie, who stayed in Vancouver one more year before coaching the Alouettes (in 1997 and 1998), then Winnipeg for the next five years.

Ritchie, who was fired last Aug. 8 after the Bombers' 2-5 start, has had a winning record in eight of his 10 full seasons as a coach. His 108 career victories has him seventh on the all-time list, and only Don Matthews and Wally Buono have better wins-to-years-coached ratio than Ritchie.

Despite the resume, Ritchie says "nobody has been knocking my door down" since his dismissal by the Bombers, who paid his salary until the end of last month. While his health might have been a concern, it's also possible that coaches have been reluctant to hire a guy more than qualified to replace them.

Ritchie says he isn't interested in making his boss uncomfortable.

"To be an assistant coach, I want to be able to co-exist with the head coach I'm working for," said Ritchie, who began his CFL career as an assistant with the Als in 1983. "I don't want him worried about me (replacing him) ... I don't want that to happen. I'm just thinking I'd like to have a job where I could be some help to somebody."

Ritchie could help the Renegades attract some free-agent talent after Feb. 15. His reputation as a player's coach is well documented. The bond he develops is as obvious as the fridge in the Ritchie kitchen, which is usually covered with pictures of the children of his former players.

Shortly after his surgery, Ritchie was visited in the hospital by Elfrid Payton, who leads all active CFLers in quarterback sacks and sits second on the all-time list.

"He told the nurses he was my brother," laughed Ritchie.


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