Lonie goes on offensive

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:34 PM ET

IF IT was as simple as shopping at a Win store, Lonie Glieberman says he'd gladly pay $200,000 for a couple of W's that would push his team into the CFL playoffs.

It'll cost the Renegades president more than that for a coach who likely won't be here in 2006 if his club picks up season-ending victories over Montreal and Toronto.

But, just as he won't confirm speculation Joe Paopao will not be back, Glieberman insists that in no way is he hoping the Throwin' Samoan doesn't hit the necessary mark for the option year of his contract to automatically kick in.

"At 8-10, we could still make the playoffs and you never, ever want to miss an opportunity to make the playoffs," Glieberman stated emphatically yesterday. "It'll be tough, but we could still get hot. Kerry Joseph could get hot. We still have a chance ... and you never know what could happen in the playoffs.

"If we made the playoffs, we'd probably generate another $200,000 in ticket sales in the off-season, anyway."

The Renegades face their first true must-win of the season today when they host the Montreal Alouettes team that can finish no higher or lower than second place in the East Division.

ALS MAKE CHANGES

Coach Don Matthews is sitting stars such as Timothy Strickland, Kerry Watkins, Duane Butler, Ezra Landry and Bryan Chiu with an approach he says is straightforward.

"Our changes this week our numerous, some are due to injury and some are because we want to look at people," said Matthews, whose team was spanked in its showdown for first place with the Toronto Argos last week. "We need to get back on track. We need to prepare ourselves for the playoffs. We need to play the best football we can to try and win this game."

Winning is something Glieberman insists he and vice-president of football operations Forrest Gregg are committed to as well, vigorously disputing the theory Paopao's efforts this season were undermined so the front office could hire its "own man" to replace a guy who had a deal signed and sealed when transfer of ownership was finalized in the days leading up to the start of camp.

The most popular cry is that the coaches were not supplied with sufficient talent -- a notion upper management will also hotly contest.

"We went to 28 NFL camps, we had scouting reports upon scouting reports, and the coaches never even looked at them to tell us who they wanted," Glieberman said of the work done by Gregg and bird-dog John Jenkins.

"We had an average of 54-58 players on our team, which is as high as any team in the league. Check our injured reserve list (which teams use to hide players who would otherwise bolt if forced to take $500 a week practice roster money). It was the highest in the league and I'm pretty sure it still is.

"It's frustrating because it's absolutely not true," Glieberman said of charges he wanted the team to fail. ''Look at Forrest's career. He's always had impeccable integrity. They brought him back to his alma mater (SMU) when it was scandal-plagued to clean it up.

"If coaches wanted certain positions filled ... middle linebacker is the only position that we did not solve the problem. (Ex-Renegade) Tony White was available but the coaches didn't want to go that way. We didn't trade Donnie Ruiz for an American middle linebacker (in Calgary) because if Dave Donaldson got hurt, we wouldn't have another Canadian DB. And what happens? Dave Donaldson is hurt. We got them Donnavan Carter.

ACCOUNTABLE

"People have every right to hold myself and Forrest accountable, but to put it all on two guys who showed up in June is unfair,'' Glieberman said. ''We are all accountable. Never, ever did we have any interest in holding the team back from succeeding. That's not even an issue.

"It's frustrating to hear that we didn't want them to succeed. We wanted to succeed as much as they did."

For a shot at the playoffs, the Renegades also need the B.C. Lions to defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders next weekend, even if Ottawa beats Montreal today and Toronto in seven days.

"We put ourselves in this position," said running back Josh Ranek. "We can't blame the fans and media for throwing us by the wayside. We had a couple of big game opportunities and we failed the test."

The Renegades will make four changes this week. WR David Azzi replaces WR Pat Woodcock (ribs), CB Bo Rogers is in for DB Da'Shann Austin (foot), DB Sean Weston fills for S Quincy Coleman and LB Gerald Vaughn lines up for LB Robert Grant (knee).

The biggest change the players want to see is in the result.

"I just want to win," said centre George Hudson. "I just want a playoff cheque."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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