Paopao exiting with class

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Aloha.

That was the theme yesterday as Joe Paopao -- The Throwin' Samoan -- said both hello and goodbye in his second-last day as the first and only head coach of the Ottawa Renegades.

Following the Renegades' game against the Argos at Frank Clair Stadium today, Paopao will be out of a job. Paopao needed to win eight games to be re-hired for another season, according to the contract he worked out with incoming owners Bernie and Lonie Glieberman this past off-season. The Renegades have won only six games, despite winning five of their first eight.

Paopao will be replaced on Monday by John Jenkins, who was hired by the ownership midway into the season as a scout and contractually had worked out an arrangement to become head coach if Paopao failed to win eight games.

Overall in four years as the head coach of the Renegades, who rose in 2002 when football died in Ottawa following the collapse of the Rough Riders after the 1996 season, Paopao had a record of 22-49. The franchise appeared to be moving in the right direction after the second season with a record of 7-11 following a first-year record of 4-14, but ownership problems and internal feuding in the football and business operations, created a precipitous downturn in Year 3.

Many reasons have been suggested for the Renegades' collapse after eight games: The inconsistent play of quarterback Kerry Joseph; the Gliebermans' high-profile pursuit of free agent quarterback Jesse Palmer, who recently signed with San Francisco of the NFL; the limited signing of new players through trades of free agency, which some people claim was a deliberate attempt to make Paopao fail, and, in turn, advance Jenkins' chances of replacing him.

In the end, the classy Paopao took the high road.

CELEBRATE LIFE

"I wore this Aloha shirt because it's symbolic of who I am," Paopao said. "I'm a Polynesian man and we wear this at all occasions to celebrate life -- at weddings, funerals, luaus, even when you're going out on a date.

"It's a celebration of, 'Hey, you know what? I'm ready to enjoy and take on whatever comes before me. I ask the media that you help support the incoming staff and players in this organization. Life isn't perfect. Everybody needs a hand; everybody needs support. Give 'em a chance."

Paopao admitted the four years in Ottawa had not been easy, but he wouldn't trade them for anything.

"It's helped redefine me at times. It's helped develop tougher skin and to have a better understanding of how things work at the full level," he said.

Paopao took full responsibility for his record.

"This city deserves a winner, and that's something we couldn't provide," he added. "Change is part of life and I accept that ... I don't know what the future holds for me.

"I know I enjoy coaching and I enjoy the interaction of people."

There are rumours Paopao may resurface with Hamilton in an offensive assistant role.


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