Ready to kick tires

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

There are already a couple of hats in the ring for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coaching job.

And while the search for Jim Daley's replacement is in its infant stages, we did learn a few things on Day 1: Greg Marshall is keen as all get out, Joe Paopao needs a break and Doug Berry is one brave soul.

Marshall and Paopao, as you know, were recently shown the door at the Glieberman Circus in Ottawa, Marshall as the Renegades defensive co-ordinator, Paopao as the head coach and GM.

Reached by the Sun yesterday, Marshall tossed his hat in the ring with gusto.

"I'm ready to go," the former Edmonton defensive guru said. "Any time they'd like to talk, I'm ready to convince them why I'd be the guy."

Paopao's first salvo, understandably so, was a little more subdued. After all, he was front-and-centre in the three-ring production in the nation's capital this year.

The show had everything: from exhibitionism, like the controversial Mardi Gras promotion that encouraged women to bare their breasts at home games, to death-defying stunts, such as Paopao's effort to win eight games or else have his head placed on the chopping block.

It finally ended with a freak show: John Jenkins and Forrest Gregg effectively splitting Paopao in half -- Jenkins getting the coaching half, Gregg the GM part.

"If I could get to a desert island for about a week, and just get away and kind of gather my thoughts," Paopao said from his Ottawa home. "It's kind of hard to turn the switch right now."

That said, the Throwin' Samoan confirmed he'd be interested in talking to Bomber GM Brendan Taman about the Winnipeg job. After he runs it by the missus, of course.

"She's the one who allows me to coach," Paopao said. "We've been together for over 30 years. I'd have to sit and (ask), 'What do you think, honey -- you up for it again?' "

Marshall doesn't have to think.

Like Paopao, he insists the Bomber job hasn't lost its lustre, despite the fact the team's been an also-ran two years running and hasn't sipped championship champagne in 15.

"For the majority of the years I've been involved in the CFL, they've always been one of the more successful franchises," he said. "Everybody goes through ups and downs. Since 1980, there's been a lot of great moments in that organization. Recently, you could argue that. But it's not like it's been a drought of epic proportions."

If Marshall remembers the Bomber glory days, that means he's been around for a long time -- as a player in the 1980s, an assistant coach the last decade.

His defences, for the most part, have been very good.

You've also got to admire his chutzpah. Recently, he questioned the idea of Jenkins, in his role as Ottawa personnel boss, nixing possible trades that could have improved the Renegades, while knowing he'd take over as coach should Paopao fail.

As for the blemish of a 7-11 mark on his resume: "People know, throughout the league, the challenges that were faced this year were large," Marshall said. "We had to overcome a lot of things that other people didn't have to deal with."

Which brings us to Berry, the Montreal Alouettes co-offensive co-ordinator, who, like the other candidates in the playoffs, can't really throw his hat in the ring, just yet.

"I'm just giving you a courtesy call back," Berry said over the phone from Montreal. "You know what's it like at this time of the year. For us, anybody, to be talking about something else would be foolish."

Give Berry marks for courage, though. The other guys wouldn't even call back to say that.

And Berry's got Don Matthews as his boss.


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