Kent Austin has emerged as the front-runner for the vacant Winnipeg Blue Bombers' head coaching job, The Toronto Sun has learned.
Austin, who has been the Argos' offensive co-ordinator the past two years, has already had one interview with the Blue Bombers and, according to sources, did well enough that the team is giving serious thought to signing him.
The Bombers have interviewed other candidates, including Saskatchewan Roughriders' defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall, deposed Ottawa Renegades head coach Joe Paopao, and Montreal Alouettes' offensive co-ordinator Doug Berry.
The Bombers are expected to interview additional candidates before shortlisting their search next week.
While Bombers' general manager Brendan Taman has indicated that ideally he would like to hire someone with head coaching experience, and Paopao would be the obvious choice, sources said Austin's stock is on the rise. He is credited with helping Argos quarterback Damon Allen winning this year's most outstanding player award for the first time in his 21-year career.
Austin concluded his playing career in 1996 with Winnipeg and began his coaching apprenticeship in 2003 with the Renegades.
If Austin accepts the Winnipeg job, the Argos are expected to hire Paopao as his replacement. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, are searching for an offensive co-ordinator and have pegged Paopao as their preferred choice.