Day by day, Ottawa Renegades president Lonie Glieberman gives ground in an internal power struggle.
Yesterday brought further evidence that the son of majority owner Bernie Glieberman is being marginalized within the organization, and that the Canadian Football League franchise is ready to chart a new course behind a football executive who could serve as the franchise's front-man.
Lonie Glieberman admitted he will no longer be attending CFL meetings that begin today in Toronto and that general manager Forrest Gregg and others will represent the club.
"I still might go, but, at this point, I don't have a ticket booked," Glieberman said from Ironwood, Michigan, where he was tending to the family's ski business.
Recently, Glieberman was also surprised to learn of new training-camp plans, which will take the team out-of-town, but not to Florida a suggestion he had floated earlier this offseason.
Two weeks ago, Glieberman was finalizing a deal to practise at Frank Clair Stadium and lodge the players at Carleton University.
However, following a meeting between Bernie Glieberman and senior advisors last week, the Renegades will instead hold camp at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.
Also at the Frank Clair Stadium meeting, part-time consultants Phil Kershaw and John Lisowski and prominent team sponsor Mark Kosmos impressed upon Bernie Glieberman that he needed to put a football face on the franchise.
"All the people in Ottawa want is good, viable football. They don't necessarily want a new model for a CFL franchise," Kershaw said, referencing the younger Glieberman's marketing and business plans.
"I'm trying to tell Bernie and Lonie that I'm not trying to be president of the Ottawa Renegades."
The suggested revamping calls for B.C. Lions director of player personnel Bob O'Billovich to take over as general manager and director of football operations and for the two consultants to run the Renegades' business affairs in the background.
The Renegades were granted permission to speak with O'Billovich last week, but that short window elapsed over the weekend, and it remains uncertain whether he can be pried away from the Lions.
Bernie Glieberman did not return messages left by The Citizen yesterday, but he has recently spoken with minority owner Bill Smith, who is believed to have other names to recommend.
Gregg, embattled since a forgettable radio interview last week, would be kept on in a diminished or part-time position. It is unclear whether Lonie Glieberman would continue to have a day-to-day role.
Lonie Glieberman has said he would resign if Gregg were replaced and is deeply concerned that a new senior executive would interfere with the debut of head coach John Jenkins.
"It's wrong when people try to hire people behind people's backs," he said. "It is not being clearly communicated.
''There has been talk about restructuring the organization, but, as far as I know, no decisions have been made. All I know is my dad wants to do what is best for the Ottawa Renegades."
Lonie Glieberman embarked on a radical strategy shortly after his father purchased majority-control of the franchise in June. By cutting back on staff and overhead, he modeled the business after his ski resort in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, as well as staging risque marketing promotions to appeal to younger fans.
Glieberman faced opposition at almost every turn, most recently because management has vacated Ottawa since November and because the team lost free agents Josh Ranek and George Hudson. Glieberman, Gregg and Jenkins all spent the offseason in the U.S.
Kershaw and Lisowski, both former senior executives with the club, are pushing O'Billovich because of his deep Ottawa ties and extended league track record, believing he has the credibility to serve as the franchise's front-man. The 65-year-old coached at both Ottawa universities and was a player and assistant coach with the Rough Riders.
Typically, changes in senior positions of CFL teams happen well before the free-agency period, which is why the Lions are not crazy about the timing of Ottawa's overture. Free agency began five days ago.
Besides Ranek and Hudson, the Renegades also stand to lose offensive lineman Pascal Cheron, who continues to talk with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.