Consultants say Renegades should punt Lonie, Gregg

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Ottawa Renegades majority owner Bernie Glieberman is being urged to remove club president Lonie Glieberman and general manager Forrest Gregg and hire Edmonton Eskimos general manager Paul Jones, the Citizen has learned.

It is believed that Phil Kershaw and John Lisowski dispatched a memorandum to the elder Glieberman earlier this week, when the part-time consultants detailed their most recent vision for the CFL franchise.

Jones would take over as GM and vice-president of football operations, while Bernie Glieberman would assume the title of team president from his son, Lonie.

However, because the elder Glieberman lives in suburban Detroit, the Ottawa-based consultants suggested that they run the club on a day-to-day basis.

Yesterday, Jones admitted he has known the Kershaw family for years, particularly Mike Kershaw, an assistant football coach at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.

"I've talked to Phil because his son and I are friends," Jones said from his Louisiana home. "I haven't talked to anybody about a job. I have a great job, and I'm happy where I am."

In a statement relayed through a club spokesman yesterday, Eskimos chief operating officer Rick LeLacheur said: "The Renegades have not approached the Eskimos for permission to talk to Paul Jones. We were unaware of any interest."

Kershaw said the Renegades were not "officially" searching for a general manager, but that "any CFL team with an opening would be interested in Paul Jones because he has a great track record."

Kershaw also said he and Lisowski were not engaged in a power-grab and that neither wanted to handle the club's business affairs on a permanent basis.

"We're both in the same boat: We're here to help and assist Bernie because we care about the franchise," Kershaw said. "Eventually, maybe there is a great, anointed person, but first we want to fix it up."

The consultants have told Bernie Glieberman that his son and Gregg are impediments towards selling corporate sponsorships and season tickets and that the football product will also suffer under their guidance.

Currently, more than 70 per cent of last year's season-ticket holders have renewed for 2006, and the team's total stands at roughly 4,000. The Renegades also intend to repeat their $99 spring season-ticket sale, which attracted nearly 6,000 subscribers last year.

The club is projecting losses of at least $2 million this season after losing $3.7 million in 2005.

Lonie Glieberman has been trying to convince his father to hire either a chief executive officer or former general manager Eric Tillman, depending on whether Bernie believes the problems are business- or football-related. The younger Glieberman realizes that change is coming, and his main concern is hiring someone who would be able to work with Gregg and new head coach John Jenkins.

Tillman, who continues to live in Ottawa, and Jenkins have a longstanding friendship. Jones and Jenkins worked together with both the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

However, the consultants, especially Lisowski, are decidedly anti-Tillman even though they believe the club's problems can be solved by hiring a credible football frontman. Previously, they recommended Bob O'Billovich, who had a brief flirtation with the Renegades before deciding to remain with the B.C. Lions as that club's player-personnel director.

Jones is considered a premier CFL talent-evaluator.

He is personally responsible for the Eskimos' signings of receiver Jason Tucker, defensive end Rahim Abdullah, who is now with the Calgary Stampeders, return specialist Tony Tompkins and others.

Tucker, Abdullah and Tompkins would all rank among the CFL's best at their respective positions.

As Duane Forde mentions in his column, until the Gades ownership situation becomes more stable, the Gades will not be able to attract quality people like Tillman into the fold.

That's why the O'B discussions didn't get far, he's too smart to be involved with the Gliebs.