Eric Tillman / Renegades update**

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ERIC TILLMAN'S phone got a workout yesterday.

It usually does, but the past 24 hours have been particularly busy.

One call stood out.

The former Renegades GM received a shout from the team's majority owner, Bernie Glieberman.

"It was a cordial, friendly conversation," Tillman said from his home in Manotick yesterday.

The two will speak in more depth later this week to discuss a possible role for Tillman in the club's football administration.

Tillman emerged as the leading candidate to take over the department after Glieberman and minority owner Bill Smith met in Toronto on Monday with CFL commissioner Tom Wright.

The owners believe Tillman could provide an instant shot of credibility to a franchise desperately in need of it, following the debacles that have recently emerged from the team's operations at Lansdowne Park.

The dominos began falling last week when Lonie Glieberman, the owner's son, stepped down as boss on the the team's business side.

That move spurred Bernie Glieberman to begin a search for a candidate to run the team's business operations and find replacements for consultants Phil Kershaw and John Lisowski, who have been running the office.

Tillman was fired by Lisowski as GM during the 2004 season and would never return to the team as long as Lisowski remained part of the picture.


The question for Bernie Glieberman now is the role of Forrest Gregg, the VP of football operations and GM.

With Tillman on the verge of being offered a job, it's likely Gregg will be asked to let go of his managerial role and allow Tillman to take control of the football side.

Yesterday afternoon, Gregg said he was unaware of the latest developments involving Tillman, but said from his home in Colorado that he would serve in any post Glieberman requested.

"If you're asking would I be able to work with Eric Tillman, the answer would be, of course," said Gregg.

Renegades coach John Jenkins also welcomed a Tillman candidacy.

"Eric understands the great background that Forrest has and he respects him tremendously," said Jenkins from his home in Little Rock, Ark. "I know Eric would be more than capable, and I'm sure he'd be excited to get a fresh start in this organization, with everybody heading in the right direction."

Tillman and Jenkins are friends and worked together in 1997 when the Argos won the Grey Cup, with Tillman as GM and Jenkins as an assistant coach.

Darryl Edralin, the team's new defensive backfield coach, will arrive in Ottawa later this week and defensive co-ordinator Rod Rust is due in town early next week.

Meanwhile, Glieberman and Smith remained silent on candidates to take over the team's business side.

It's believed the owners are courting Washington Nationals executive Bob Nicholson.

Chris Overholt, a former marketing executive with the Florida Panthers and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, was a name that emerged in one report.

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The details have to be sorted out, but the Ottawa Renegades' path is clear.

Though he has not received a contract offer, or clarification about the CFL team's muddled power structure, former Renegades general manager Eric Tillman is set to return to a football operations position with many stakeholders pushing for an announcement within a week.

"I spoke with Bernie and we had a brief and friendly conversation," Tillman said yesterday. "He indicated he wanted to talk to me in greater detail later this week."

In his role as CFL analyst for both Rogers Sportsnet and the CBC, Tillman has expressed grave concerns for the Ottawa franchise and affection for co-owners Bernie and Lonie Glieberman. Over the past year, Tillman has been tormented that his first Renegades tenure ended amid a feud with the business side and derailed the football plan he put in place during the club's 2002 expansion season.

He is also close friends with head coach John Jenkins and has previously pledged to "help him any way I can." Even if he won't admit it, Tillman knows that turning down the Renegades' forthcoming offer would leave Jenkins at the peril of a new boss.

All of this will not sit well with fans should Tillman now turn down a chance to remedy some of the Renegades' problems and return to the television career he says he enjoys. Tillman's salary must be defined, but few expect problems there.

Beyond that, the peripheral scenarios encircling the club change with majority owner Bernie Glieberman's volatile whims.

Glieberman and minority partner Bill Smith have agreed to hire a new chief executive officer and to proceed with interim business stewardship should the search drag on much longer.

The Gliebermans, including deposed club president Lonie, are arguing to keep general manager Forrest Gregg involved in the organization, which is agreeable to Tillman, who doesn't want to be known as the person who forced out the American football legend. Smith could be willing to agree to keep Gregg aboard, so long as Tillman is making and explaining the decisions going forward.

On the business side, there are now rumblings that former Toronto Argonauts president Bob Nicholson has pulled his name from consideration for the Renegades' CEO job. Nicholson, who works for the Major League Baseball-owned Washington Nationals, is viewed as a star candidate in several circles.

The league and Renegades owners interviewed another candidate, Chris Overholt, at a Monday meeting in Toronto.

Overholt, who did not return a message left at his Lake Placid, New York, office yesterday, is currently the interim executive director for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. He previously worked as chief marketing officer for the NHL's Florida Panthers, and as a vice-president of sales for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, the company controlling the NHL's Leafs and NBA's Raptors.

More urgently, the league and Renegades are searching for interim operators, either a person or company who could run the club's day-to-day business affairs until a CEO is in place.

Presently, part-time consultants Phil Kershaw and John Lisowski have those responsibilities, but neither will be retained should Tillman join the organization.

Former Saskatchewan Roughriders general manager Al Ford continues to be rumoured to run the business operations, having already served as a league-selected interim operator for the insolvent Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2003. But in an interview Monday, Ford said he had not spoken to anyone with the Renegades.

But will Eric Tillman go back to the Gades? I'm not so sure but maybe without Lonie there and Gregg taking a different role, maybe. That would be awesome for them for sure.

Gregg needs to go as well.

I wouldn't ask Jenkins or Gregg for their comments on anything that Bernie Glieberman does as they would just echo Bernie's position no matter what that may be. On the good side though, Bernie is doing the right thing.