CFL teams take stock of Baltimore's talent


Bob Price, defensive coordinator for Baltimore's Canadian Football League team, has interviewed for the head coaching job of the Toronto Argonauts.

Jim Popp, Baltimore's director of player personnel, has interviewed for a similar front-office position with Memphis' expansion team.

Call it the cost of success.

Price's defensive unit was a critical factor in reaching the Grey Cup last season. It finished third in the league against the rush, third in fewest touchdowns allowed and fourth in yards given up.

Last week, Price joined the list of candidates interviewed by Toronto general manager Bob O'Billovich, who gave up his coaching post after the season.

The front-runner is believed to be John Hufnagel, offensive coordinator with the Calgary Stampeders. O'Billovich also has talked to ex-Hamilton coach John Gregory, Joe Paopao, offensive coordinator of the Edmonton Eskimos and Mike Farragalli of Bowling Green and son of Joe Farragalli, a former head coach with Montreal.

Price, 39, has spent four years in the CFL, three as defensive coordinator.

Neither Price nor O'Billovich was available for comment.

But O'Billovich has said he wants to name his head coach by the end of the month.

Popp, meanwhile, apparently has the inside track in Memphis. Pepper Rodgers, president and perhaps coach of the team, said he wants to talk further with the man who helped assemble Baltimore's roster.

"We have not offered anybody a contract in terms of a financial offer," Rodgers said.

"He [Popp] is very knowledgeable with a tremendous amount of energy. I like him a lot."

Popp, 30, interviewed Tuesday with Memphis general manager Steve Ehrhart.

"I'm trying to evaluate what's best for my career. Any decision I make will be based on a career move," Popp said.

Team owner Jim Speros gave permission to Toronto to talk with Price.

"If a guy can move up and be head coach, I'm not going to stop him," Speros said. "If they wanted him as defensive coordinator, I would not have granted permission."

Speros said the same guideline applies to Popp, who has spent three seasons in the CFL.

"I do not expect to lose him," Speros said. "I talked to [coach] Don Matthews and Don said, 'Do what you have to do to keep Jim Popp.'

"If Don wants somebody, it's my job to keep him here."

In Louisiana, the Shreveport Pirates announced they have hired former Baltimore coach Joe Barnes as offensive coordinator.

Barnes, an 11-year veteran CFL quarterback and two-time Grey Cup winner, coached quarterbacks and running backs last year -- his first as a pro coach. He was told he would not be rehired for 1995 in what he called a "restructuring" of the coaching staff.

"Don and Steve [Buratto, offensive coordinator] felt the coordinator should coach the quarterbacks," Barnes said.

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