Thursday, March 1, 2007
It would seem that the NFL coaching carousel has come to a grinding halt already. It just had one huge surprise.
It caught many off guard but not this wise old sports sage. Near the end of the season, I wrote there was a rumor that Marty Shottenheimer would not be allowed to complete the final year of his contract at San Diego.
When it was announced on Monday evening, February 12, the news media termed the decision “shocking.” That decision to let Marty go had been made by the president of the Chargers, Dean Spanos. It was concluded that Spanos blamed Shottenheimer for an ongoing dispute with the general manager, A.J. Smith.
Yours truly thinks it was the first round loss to New England. It incensed the Chargers’ hierarchy that the NFL team with the best record (14-2) couldn’t get past the Patriots. So the search team had to go to work and get a replacement for Marty. One wonders when the quest starts, just what drives the intention. Is it to secure the best available coach or a high profile scapegoat?
At the beginning of the 2006 season, there were 10 head coaches hired. Of that 10, seven had never been head coaches; however, they had high credentials as assistants. Were they expected to take a team to the playoffs the first year or just get it moving in the right direction?
Two of the new coaches hired, Gary Kubiak (Houston) and Sean Payton (New Orleans), had monumental tasks before them. The latter’s team had finished the ’05 season 3-13. The former’s was even worse at 2-14. We know Payton and the Saints marched into Chicago. I don’t know where Houston marched to.
The greatest all time “turnaround” after a coaching change is arguably that of 1963 when Al Davis took over the head job for the Raiders. They went 10-4 in his first year after finishing 1-13 in ’62.
Three teams will have new coaches in ’07 – Miami, Dallas and San Diego.
The bosses at San Diego stated that they were committed to finding the “best replacement” possible. So they dug long and hard and found Norv Turner. It is not the intent of this column to beat anyone up, but the record speaks for itself. Turner has been a head coach on two other occasions, with Washington and Oakland. His combined record was 58-82-1.
Will he get the Chargers back to the playoffs and win that all-important first game, or will he have to start listening for the carousel music?
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