Monday, February 12, 2007

Schottenheimer Fired

Less than four weeks ago amidst lots of speculation that Marty Schottenheimer would be fired for losing a playoff game to New England Patriots Chargers President and CEO Dean Spanos made this statement:

“I have decided that Marty Schottenheimer is the best person to lead the Chargers in the 2007 season. General Manager A.J. Smith and I agree on this fundamental point. That is why we are pleased to welcome Marty and his coaching staff back for Marty’s sixth season as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

“We are all bitterly disappointed how this season ended, but we can’t allow our disappointment to cloud the achievements of our franchise over the past few years. Only two teams have won more regular season games over the past three years than the Chargers. We have 24 key players under long-term contracts through at least 2009. This is a fine young team, with great chemistry, and right now stability is important for this team. I’m already looking forward to next season.

“That is why we are also offering one-year contract extensions for Coach Schottenheimer’s staff, through 2008. We also offered a one-year $4.5 million contract extension to Marty, with a team option buy-out of $1 million for the 2008 season. He decided not to accept this extension, and I respect his decision.

“Now it is time to put this issue behind us and move forward together. That is what I told both Marty and A.J. when I met with them this afternoon. The entire Chargers family will do whatever it takes to bring a championship to San Diego.”

Today Spanos is singing a much different tune:

"The process of dealing with these coaching changes convinced me that we simply could not move forward with such dysfunction between our head coach and general manager, in short, this entire process over the last month convinced me beyond any doubt that I had to act to change this untenable situation."

When the Chargers lost their offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to the Miami Dolphins and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to the Dallas Cowboys Marty handled the news the way any experienced proffesional coach would, he simply said "Change is inevitable." However general manager A.J. Smith had a much different reaction to the loss of both coordinators: "Both in the same year — Wow."

It is common knowledge that Marty and A. J. Smith have not gotten along the last couple years. But I fail to understand how you mitigate the pending disaster of losing both coordinators and several other assistant coaches by getting rid of the head coach also. Marty Schottenheimer came into the Chargers Organization five years ago when they badly needed a savior. He has turned San Diego into a football powerhouse. But apparently the owners of the Chargers put more emphasis on the coordinators and a single playoff loss than they do the work Marty has done.

Personally I'm kind of relieved. I can move the Chargers from my favorites list firmly back onto to my I-couldn't-care-less list. But I'm also thinking of moving them a little lower to my hope-to-see-them fail list. After all they waited until all the head coaching vacancies in the NFL were filled and then fired Marty. That seems pretty chicken-shit to my way of thinking.

Whichever team Marty ends up working for is whatever position, they will be getting a great coach. I just hope it's not the Raiders or the Cowboys.

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