SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 30: Antonio Gates #85 hugs head coach Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers after the 24-21 win over the Oakland Raiders on December 30, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
For weeks, it had been assumed the Chargers would be making a few changes. Just before 10:00 A.M. time in San Diego on New Year's Eve of 2012, the Chargers made it official.
Head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith will not return for 2013.
Their successors have not been named yet, but it[s assumed assistant G.M. Jimmy Raye will take over for Smith, and start to lead the search for a new head coach.
That process takes a few weeks because many of the candidates they'll want to talk to are currently busy doing something the Chargers wish they were doing.
Getting ready for the playoffs.
Turner went 59-43 (including playoffs) in his six years with the Chargers, one of the most successful stretches of any coach in franchise history. However, his teams have shown a steady decline over that time, going from an AFC Championship Game appearance in 2007 to a losing record in 2012.
Still, Turner is one of the most respected and well-liked coaches in the league. He will likely have no trouble finding a job as an offensive coordinator with another team.
Smith's tenure began in 2003. In his 10 years as general manager, the Chargers won 5 division titles. Through a string of strong drafts, A.J. built a roster that was often described as having the most talent in the NFL. in the mid-2000's. But then he missed on several high picks (Larry English, anyone?) and the talent level, especially on the offensive line, dropped off dramatically.
Team president Dean Spanos will hold a news conference at 11:45, but released this statement this morning:
“I thank A.J. and Norv for the determination and integrity they brought to the Chargers each and every day,” said Spanos. “Both Norv and A.J. are consummate NFL professionals, and they understand that in this league, the bottom-line is winning. My only goal is the Super Bowl, and that is why I have decided to move in a new direction with both our head coach and general manager positions. I am committed to our great fans, and we will do whatever we possibly can to achieve that goal.”