Chargers Tab Former Packers GM Wolf As Consultant In Search For Smith's Replacement
Chargers President & Chair Dean Spanos on Monday "informed head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith they've been relieved of their duties," according to Michael Gehlken of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Turner had "one year left on his contract," while Smith "had two." Spanos said, "You could see with the team the arrow was pointed in the wrong direction. ... It was probably a lot of things -- player personnel decisions as well as some coaching failures." Gehlken reported the search for a new GM and head coach has "been underway for weeks." Spanos said that former Packers GM Ron Wolf has "been hired as a consultant to help in the search." Wolf will join Spanos, Dir of College Scouting John Spanos and Exec VP/Football Operations & Assistant GM Ed McGuire in the process to "first find the Chargers' next general manager." Meanwhile, John Spanos is "transitioning into a role as head of team football operations." There is no "firm timetable to when he will assume that post, which would give him absolute power over all roster decisions." Dean Spanos said, "It's not in the next couple of years. I'm not ready to retire yet" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 12/31). In San Diego, Kevin Acee wrote it is up to Dean Spanos to "ensure this wasn't change for change's sake," as Spanos will be "hiring his fourth general manager and fifth head coach." Acee: "No matter who he relies on for counsel, this is on him. Always has been. And now he’s running out of time." All the "excitement that had this town in a blue and gold lather for the better part of a decade was fruitless." The pursuit of excellence has "fizzled into a puddle of mediocrity." Spanos on Monday said, "I take 100 percent responsibility for the last 18 years." Acee wrote Spanos' "greatest strength is his biggest weakness." Some "call his problem fear." Acee: "I see it as Spanos being loyal to a fault" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/1).
HUMBLE UPON EXIT: The UNION-TRIBUNE's Acee in a separate piece wrote Smith was "humble and forthright about his feelings of failure after 10 seasons and no Super Bowls, despite presiding over the most successful decade in Chargers history." But he also was "evasive as ever, especially in matters pertaining to" John Spanos and Turner. In fact, he was at times, "uncharacteristically, downright politically correct," which in itself "speaks to the humility he showed." Smith said, "It's tough. I've seen a lot of people go through this over my many years in the league. Now it's my turn. This is the life I’ve chosen, and there is a price to pay when you don’t win. ... The part that hurts the most is I was given an opportunity and responsibility to chart a course that would deliver a Super Bowl trophy for Dean, his family and the fans. I failed to get the job done. I don’t like losing, and I don’t like failing. This will sting for a while." Smith, when asked who he thought would be the next Chargers GM, added, "I don’t know, but I have recommended [Chargers' Dir of Player Personnel] Jimmy Raye. I have recommended Jimmy twice before on other jobs, but it did not work out for him. Maybe my third recommendation is the charm." When asked if he would entertain the idea of working in the media, Smith said, "You have to know everything about everything to have a job like that. I'm not qualified to enter that line of work" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 12/31).