The Coast News Group
Chargers President Dean Spanos announces Monday the firings of head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. The move comes after the team’s losing record and a third consecutive year of missing the playoffs. Photo by Tony Cagala

Chargers let coach, GM go

SAN DIEGO – Even after being relieved of his duties as the San Diego Chargers head coach, for Norv Turner his final press conference was still about his team and football. 

An hour before meeting with the media Monday Turner would present several game balls to players that had an impact in the team’s last win of the season, including one to veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, who was ejected from the game in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Raiders after engaging in a scuffle with Raiders running back Mike Goodson.

“I told our guys it was going to be a fight, and you play the Raiders it’s a fight and he took it a little more literal than I wish he would have. But it’s what he’s all about,” Turner said.

Finishing the season with a 9-7 record and missing the postseason again, Chargers President Dean Spanos was compelled to make a change.

On Monday, following weeks of speculation that Turner and general manager A.J. Smith would be fired, Spanos made it official.

“I met with them both this morning, and I thanked them both for their dedication and their commitment to try to win a world championship here,” Spanos said. “Obviously we didn’t get there. I knew at the beginning of the season that if we didn’t get into the playoffs and win some games that I was probably going to have to make this decision.”

Spanos added that he’s now looking forwards, and will be consulting with Ron Wolf to help find a new general manager and head coach.

The team will be looking to hire a new general manager before hiring a head coach. Spanos said they’ve already sent consent letters out to potential candidates and that they hope to start interviewing this week.

As for a personality type that Spanos might be looking for in their new hires: “Anybody that can win,” he said.

Having a chance to look back, Turner said his time as head coach of the Chargers has been a lot of fun. “The last three years have been an awful lot of work because…we continuously had changing lineups. That’s the hardest thing on a coach. We’ve lost a lot of good players to injuries and free agency,” he added.

Turner said the next coach and general manager will need to find a way to add more players so they can compete in this league.

“Someone wrote three weeks ago that this team is not that far away from being a playoff team. I would disagree. I know the things that have to get done for that to happen. So if this team’s comes next year and they get some things done that help them get better and they are able to make the playoffs, I would hope it would be a surprise to all the Chargers fans and they would be excited about it.

“And I would hope it’s not the expectation starting in August. Because I think you need to give whoever the guy who comes in here and the group he brings in some time to get this thing back where it was two or three years ago.”

A.J. Smith, who’s been the general manager for 10 years, wasn’t available for comment.

For Turner, the Del Mar resident said it was way too early to say what was next for him. As a coach, Turner said, you’re trying to change peoples’ lives. “I’ve got some time to think about what I want to do, but…I’ve got some time to coach. I still feel healthy and young, so we’ll just see what happens.”