The San Diego Chargers are a business. This is the harsh reality Charger fans have come to realize as we wipe ourselves clean after the dump Dean Spanos took on us Tuesday morning when he announced Norv Turner would remain head coach for the 2012 season. Make no mistake about it; this was not a football decision. If it were, Norv Turner’s firing could have been justified two seasons ago when he played for a FG in OT of a playoff game that essentially caused his heavily favored team that finished 13-3 during the regular season to be upset at home by a one dimensional team with a rookie at QB. If Spanos thought Turner deserved another shot as head coach after the Jets debacle, he certainly could have fired Turner after the 2010 season when Turner seemingly had his hands in his pockets while his Special Teams unit had undoubtedly the worst season in the history of professional football. If the decision to keep Turner after 2010 left us scratching our heads, Tuesday’s bombshell appalled every Charger fan who’s watched this team play shoulda, woulda, coulda football over the past five seasons. From a football perspective it made no sense. But like I said, the decision to bring back Norv Turner doesn’t have anything to do with football. It has everything to do with the $6 million that is owed to Norv Turner over the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
It is pretty evident now that when Dean Spanos said he “had a lot of evaluating to do” he wasn’t talking about his football team but rather whether his pocketbook could take the hit of paying a top tiered head coach plus the difference between what Turner would have probably earned as offensive coordinator for another team and the $6 million Spanos owed him. Any owner who gives a damn about his team knows when a coach has used up all his collateral with the team’s fan base. For Norv Turner, that happened this year yet Dean Spanos used the win over the Ravens and the meaningless season finale at Oakland to justify bringing Turner back and saving himself $6 million. Charger fans may as well cheer for Microsoft or Walmart (or if you want to pick a company that is more analogous to the Chargers, try Kodak).
And Spanos and the Chargers can spew as much propaganda through Kevin Acee and the Union-Tribune as they want. If the Chargers played so hard for Turner they wouldn’t have gotten smoked 38-10 by a Lions team that let fucking Matt Flynn light them up for 480 yards and 6 TDs the following week. If they cared for their coach they wouldn’t be playing games like they were half asleep. If they respected him, they wouldn’t be a group notorious for getting drunk at the bars before key games.
(Sidenote: While we’re here, I enjoyed the veiled threat regarding the move to LA we received the same day of the Turner announcement — i.e. the Spanos’ way of saying be thankful you even have a football team. My take: Go right ahead. LA wouldn’t give two shits about the Chargers. They have USC, the Lakers, and now the Clippers. The Chargers have a 30-year old QB who threw 20 INTs last season, an injury-prone RB with fumbleitis and maybe two above average players on defense. The Lakers and Clippers have more superstars on their 12-man rosters alone than the Chargers do on their entire 52-man roster. The Chargers would be back in San Diego licking their wounds within five years.)
Don’t think for a moment either that Dean Spanos will spend the money he saved by keeping Norv Turner on a “free-agent splash”. The Chargers could have signed Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason or traded for Steve Smith or Osi Umenyiora but didn’t because Dean Spanos treats nickels like manhole covers. When you draft like AJ Smith has drafted the past few seasons and you’re too cheap to sign free agents the current Chargers are what you get. The most telling line in Dean Spanos’ statement on Tuesday that reflects his level of commitment to this team’s success on the field was when he proclaimed, “I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back into the playoffs.” This made me want to scream, “Playoffs!?!? What the fuck happened to the Super Bowl?”
In the end, the fans are going to have to live with this asinine decision. Next season in addition to the AFC West teams the Chargers are playing the Browns, Titans, Ravens, Falcons and Bucs at home and Pittsburg, the Bengals, Jets, Panthers and Saints on the road. A lot can happen between now and September but it’s plausible that the Chargers go 7-9 next year. They have no depth, they don’t sign free agents, they draft like shit and they have a coach who brings the worst out in his players as opposed to the best. A new coach would have at least brought some new energy to a team that’s been irrelevant outside of San Diego for the past 2 years.
Dean Spanos kept Norv Turner because he didn’t want to pay. Now, we have to pay.
Follow me on Twitter: @KenCaminiti21