Now that San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner has officially been dismissed, a team source said a consideration has to be made that's foreign to other franchises:
Who will play to the Los Angeles market?
As the Chargers (7-9) fired Turner and general manager A.J. Smith on Monday following another disappointing season, there are some unusual assessments that owner Dean Spanos must think through.
Spanos must settle whether the Chargers are going to stay in San Diego (which is his hope) or move to Los Angeles. And Spanos has roughly one year to settle it all.
"Everybody understands that Dean wants to be in San Diego," the team source said. "That has always been his priority."
Whether San Diego voters approve a ballot measure on a new stadium is critical, but so will be upcoming talks with new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Shortly after being elected in November, Filner declared that there would be no "sweetheart" deal for the Chargers.
According to multiple sources with an understanding of the Los Angeles and Chargers situation, the earliest the team would move north is 2014. That’s if they ever do. With that in mind, the Spanos family isn’t just hiring a coach to reinvigorate the San Diego fan base; it has to hire a coach who is seemingly a good fit for L.A. That’s why, for all the talk of Andy Reid wanting to coach the Chargers, that’s extremely unlikely.
Despite Reid’s L.A. roots (he grew up there and graduated from Marshall High), he’s not viewed as the type of winner that will grab a fan base that is used to the tradition and glitter of the Lakers, Dodgers, USC football and UCLA basketball. Reid got the Philadelphia Eagles to one Super Bowl and five NFC championship games, but failed to win a title.
How about Mike Holmgren, whom Reid worked for before landing with the Eagles? He has the personality and the California roots. He also has the experience of running the personnel side.
[Related: Tracking all of the NFL coach/GM firings]
Jon Gruden? Now you’re talking. Gruden may have plenty of chinks in his armor (never developed a quarterback, depends too much on old players, too emotional), but he has personality. He is a star and that could carry the Chargers initially as they wade through the complicated realities of playing in the Rose Bowl (which already has taken steps to be a temporary home of whichever team moves there) for two or three years and trying to sell the team to a wary fan base.
The same could be said for Chip Kelly of Oregon.
Of course, guys like Holmgren, Gruden and Kelly cost serious money. The Chargers have never paid that much for a coach, so making a splashy move also will require a leap of faith for Spanos.
Then again, if you’re talking about moving your team to the City of Angels, you’re already willing to leap.
Spanos can’t do what he did when he tabbed Marty Schottenheimer in 2002 and then Turner in 2007. Schottenheimer and Turner were retreads, guys with NFL head-coaching experience but no overwhelming success.
In Los Angeles, you better have somebody like Joe Torre or Phil Jackson if you expect fans to take you seriously right away.
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