The San Diego Chargers fired head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith on Monday after the team went 7-9 and missed the postseason for the third season in a row. The news is a long time coming.
Chargers' president Dean Spanos issued the following statement on Monday:
"I thank A.J. and Norv for the determination and integrity they brought to the Chargers each and every day. 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."
Rumors swirled in 2011 that Turner was going to be fired by Chargers' president Dean Spanos, but Spanos apparently rethought the decision. The San Diego Union-Tribune was the first to report that Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith would be fired at the end of the 2012 season, though Spanos responded to the report by saying such rumors were "pure speculation."
In some ways, Turner was doomed from his hiring in 2007.
After serving as a head coach for the Washington Redskins from 1994-2000, and then with the Oakland Raiders from 2004-05, Turner was brought to San Diego to replace coach Marty Schottenheimer despite Shottenheimer leading the team to a 14-2 record in 2006. At the time, Shottenheimer's poor relationship with Smith and failed playoff performances despite successful regular seasons was the reason for his firing.
Inheriting what was widely considered a talented football team, Turner led the Chargers to AFC West titles in his first three seasons, losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship playoff game in 2007 and then falling the next two years in the AFC divisional rounds.
But Turner failed to make the playoffs in the final three years of his tenure, despite the belief that his roster had the on-paper talent to compete.
San Diego will owe Turner $3 million for the final year of his contract.
Turner's record as a head coach is 114-122-1, and his 237 career games is the most by a coach who has a losing career record. He went 3-3 in the playoffs with San Diego, but overall the team is sub-.500 following its last playoff game.