This story was broken by none other than Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com
Bears head coach Lovie Smith is making long-term plans for the future of the team and one of the plans could surprise many Bears fans.
FOXSports.com has learned that Chicago has decided to not renew the contract of defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Team sources say that Smith and Rivera met recently and agreed to allow Rivera to pursue other opportunities. The sources also contend that Smith will likely end up promoting Bob Babich from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator.
People inside the Bears saw this coming for a while as Babich has been reached out to from a handful of teams in the last two off-seasons and Smith, who unlike many other coaches does not block his assistants from moving up, did not want to lose him. Thus, the head coach had a tough decision to make and promoting Babich was his choice.
Babich is also viewed as more of a long-term option for Smith as Rivera was in the running for several head coaching jobs this off-season and last year. To this point, however, he has failed to land one. He did not sign an extension last off-season, which allowed him to be a free agent after the Bears' Super Bowl run. Most teams figured he'd get one of the vacant head coaching openings and as a result has been left out in the cold.
As for a defensive coordinator opening, there's only one open right now and that is Ted Cottrell's for the taking in San Diego. Still, now that Rivera is officially free another team may decide to make a run at a man who helped guide a unit to this year's prized game.
Rivera has been with Smith since he took over the head coaching duties in Chicago.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Norv Turner - 58-82-1 - Replaces Marty Schottenheimer - 205-139-1 - As Chargers Coach - FOXSports.com and ESPN.com
Profootballtalk.com reports that the hard-working Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com broke this story and not ESPN.
Whatever, this is not good news for the Oakland Raiders, who fired Turner just two years ago. Now they have to deal with two angry ex-Raider coaches: Turner and Denver Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan.
Chargers hire Turner as new head coach
By Len Pasquarelli
Hoping the third time will be a winner for Norv Turner, the San Diego Chargers on Monday hired the San Francisco offensive coordinator to succeed Marty Schottenheimer as head coach.
Norv Turner's Coaching Record
The Chargers are giving Norv Turner his third crack at being an NFL head coach. He's 58-82-1 with one playoff appearance in nine seasons leading an NFL team.
Year Team Record Playoffs
1994 WAS 3-13 None
1995 WAS 6-10 None
1996 WAS 9-7 None
1997 WAS 8-7-1 None
1998 WAS 6-10 None
1999 WAS 10-6 1-1
2000 WAS 7-6 None
2004 OAK 5-11 None
2005 OAK 4-12 None
The Chargers have scheduled a 4:30 p.m. ET news conference to introduce Turner as their new head coach.
Longtime league assistant coach Ted Cottrell, whose experience with the 3-4 defense is extensive, has been hired as defensive coordinator for the Chargers.
Turner, 54, compiled a 58-82-1 record as head coach of the Washington Redskins (1994-2000) and the Oakland Raiders (2004-2005). He served as the San Francisco offensive coordinator last season and was credited with the dramatic progress achieved by 49ers' second-year quarterback Alex Smith.
Contract details were not immediately available.
One of six known candidates interviewed by San Diego officials after Schottenheimer was dismissed, Turner was the lone man with primary expertise on the offensive side. Originally, it was believed the Chargers preferred that their new head coach have a background on the defensive side of the ball.
Turner interviewed earlier this month for the head coach vacancy in Dallas, where he played a big role as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator during the team's dominance in the 1990s, but did not land that job.
In San Diego, he will inherit a high-octane Chargers offense featuring star tailback and 2006 most valuable player LaDainian Tomlinson. But Turner will also be responsible for the continued development of quarterback Philip Rivers, who was in his first year as the starter in 2006.
Beyond Turner, the other known San Diego head coach candidates -- Gary Gibbs (New Orleans), Mike Zimmer (Atlanta), Mike Singletary (San Francisco), Ron Rivera (Chicago) and Rex Ryan (Baltimore) -- are all coaches whose expertise is on the defensive side. All but Singletary are current coordinators.
Cottrell has interviewed in the past for head coach positions, and came very close to landing the top job in San Francisco four years ago.
San Diego officials prefer to retain a 3-4 defense, the scheme for which the personnel is best suited, and hiring Cottrell allows that. Cottrell was actually recommended to Schottenheimer by Smith when then-Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their new head coach.
Schottenheimer instead leaned toward hiring his younger brother, Kurt Schottenheimer, as the replacement for Phillips. In addition to Marty Schottenheimer, the Chargers, who posted an NFL-best 14-2 record in 2006 but were ousted in the divisional round of the playoffs, have lost five assistant coaches since the end of the season. That includes both coordinators.
Cottrell, 59, possesses 22 seasons of NFL experience as an assistant coach, including three stints as a defensive coordinator. He most recently worked as coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings (2004-2005). Cottrell lost his job when the Vikings fired coach Mike Tice after the 2005 season, and he worked in the NFL office in 2006.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.