After finishing 14-2 last season, Smith "Billicked" Marty Schottenheimer last spring. And hired Norvell Turner, one of the worst NFL head coaches to have more than three shots at the job. Which explains why the 1-3 record didn't come as much of a surprise to anybody, although it made Chargers fan plenty irate.
But a funny thing happened on the way to another Turner-led losing season: San Diego went on a 10-2 run, won the division, and will host the Titans this weekend in the wild-card round. And oh, yeah, Smith got a new deal out of it:
A.J. Smith yesterday signed a five-year contract extension through 2014, believed to be the third-richest and the longest pact among the league's general managers.I suppose that is rewarding, particularly since he is now the third-richest NFL GM. Smith has done a swell job of putting together a great Chargers team, and apparently the little fact that he fired Schottenheimer for personal reasons (apparently, the two weren't fond of each other ... to say the least), didn't affect Mr. Spanos' decision to keep Smith around.
"The rewarding thing for me is . . . the fact that he wants me to continue with him into the future," Smith said, referring to team President Dean Spanos. "He obviously must be comfortable."
And hell, if Turner wins a playoff game Schottenheimer may be a long forgotten memory. Who woulda thought that three months ago?