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Dean Spanos: Looking forward to the process of hiring a new general manager and a new head coach

Posted Jan 2, 2013

Chargers President Dean Spanos announces the that Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith will not return next year.



Opening Statement:

“Good morning, thank you for coming today. Obviously this is a very difficult day for me personally having had the opportunity to work with A.J. (Smith) for 10 years and Norv (Turner) for the last six. I don’t think anybody could have found two more dedicated and loyal individuals. I met with them both this morning and thanked them both for their dedication and commitment to trying to win a world championship here. Obviously we did not get there. I knew at the beginning of the season that if we didn’t get into the playoffs and win some games that I was probably going to have to make this decision. I’m looking forward now to the process of hiring a new general manager and a new head coach. As I think most of you know, I’ve hired Ron Wolf to come on as a consultant to help me through this hiring process. This process has begun as we are talking right now. We have sent out consent letters to teams that have potential candidates that we are looking at that are in the playoffs. We are waiting to hear back. If we receive approval there will be some interviews done hopefully this week.”

On preferring an offensive-minded or defensive-minded head coach:

“Let me clarify one thing. I believe that my goal here is to try to get a general manager in place first then go out and hire our new head coach. That may not be possible because of who is going to be out there and what consents we may receive. That is my goal right now. Until I get the general manager in place I really can’t answer that. I am going to depend on him for his advice and what direction we should go.”

On Chargers Director of Player Personnel Jimmy Raye being interviewed for the general manager position:

“He will absolutely get interviewed.”

On how long the interview process will take:

“I don’t know to be honest with you. There is no time frame. Obviously as everybody knows there are a lot of teams out there right now that are looking for coaches and general managers. It is going to be very interesting in the next several weeks.”

On the empty seats in the stadium factoring into his decision:

“Obviously if you don’t win, fans aren’t going to come. I think this is part of our business. As I said earlier, our goal is to put a winning product on the field and we haven’t done that in three years. It is not a good thing when you don’t see the fans in the stands.”

On any limitations on the parameter of searching for a new head coach:

“No, it is open right now. We will have to see as we go through this process how it all unfolds.”

On where Norv and A.J. went wrong in the last three seasons:

“We can sit here and speculate all day long. When you find yourself in this situation it is probably a little bit of everything. Obviously some player personnel decisions as well as coaching. I think Norv would say that himself to you. To me, I’m looking forward. I’m not looking backwards.”

On if he thinks the team should be reconstructed or if the team is close to success:

“I want to get our general manager in place. That is something we are going to talk a lot about. I do personally believe we have a good core group of players on defense. In my mind we have a great quarterback given the opportunity with some better personnel around him. I want to wait until the general manager gets in place first.”

On being optimistic that the team can turn things around very quickly:

“Well yes. To answer your question, yes. I want to turn things around as fast as we can but we have to do it right too. We have to build this team right.”

On why he went with consultant Ron Wolf to help out in the searching process:

“I think he is a very credible individual. He is well respected in the league. He was obviously very successful in Green Bay and I am going to depend on his opinion a lot during this whole process.”

On making this decision weeks ago:

“As I said earlier, I knew at the beginning of the season if we did not get into the playoffs and do something to win some games then I was going to make some changes. If you want a specific time and date, probably when we were 100 percent officially eliminated from the playoffs which would be after the Carolina game.”

On John (Spanos) being part of the search committee:

“He will. It will be John Spanos, Ed McGuire, Ron (Wolf) and myself.”

On what role John Spanos will play in the organization next year and in years to come:

“Well, most of you have heard this before but in some point in time I expect John to step in and take over my position. I’m not ready to retire yet and there is no specific time frame either. This could be three or four years down the line, maybe five. Ultimately he is going to have this responsibility.”

On any specific personality he’s looking for in terms of a general manager:

“Anybody that can win.”

On how many people are on the prospective interview list for each position and if he will disclose names:

“There are seven or eight on each list. That is a fair number I think…I have decided not to disclose names obviously because most of these individuals are on playoff teams right now. As you know, we have to submit consent letters, we have to get approval from the teams. It could be a distraction to these teams if these names got out. Maybe these individuals wouldn’t want their names out so we decided not to give any names out.”

On the potential to hire someone like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher who have not been with a team for a period:

“I would say it is open. Everything is open.”

On if he was ever denied in the past after sending a consent letter:

“I’d have to think about that. That was a long time ago. I don’t think so.”

On any prerequisites for a head coach:

“I don’t think so. It is an open process and that is something we are going to be discussing and I am going to be talking to Ron about.”

On moving fast enough to get his top choice with so many head coaching positions currently available:

“You want to move quickly but you want to make the right decision too. It is going to be very competitive out there. There’s no doubt about it. But you have to start with the general manager. That is key for us, then we will move forward.”

On allowing players to have input in his decision to hire a new head coach:

“To answer your question, no.”

On feeling like this was a lost season:

“No I don’t. I’m disappointed. I made the decision. It is totally my responsibility. If you want to blame anybody, blame me. I believed it was the right thing to do at the time. Obviously it didn’t work out. I’m looking ahead, I’m not looking back.”

On what attributes makes a coach a winner in the NFL:

“I think experience has some part of it obviously. There are certain characteristics that individuals have and you can sense it when you interview them. That is the kind of guy I want to have. It is hard for me to sit there and tell you that until you actually meet the person. You can spot a guy that’s got a lot of confidence in himself and knows what he’s doing. Until you get in there and really talk to these individuals, it is hard to say exactly.”

On the upcoming lease termination at Qualcomm Stadium:


On whether the remainder of the coaching staff have also been terminated:

“No. With the exception of I think two or three coaches, everyone is still under contract and will remain under contract.”

On wanting input in some of the assistant coaches possibly being held over:

“I have always given the head coach the opportunity to put his coaching staff together. That will be entirely up to him.”

On defensive coordinator John Pagano being a candidate for the head coaching job:

“Like I said, it is wide open. We will see.”

On how quickly he wants to narrow it down and if he wants to hire someone before the Super Bowl (the first week in February):

“You would like to. Again, like I said we don’t know what is going to happen in the next few days. We may get denied on all of these consent requests. You won’t know until that happens. It is a changing thing every day.”

On how Norv and A.J. reacted when he spoke to them:

“They were professional in every sense, I can tell you. We are very close personally, having worked with A.J. for 10 years and Norv for six. Like I said it was personally very difficult. They clearly said, ‘I know you have to do what you have to do.’ They were very understanding and very professional. I have a great deal of respect for both of them.”

On speaking to the players:

“I haven’t talked to any players.”


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