Dean Spanos' decision to retain Norv Turner and A.J. Smith wasn't exactly a surprise. There were rumblings following last weekend's defeat of Oakland that Spanos was considering retaining them, with one source on Monday telling me he thought both would be back.
And that's precisely what happened.
Turner had two more years left on a contract that pays him $3 million per, and Smith has three more years left on a deal that pays him $2 million annually. But money was not the consideration here, I was told. Spanos is simply resistant to change, reluctant to make a sweeping overhaul unless he feels he must, and with the Chargers winning four of their last five he believed Turner deserved another chance.
It couldn't have hurt, either, that star quarterback Philip Rivers spoke out in favor of retaining his coach after the Chargers finished the season. Rivers is not only the club's best player; he's the spokesman for the team. And when he defended Turner, he had to make an impression with Spanos.
This doesn't mean that Turner is in the clear. On the contrary, the club missed the playoffs the last two years, and that's a problem. Spanos won't tolerate another 8-8 season, so Turner has been put on alert. My guess is that he either wins the AFC West next season or it's on to another coach.
But at least he has the chance.
A week ago, I never thought that was possible. But Spanos' move is made in the name of continuity, something the Chargers lacked over the years, and he must figure that if it can work for others maybe, just maybe, it can work for him. If you believe in your head coach -- and Spanos is fond of Turner -- then you give him every opportunity to prove you right.
Spanos just gave Turner his last chance.