Chargers Stay The Course And Sports Media Reacts

With the announcement by Dean Spanos of his intention to keep Chargers GM AJ Smith and head coach Norv Turner, San Diego’s sports airwaves turned from rampant speculation about the future of the Chargers front office and coaching staff to analysis of and even outrage toward the direction of the team in 2012. This news provided much fodder for local sports media outlets as well as national football pundits.

Locally, The Darren Smith Show on XX 1090 seemed to best capitalize on the news of the day, quickly grabbing interviews with current and former Chargers beat writers, face of the franchise and vocal Norv Turner supporter, quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as AJ Smith himself. Credit must also be given to The Drive on XTRA Sports 1360 for landing Smith, while also relying on members of the Chargers broadcast team to add their own thoughts on the decision by Spanos.

It was particularly interesting to hear Smith, in response to a question from The Drive’s Josh Rosenberg, comment on the future of Greg Manusky as Chargers defensive coordinator. According to Smith, that decision “will be of the head football coach.” As was reported Thursday, Manusky was fired, with must people accurately speculating that coach John Pagano would be promoted in his place.

Also on XTRA Sports 1360, hosts Ben Higgins and Chris Ello nabbed the first live, on-air interview with Spanos. In his interview, Spanos stressed the value he placed in Turner’s relationship with Rivers and his ability to run the team’s high-powered offense as factors in his decision.

Fan reaction, captured by calls, texts, and tweets to local sports shows was mixed, although the more passionate responses skewed toward a negative opinion of another year under Turner and Smith.

Nationally, Twitter buzzed with the news of the retention of Turner and Smith.

Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter responded to the move with a quote from former Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer saying, “Ownership has its perks.”

Gregg Rosenthal from NBC Sports responded to comments regarding the strong finish by this Chargers team by tweeting, “Why does the order of losses matter? If Chargers lose six straight later, no way they keep Norv.” And expressing empathy for those disappointed Chargers fans, Greg Bedard from The Boston Globe tweeted, “I feel bad for Chargers fans. They don’t deserve this.”

Fox Sports analyst Troy Aikman, a former student of Turner’s while winning championships as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, shared his approval of Turner’s return, tweeting, “Props to Dean Spanos for making a tough call but the right call.”

No matter your own opinion of another season with Smith and Turner steering the ship that is the San Diego Chargers, it’s apparent that the conflict among fans that was created by this decision was music to the ears of sports talk show programmers and the media.

Around The Dial

-If you watched the end of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, you may have caught ESPN’s Holly Rowe rudely shoving an unidentified fellow journalist out of her way so that she could snag the first interview with winning Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. Apparently, ESPN reporters feel entitled to the first interview with any Bowl Game winning coaches on the field. That, or Holly needs to learn some manners.

-Speaking of the Sugar Bowl, Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons may have provided the quote of the year following his game-winning kick. When asked what he was thinking about before the big kick, Gibbons responded, “Brunette girls. Every time we were struggling at kicking, Coach always tells me to think about girls on a beach or brunette girls. So that’s what we did and we made the kick.” Perhaps sports psychology is in Gibbons’ future.

-ESPN’s January 2 Bowl Championship Series telecasts boasted two high scoring, offensive slugfests, which may have contributed to a ratings boost when compared to last year’s games. The Rose Bowl Presented by VIZIO, won by Oregon 45-38 over Wisconsin, and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, won by Oklahoma State over Stanford by a score of 41-38 in overtime, together averaged a 9.4 overnight rating per The Nielsen Company, a four-percent increase over last year.

-The NFL announced huge ratings for games played in the 2011 regular season. According to the NFL, regular season games in 2011 were viewed by more than 200 million people, and accounted for 23 of the 25 most watched shows on television last year. NBC’s Sunday Night Football was the most-watched primetime show for the second consecutive season, while Monday Night Football on ESPN was cable television’s most-watched program for the sixth consecutive season. If you are wondering how the NFL convinces networks to agree to almost billion-dollar contracts, look no further than the most consistently successful ratings on television.

Did you catch an interesting sports media moment? Email it to me at, and follow me on Twitter: @JSWilliams75

January 6, 2012

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