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Lovie Stays: The Fall-Out From Halas Hall

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 6, 2010 3:20PM

We're not sure what it costs to run a full-page ad in the Trib or Sun-Times, but apparently it's less than the $11 million balance on Lovie Smith's contract because Bears management decided to retain their beleaguered head coach as they officially announced during a press conference at Halas Hall on Tuesday afternoon. The same coach who led the team to a season poor enough that management felt compelled to apologize to fans in print this week. While Lovie remains as head coach, most of his offensive staff got their walking papers on Tuesday. As widely expected, offensive coordinator Ron Turner was the primary fall guy for the Bears' season. Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton, tight ends coach Rob Boras, assistant o-line coach Luke Butkus and assistant wide receivers coach Charles London also got the ax. Given that the Bears have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons after appearing in Super Bowl XLI, David Haugh was correct to in his assessment that "[t]his wasn't a housecleaning at Halas Hall. This was light dusting."

While Bears GM Jerry Angelo insisted that money wouldn't determine Lovie's fate, clearly it has. Smith has repeatedly retooled his coaching staff to no avail. He made the mistake of chasing Ron Riviera out of town after the Super Bowl. When the defense faltered, he "demoted" defensive coordinator Bob Babich and took over play calling himself. His GM handed him a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, but his offensive staff turned a former Pro Bowler into the second coming of Rex Grossman. Lovie Smith was as responsible as anyone for the Bears' failures.

Even worse than the knowledge that the Bears need a new coach is the fear that ones who might be perfect for the job and available won't be when the McCaskeys, Ted Phillips and Angelo finally realize it's time for a change. Mike Shanahan, a Chicagoan who coached Cutler in Denver, just inked a five-year deal with Washington. Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren are available... but they might not be a year from now. Instead, we'll watch as Lovie Smith rearranges the deck chairs. As mentioned yesterday, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli might be a candidate for the defensive coordinator position, as might former Bills defensive coordinator and interim head coach Perry Fewell seems the more likely candidate. On the other side of the ball, high profile names like Mike Martz and Charlie Weis have been mentioned as possible successors to Ron Turner. Unless they want too much money... then they'll probably just bring back Terry Shea.