SAN DIEGO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The San Diego Chargers announced Tuesday that oft-criticized Head Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith will be back next season.
Dean Spanos, president and chairman of the team, said in a written statement despite two consecutive seasons in which the talented Chargers failed to make the playoffs, the current brain trust provided "the best chance" to take the Bolts to the next level.
"Bottom line, I believe these two men give us the best chance to get back to the playoffs," Spanos said. "A.J. Smith is the best man to improve our roster, and Norv Turner is the best man to lead that roster on the field."
Spanos said Turner and Smith provided a level of experience that would be difficult to replaces and noted Turner was liked and respected by the Chargers players.
Turner and Smith were widely expected by the media and San Diego fans to be fired for an 8-8 season in which they failed to win an AFC West that is considered weak. The season started well but hit a rash of injuries, many on the offensive line, and a six-game losing streak that buried them in the standings. The team, however, rallied to win four of their final five games.
"When we went through that tough stretch, no one quit," Spanos said. "The team kept playing hard, and that's a tribute to Norv's leadership and the respect the players have for him."
Turner is 53-34 as head coach of the Chargers. The team won 88 games and five AFC West championships in Smith's nine years as GM.