SAN DIEGO — Chargers president Dean Spanos has decided to fire head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith at the end of the season, the U-T San Diego reported on its website Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
However, the team responded quickly with a statement from Spanos that called the report “pure speculation.”
The firing of Turner has been considered by many to be a foregone conclusion, with the team’s record slipping to 4-8. The U-T reported that Spanos, whose family owns the team, decided to fire Turner last month and recently determined that Smith had to go as well.
The decision comes amid declining fan support that has resulted in the last two home games being blacked out on Southern California televisions thanks to low ticket sales.
It was also reported that the team’s director of player personnel, 17- year Chargers employee Jimmy Raye, is most likely to succeed Smith and be assisted by Spanos’ son, John, the club’s director of college scouting.
In his statement, Dean Spanos said, “There is only one person in this organization who will make those decisions and that’s me, and I haven’t shared my thoughts with anyone. I will make my evaluations at the end of the season. Anything coming out now — from sources or otherwise — is pure speculation.”
Turner has been criticized by some as an uninspiring head coach despite his reputation as a great offensive coordinator. Smith has come under fire for running off talented veterans and for recent lackluster draft classes.
The Chargers started the season by winning three of their first four games, but have emerged victorious only once since the end of September. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been hampered by a makeshift offensive line and a series of poorly timed mistakes have allowed opponents to come from behind in the fourth quarter of several contests.
The U-T San Diego columnist Kevin Acee, who first reported the end of season firings Thursday, made claims last year that Norv Turner was about to be fired and AJ Smith was likely to be let go as well. The 2011 report ended up being false. In both reports, Acee’s sources were anonymous.