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Marty Schottenheimer will be the Chargers coach next year.

I mean, really, who else were the Chargers going to get to coach the team? They went 14-2 and then lost a big playoff game. Who was going to be that much better of a coach to put them over that hump?

But notice an interesting point in the third paragraph in Chargers president Dean Spanos’ statement about the decision to keep as coach:

“I have decided that Marty Schottenheimer is the best person to lead the Chargers in the 2007 season.  General Manager A.J. Smith and I agree on this fundamental point.  That is why we are pleased to welcome Marty and his coaching staff back for Marty’s sixth season as head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

“We are all bitterly disappointed how this season ended, but we can’t allow our disappointment to cloud the achievements of our franchise over the past few years.  Only two teams have won more regular season games over the past three years than the Chargers.  We have 24 key players under long-term contracts through at least 2009.  This is a fine young team, with great chemistry, and right now stability is important for this team.  I’m already looking forward to next season.

“That is why we are also offering one-year contract extensions for Coach Schottenheimer’s staff, through 2008.  We also offered a one-year $4.5 million contract extension to Marty, with a team option buy-out of $1 million for the 2008 season.  He decided not to accept this extension, and I respect his decision. 

“Now it is time to put this issue behind us and move forward together.  That is what I told both Marty and A.J. when I met with them this afternoon.  The entire Chargers family will do whatever it takes to bring a championship to San Diego.”

So Schottenheimer’s contract is over after next season. Spanos says here that they offered him another year extension so he doesn’t look like a lame duck toward the end of the season, and so players won’t look and plan beyond Schottenheimer’s tenure. But Marty says, “No, thanks.”

I don’t get that. Why do you think he’d turn that down?

SCOTT LEWIS

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