I’ve been one who has defended Schottenheimer as a coach who shouldn’t be judged by his 5-13 record in the playoffs.

I still say he’s a coach who has been snake bit more than he’s been out-coached. He has too many players, past and present, who defend his coaching ability.

But how do you defend a coach who wants to hire his brother? You can’t, and Schottenheimer had to know this before he forced team president Dean Spanos into the right decision to fire him.

Wanting to hire his brother, Kurt, would make sense if Schottenheimer wanted to get fired. But then again, maybe the blinders Schottenheimer seems to wear was the reason he didn’t see how it would be perceived outside his football family of relatives and non-relatives.

Schottenheimer is a hard person to know. And if you’re not one of his players or coaches, he’s not really interested in knowing you.

 No one really knows what the split was between Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith, but Smith is a straight-forward man and Schottenheimer isn’t. You know where you stand with Smith.

The split between Smith and Schotteneheimer isn’t as rare in sports as you might think. Across town, Padres general manager Kevin Towers and manager Bruce Bochy were long-time friends who had a falling out over playing veterans and retaining coaches that led to Bochy leaving the Padres for the San Francisco Giants.

Schottenheimer rarely made public appearances, and when he did he looked liked he didn’t want to be there. The next Chargers coach should be somebody who can connect with his community — that will be part of getting a new stadium built in San Diego County — better than Schottenheimer.

 — TOM SHANAHAN

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