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Will Chicago Bears Fans Miss Lovie Smith If He Leaves?

Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

Being a head coach of a football team requires certain aspects/traits that many of us simply do not possess.  Besides being a teacher of the game of football, coaches also need to be leaders of men.  Sometimes that includes becoming the male role model for some players, and sometimes it becomes the male disciplinarian for others.  Strength, focus, patience, and work ethic are all quality values that a head coach of a football team needs in his repertoire.  Whether it be in the college ranks or the pros, the demand for the best of the best on both levels (college/pro) is something that is incomparable to any other job.   

This past winter the talk around Chicago was about the possible firing of Bears head coach Lovie Smith and the outrage by many that the organization decided to stay the course and make changes outside the man in charge.  Today with a 11-5 record secured and a first round bye in the playoffs starting this weekend, I wonder if Bears fans attitude and feelings toward Lovie Smith have changed.  The question is not whether Lovie Smith should receive a contract extension, but if he leaves will anyone miss him. 

Here is what is fact:
Lovie Smith's career coaching record is 63-49 with three division championships and one Super Bowl appearance in seven seasons as Chicago Bears head coach.  He is also the second winning-est coach in franchise history since the inception of the Super Bowl only trailing Mike Ditka.  2010 is also the first season in the last three that Lovie Smith has led the Chicago Bears to the postseason, and should be in the running for the NFL's Coach Of The Year Award which he has already won once .  Whether you would like to dismiss this 2010 season as a season where EVERYTHING worked out in Lovie's favor or not, you cannot deny the fact that when all the experts and most Bear fans did not expect much the result is something to be truly celebrated in this city.  
However I have a good feeling that if indeed the Chicago Bears were to lose their opening playoff game on Jan. 16th at Soldier Field, the conversation will take a 180 and we will be discussing the same thing that we discussed this time last year.  If the Bears lose, I truly believe the love that Lovie Smith and the Bears organization have received since clinching their first division title will quickly turn back into the bitterness fans had for the organization from top to bottom.  Is that fair to Lovie Smith and company?  Of course it is not.
Bears fans should be happy that the Chicago Bears gave them exactly what they demanded and something they held against Lovie Smith this past winter as the main reason Lovie should be fired, playoffs.  With the return to post season play should also come more opportunity for Lovie Smith and his coaching staff to find better opportunities elsewhere.  Lovie Smith was asked about that very thing yesterday after the Bears wrapped up their final practice of the bye week.
"I hope so," Smith said when asked if he anticipated any of his assistants generating interest. "When you have success, you want others to reap the benefits from it. Our guys have done a great job. I'm talking about our staff, to a man. Hopefully someone will want to look at someone off our staff. I always trying to promote that an encourage it. And, again, hopefully that happens."
What if Smith himself attempts to do the same thing as Jim Harbaugh is doing right now?  Of course he cannot until his contract with the Chicago Bears ends, but judging from this season and as unexpected the success was there are still people that do not believe that Lovie Smith is the right man for the job.  Fans will point to the practically clean bill of health Lovie Smith's Bears had this 2010 season.   Fans will point to break after break and the only reason why the Bears made it to 11-5 is because the Bears were lucky to catch the teams at the right times.  Fans will say that Lovie Smith did nothing different in 2010 to where it should change anyone's opinion on Lovie Smith as the head coach moving forward.  I find this to be the case with a lot of Chicago Bears fans and almost every single person I discuss it with agrees.  
Did Lovie Smith do anything different in 2010 that made the difference from his previous 7-9 season, I do not believe so.  Lovie Smith has always been a coach that moved around the coaching staff and never stuck to one thing.  In Lovie's seven years as head coach, he has had four (I'm including Lovie Smith calling plays in 2009) different defensive coordinators and three different offensive coordinators.  Was Lovie Smith a different head coach in 2010 compared to 2009, or was it because he brought in three former head coaches to key areas of his team. 

Mike Tice, Mike Martz, and Rod Marinelli should get much more credit for the unexpected success of this past season than Lovie SmithMike Martz brought in a scheme that had much success in the past and adjusted it to the personnel he has now.  Although the sack numbers are not exactly great, Mike Tice took an offensive line and molded it into a consistent piece of the Bears offense through injury and lack of experience.  Rod Marinelli should get credit for adapting his previous success with defensive lines in Tampa Bay and applying it to a line including Julius Peppers on top of molding the Bears defense into one of the better forces in the NFL.   
Lovie Smith did nothing outside bringing in the right guys at the right time, but that does not make him a better head coach.  His success is because of the efforts of others and not himself.  That is why I believe that even with the success of the Chicago Bears in 2010, no one in this city will miss Lovie Smith if he decides to go else where once his contract is expired.  Are we really going to be talking about the reasons why the Bears should have kept Lovie Smith after his contract expires in 2011?  Do you really expect Lovie Smith to be one of the top free agent head coaching prospects if the Bears and Smith choose to part ways?  I do not think so.  Although Lovie Smith's overall resume may be attractive to some, I just do not think he will be attractive to other teams around the NFL.  In the four seasons following a Super Bowl appearance, he is 34-30 with only one division title to his name.  I would be truly shocked if teams got into a bidding war for Lovie Smith, as I am sure many Bear fans would be too.   
Although Lovie Smith has had a good 2010, by no means is he a better head coach as well.  Lovie Smith is still the same head coach as he always has been, and I believe fans will not change their opinion of him as it relates to the Chicago Bears no matter what success this year's Bears team has in the postseason.  Lovie Smith is the new Rex Grossman.  If the Bears win it will not be because of his efforts because is not that what has happened all year long anyway?
The countdown continues till Lovie Smith leaves the Chicago Bears.
He will not be missed
John "Rock" Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
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iowagyrl said:

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Wow, first of all, bringing in good assistant coaching personnel who help you win is what good head coaches do! Individual efforts toward one goal of winnong is the ultimate goal! Lovie Smith doesn't care who gets credit for what, at the end of the day, as long as there's a W for the Bears
Just like bringing in the best talent on the field, bringing in the best assistants does not diminish Lovie as a head coach!

Rock Mamola said:


Let me put it to you this has Lovie Smith improved as a head coach since last season? What should change fans' minds on whether or not he is the right man for the job?

I believe Lovie is still the same coach as he always has been and a season like this should not put him back in the good graces of the same fans that wanted him gone one year ago.


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