Monday, November 30, 2009

The Winds of Change, Perhaps?

Who's got next?This page has long held the opinion that Lovie Smith is a good coach when it comes to motivating his players and getting the most out of their performances. These good skills have been nearly offset by his stubbornness to adapt his game plans to the talent he has available to him. Additionally, he has shown time and again that he is a poor tactician when it comes to adjusting his game plan once a game has started.

None of those will be the reasons Lovie stays or gets fired after the 2009 season. As with nearly everything, especially with the McCaskey's, it all will come down to money.

Yes, Lovie Smith is owed $10 million more dollars through 2011. And his coaching staff is probably due another $5 million combined on top of that. Furthermore, there is really no reason to unload Lovie unless you completely clean house and remove Jerry Angelo, the architect of this house (which is in need of foreclosure). That means another $5 million or more.

So, to start the process of fixing the Bears, it's going to cost well over $20 million or more. They'll never do it, right?

Most likely not. But don't be too sure.

The question the McCaskey's have to weigh is if retaining this regime will cost them more money than firing them and replacing them. There is certainly a probability that the cost to retain is greater than the cost to fire.

First, as mentioned previously, this team has $40 million invested in Jay Cutler. If Lovie can't get value out of that $40 million, a team could see that there's money to be saved by finding someone who can get that value out. And, beyond Cutler, there's value in the rest of the roster. Can value be generated out of Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Lance Briggs or will this regime simply burn their salaries and talent in the fires of wasted seasons?

And then there is the question of franchise value. What does a disgusted fan base do to the value of the franchise in a sale. Make no doubt about it, the Bears will eb the next team sold in Chicago, and that day comes not long after Virginia McCaskey decides she prefers a harp and a halo to a sky box.

The Bears have a lot of family members that own stock who want to monetize that stock. What's better for the value? Lovie Smith, Jerry Angelo and rapidly de-evolving quarterback or Bill Cowher?

It was no accident that Hub Arkush let slip last week that the Bears have reached out to Cowher. The McCaskey family floated a trial balloon to see what fan reaction would be. Word on the street was that the fans were pretty receptive to the idea.

The McCaskey's are going to do what they need to do to protect the value of their investment. Unlike nearly every other owner, this is all they have. If they deem that firing Lovie will improve their value, the regime will be dumped very quickly after this season ends.

The only remaining question is: Can the final 5 games of the 2009 season influence that decision.

Well, back in 2006, with another team up for sale, waning fan interest and empty seats resulted in the spending of a few hundred million dollars on Lou Piniella, Alfonso Soriano, and Ted Lilly.

The telltale for the 2009 Chicago Bears will be the same. Watch for empty seats.

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