Bernstein: If Lovie’s Extended, What’s The Reaction?

By Dan Bernstein–

In a normal situation, it would be completely reasonable and understandable.

An NFL head coach is heading into the final year of his contract, fresh off a surprising 11-5 season that culminated in the conference championship game. His seven-year tenure has included three playoff appearances and a conference title. His record is 63-49.

To many, an extension of his deal would seem obvious – simply, a team doing proper business as any other would.

But this is not a normal situation.

CSNChicago’s John Mullin reported recently that the Bears are preparing to tack on more years to Lovie Smith’s contract. He will not receive a big raise, but the money is not really even the issue.

I’m preparing for a general acceptance of the extension, but with most of the conversation dominated by those expressing outrage.

Smith has the same share of raving, unhinged detractors as any of his brethren. Part of the job, of course, is knowing that a certain percentage of the fanbase will always be clamoring for your dismissal, often with no regard for the results. They will find bizarre ways to deny your responsibility for any success as they lay every failure at your feet.

What he seems to lack, however, are vocal, ardent supporters.

Even those of us who feel Smith is a good coach are quick to say he’s not a great coach. That’s why arguments about him fail to polarize like so many others. The aging Ditkaphiles scream and slobber for a coach who looks and sounds like their own projected emotions and desires, while level heads push back, but not hard enough to insist that Smith is something more than he has proven to be.

He won’t play politics with the fans. He has never had the desire to curry favor outside of letting winning do the talking for him. That trait costs him in a case like this, when so few will celebrate the continuation of his job, even if many agree he’s done pretty well.

He makes life easy for the folks at Halas Hall, for the most part. His teams are good enough, everyone stays on message (which is almost always some paint-by-numbers combo of “Nobody outside this locker room understands us,” “We have to prove [you media] doubters wrong,” or “We have been through so much adversity, and it brings us together), and veteran stars appear to respect him.

Though more teams have allowed a coach to reach his walk-year than in the past, there is always concern – especially in a large media market – that the games becomes weekly referenda on his employment. Each Sunday’s grand spectacle is a judgment of the coach’s future, and teams don’t want that. Looks like the Bears sure don’t.

Smith is not great. His in-game calls are questionable, his refusal to ever provide any real information about his team is maddening, and his defensive scheme may be falling prey to offensive evolution, not to mention the accurate passing of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.

But if one is something other than those in the thick-browed “Fire Lovie” Billboard Brigade, news of an extension is…fine.

I guess.

With no specific alternative presented, and no insane, undeserved raise awarded, it’s a case of a decent coach being asked to continue being one for a fair amount of money.

Not exactly the kind of thing that sets off fireworks.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: If Lovies Extended, Whats The Reaction?

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I love the “Ditkaphiles” word that you coined!!!
    LOL, that really captures it.

    I’m not outraged but I don’t think that was necessary.
    I would have waited for the end of the 2011 season…let’ see Lovie coach a team to a strong record two years in a row.

    • Peter (in Rogers Park)

      Antonyms: “misditkanist” and “anitditkaphile” (both are similar to but not entirely synonymous with “danophile”).

      • Bob Loblaw

        Antonym: “Ditkaclast” or “Ditkaphobes”

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Bob, would they commonly be called “Soy-balls”?

  • The Score Chimp

    This would be terrible if Lovie is extended. There is no reason at all to give Lovie more years. Missing the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years is not acceptable in a major market like Chicago. Oh wait, we have the 3 Stooges running the Bears. All common sense does not apply.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Amen to your “Three Stooges” comment.
      I see it as JA ratifying his own accomplishments…sort of, “I am doing such a great job as GM that we can extend this excellent Coach we have…”.

  • dana

    Missing the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 years is not even “mediocrity “in a major market like Chicago. The ” Three Horsemen of the Apocolypse ” are satisfied with the status quo and afraid to upset the applecart with the current CBA up in the air.If we do have a season next year…dont get your hopes up for a playoff run.

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      Yeah, I think if there’s one thing that keeps rational, objective fans (and I like to think of myself as such) from jumping on the Lovie bandwagon it’s the inconsistency. Lovie has had three very good seasons but after showing promise with 11-5 and 13-3 seasons in ’05 and ’06 he promptly plummeted to mediocrity with 7-9, 9-7 and 7-9 seasons. I think missing the playoffs the year after a Super Bowl berth particularly stung. Right or wrong, fans expect arcs to their franchise’s successes and failures… You slowly improve, maximize your opportunities when you have a championship window, and then decline while you stock up for another cycle. Lovie’s arc doesn’t have any familiarity to it, and it’s that unfamiliarity that for me, at least, constantly gives me pause when I’m ready to declare him a great coach.

      • Spoon

        I guess the question I end up with, is what does extending him now vs waiting matter. We know who Lovie is, and we know what he’s good and bad at. Or rather, the Bears do. If we’re giving him equal money and an extension of years, as I understand it, I dont see the difference in when we extend him. If he goes 6-10 next year, does that change our mind about what we already know? Similarly, if he goes 12-4 next year, do we change our mind then? I feel as though, everyone that’s a fan or a member of the Bears brass, already know what he is.

        Kinda rambling, hope that made sense… cold medicine is fun!!!

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Spoon, I think my initial comment was less an indictment of Lovie and more a reflection of the inability to really understand a coach’s value. You’re absolutely right that you can count the “great” coaches on one hand (and even then, is it really the coaches or were they blessed with great rosters?). But if there’s no real way to evaluate the blob of “good” coaches, then what’s the justification for paying ours more? I guess ultimately, my point about the lack of a familiar arc was my convoluted way of saying I–a football idiot sitting on my couch–lack the information necessary to have any real idea of how good a coach he is. With that in mind, I can’t declare him a bad coach but I also can’t declare him a good one.

      • Denver Deadite

        I said it weeks ago: my biggest concern after this surprising season is that we’ll have several years again of mediocrity or worse. And with Lovie, I expect more mediocrity than success.

      • bronzo

        I think we’re all in agreement here. Lovie is a decent coach. Don’t really hate him but are not crazy about him either. I agree the Bears should have or should wait until the 2011 season plays out..

        This past season the stars certainly alligned for him and the Bears. They made in to the NFC championship game which at the least buiys him one more season…why rush into an extension.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        You nailed it.
        The truly great HC’s were relentlessly consistent…I think that Don Shula had one losing season in his entire career. Belichick with the Pats, Tony Dungy, Chuck Noll and The Chin with Pittsburgh etc. have been 10+ wins relentlessly consistent.
        Even Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcels have been relentlessly consistent absent a really bad year here and there at the start of an arc.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Hope you feel better asap Spoon.
        You make great sense despite being hopped-up on cold meds.

      • Spoon

        How many coaches in today’s NFL actually match that concept though? It seems that the days of slowly building a powerhouse are becoming nostalgia over reality. Sure we have the Pats, maybe the Steelers, but it seems for 90% of teams, it’s roll the dice each season. While I agree that Lovie is simply a good coach, are we holding him to a standard that is only matched by 2-3 coaches in the league today, and if so, who would we replace him with? Since those 2-3 coaches arent going anywhere anytime soon.

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  • Michael Che

    Having Lovie around for a couple more years maybe isn’t too bad an idea, but having Angelo as well will hardly add up to greatness. (Reverse or keep the order according to your personal taste.)

  • Rick

    I don’t like Lovie but with this collection of stiffs he did one helluva of a job this past season. Do you think the Packers would have even made the playoffs with that O-line? I do share major frustrations with his sideline decisions and basically want to slap him along side his head during press conferences. I really don’t understand why anyone interviews him, he never says ANYTHING! Please replace the GM and CEO. I’d only give Lovie a 1 yr extension with an option year. I don’t want every week to be about whether or not he is getting a new contract..

    • Ditka's Nosehair

      Thanks for airing my thoughts like yours. I wish the Bears could get some #1 Players to catch the ball. I guess as long as the current owners have them, that seems not likely to happen anytime soon.

    • AT3374

      I agree but the Packers also lost 15 starters from their team , and still managed to win . If the Bears had not been so healthy this year , no way Lovie coaches them to a decent season . Let him play out this upcoming season and see if he can do it again ( doubt it ) and go from there

      • Spoon

        “I agree but the Packers also lost 15 starters from their team , and still managed to win ”

        I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say this. While I find it impressive they managed to plug in non starters and roll right along. Some of those non-starters actually outplayed the starters they replaced. You could say it’s amazing that they soldiered through the injuries. You could also point out that the coaching staff’s self scouting of their players was horrible. Some of those back ups shoulda been starting over the starters, but as they say, winning covers all.

  • bigtime sucker

    yeah rick i like your idea

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Hard for me to care about Lovie at this particular moment with two top players moving from the West to the East in the NBA now that Deron’s apparently a Net according to Yahoo.

    • Harry's Phlegm

      That’s a big “WOW!” The NBA is headed for a huge CBA showdown because they can’t afford to only have 5-7 star-laden teams. This is more fuel for my ever-increasing hatred of the NBA.

      • Likquid Swordz

        I agree the upcoming CBA battle is going to be epic. If your strong teams are only going to reside in major markets under the current deal, then you are going to seriously have to look at contraction when it expires because the product in Memphis, Sacramento (Anaheim), Oklahoma City, New Orleans, and Orlando will suffer and fans will not come out to see those teams

    • bigtime sucker

      ok, the nets are hardly a threat this year, this affects the league going forward though. Williams and lopez, not bad. I have been checking stats, and if we have to mortgage our draft picks to get a 2, i vote on Nick young 1, oj mayo 2 and really that’s it. Jon from Montgomery, what can C. Lee do that the 2 guard by committee can’t? He doesn’t get to the line, he averages less than 2 three attempts per game so his 44% shooting from there doesn’t impress me, he only plays 18 mins a game, sure he d’s up but so do brewer and bogans. Nick Young shoots 39% from 3 get’s off 4 attempts per game. get’s to the line 4 times, is long, his d is suspect though. Mayo isn’t having a good year but his career stats are ok but he needs a lot of attempts to produce, actually same with young. there really isn’t an option that is effecient out there.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        I was all about Mayo a couple of months ago, but now I’m kind of sour on it. It depends on what the price is now. Before I was all about trading Taj for a wing player that can occasionally get into a light-it-up groove, but after what we’ve seen with the current Bulls, I don’t want to part with him anymore. Based on keeping the rotation intact, there’s really not much flexibility. Plus, you come out of the trade deadline adding one of the best centers in the NBA- not even the Knicks can say they added as much.

        Given that Booz and Noah will have played far fewer minutes this season entering the playoffs, I’m not just hoping- I’m flippin’ giddy.

  • Harry's Phlegm

    Count me in as a “meh”. But one thing to remember for management is that if Calvin Johnson’s “catch” wasn’t overruled, the Bears would not have made the playoffs (all other results being the same). Players DO seem to like him because he has their backs but I think he’s clueless in talent evaluation.

    I wouldn’t doubt if Tice becomes their next coach if Lovie falters. It will satisfy the Ditka lovers and be OK with the more rational fans.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    The Bears were in the NFC Championship.
    The Bulls are becoming scary good.
    The Blackhawks just won the cup (despite looking like they’re doing cup-sized chugs of grain alcohol before games this season)
    The Sox look extremely promising.
    The Cubs don’t look… awful.

    When was the last time that every single major-sport pro team in Chicago was either successful … or had a guarded optimism… all at the same time?

    By the way, I don’t necessarily say this as praise… because technically it could be an indictment of Chicago sports team management the last 50 years…

  • Likquid Swordz

    I am not a fan of the extension mainly because of the inconsistency, as others on this blog have said. Sitting at home the 3 years after the Super Bowl appearance doesn’t sit well with me, and the 11 wins this past season came at the expense of a bad TD call in the first game, and beating the powerhouses of Buffalo, Miami, and Carolina, but still losing to Washington and Seattle AT HOME. Yes the OL was atrocious, but so was some playcalling. I think the Bears need to hold off on the extension until after next season, or close to the end of it.

    • Jay's Insulin Pump

      Good points made there. Can’t leave out the poor clock/timeout management, and the terrible judgment calls made with challenges. Mishandling the Cedric Benson experiment, Devin Hester pulled from returns at the top of his game to become the world’s worst receiver (see any game where he’s running down the sideline wide open and the ball bounces off his shoulder pad).

      Things that are so obvious to everyone else, seem to take Lovie weeks to figure out. He has reached his ceiling, time to find someone who can take us higher.

    • AT3374

      Add to that the terrible 3 and 1 play verses the Pack , where Lovie calls a time out when all they had to do is fall forward , then you come back and run a REVERSE with a guy just off the injury list !!!!

      Let him do it again I say

  • Jay's Insulin Pump

    The title of the article should be “When Lovie’s Extended, They’re Going To Do The Same Old Thing”. For a long while now, that’s the way it’s been.

    The Bears need to make changes to their team. I don’t know if I can handle another year of press conferences where Lovie, Martz, and Jerry pretend that the team is flawless. God, that really got to me last season. We all know the problems, no need to tell the world that our receivers are all possible #1’s and our O-line is “really coming together”. Lying sacks of sh!t.

    Anyone else thinking they may not actually get Cutler killed, but are doing less than nothing to prevent constant head trauma? This Duerson thing really has me feeling horrible. And it seems like they’re ignoring it.


    I don’t think it’s really necessary for the Chicago Bears to extend head coach Lovie Smit’h’s contract considering this team’s recent history. If I were running the Bears right now, I’d let Lovie play out the final year of his current contract and see what develops. If the Bears get off to another fast start this fall, pending if the NFL settles the tabs on a new collective bargaining agreeement, then I would consider an extension for the third winningest head coach in Bears’ team history. He did a great job this past season getting the Bears to the NFC Championship game, but extending Lovie now would not be smart.

    On another sports note, Deron Williams is now a New Jersey Net as a result of a three way-deal involving the Utah Jazz & Golden State Warriors. Deron was supposedly on the New York Knicks’ wish list now that Carmelo Anthony is in the fold in midtown Manhattan. While the Knicks & Nets appear to have started quite the off-court drama, I heard WIP SportsRadio’s Howard “Rumorville” Eskin on “The Dan Patrick Show” today mention the name Chris Paul, currently with the New Orleans Hornets, as a possible target now to join ‘Melo & Amare Stoudemire with the Knicks. Stay tuned.

    • AT3374

      Are you kidding about Deron Williams ? Wow …that does nothing for me . I thought we was going to the Knicks next year , yikes .

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I’m fairly sure now that Jerry Sloan won’t be joining the coaching staff of the New Jersey Nyets.

  • Jon, Montgomery

    deron Williams was completely shocked by this trade. he said he had no idea this was happening. totally blindsided

    so it doesn’t mean deron will stay with the nets. he’ll still walk in FA. unless poko can sell deron on staying, something he couldn’t sell Carmelo or lebron.

    and this isn’t going to put the nets in the playoffs. so basically a ‘nothing’ move right now.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Thanks Jon…..unless the Knicks come a-callin’ I can see him staying with the Nyets to take the many Rubles in a high-profile city (I admit that the Nyets are the Clippers of NYC).

    • AT3374

      Wow , that totally stinks but that’s business I guess . Still that really stinks for him until he goes to Miami or New York

      • Likquid Swordz

        SLC isnt THAT bad. Its a nice clean city/area, but not the place a 20-something year old millionaire would crave to stay in.

        Though I’ve never been to Green Bay, I can imagine there’s a bait & tackle shop on every corner like a Starbucks is on every corner in Seattle

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Gotta assume he was to flee SLC when he became a FA anyway.
        SLC is sorta the Green Bay of the NBA, the city no player wants to go to.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        You know it, Swordz:

    • bigtime sucker

      i think people are so unsure what the team moving to brooklyn will be like. Brooklyn hasn’t supported a franchise since the dodgers so it’s a big unknown, and there has got to be something about this owner(who is tag teaming with Jay Z of all people) that is turning people off, i mean he has met with everyone and everyone says glowing things about him and then goes somewhere else, including boozer. I guess we are still in, can’t trust a russian mode or something. but people in champaign should be happy, they get to see their 05 hero more than once a season now. i am willing to bet you that williams moving will be right behind the illini getting crushed last night, featuring the ole we got to try harder lines from mike davis and tisdale story on wcia sports tonight.


    Isiah Thomas may be sticking his nose in the Knicks’ business again, and Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has a doozy of what appears to be a classic power struggle between Knicks’ bossman James Dolan & current team president Donnie Walsh. Feast your eyes on the following link:

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Anyone else notice that the Bulls ascended to the #1 slot in the NBA Power rankings on Fox Sports? Realclearsports does poll averages, and they’re currently top 5 in all major media rankings, but #1 on Fox, and #3 on Stein’s ESPN rankings- but the top team in the East.

    • bigtime sucker

      means nothing, they need to capture home court and that will be hard with miami playing as well as they are

      • AT3374

        Right on all counts, they REALLY don’t want to see Boston or Miami early . And forget that EPIC series against the Celts a few years back , if Garnett was not hurt thats 4 games to the Celts so people need to get over that . But I’m really excited about the Bulls and hope for the best when they lace em up against these teams .

        Man the NBA is getting Fantastic again


    The Bulls have 2 meetings in the next 2 weeks with the Heat. First, they host what is likely a much more formidable Miami team with LeBron James in the lineup tomorrow night on the Bulls’ favorite national cable channel TNT at 7p from United Center. It will be a far cry from the thrilling Bulls’ win minus LeBron back in December when Kyle Korver’s trey won the game at the end. The Bulls will then head to AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami for a rare game on ABC Sunday, March 6th at 12Noon. I think we’ll get a much better idea where the Bulls really stack up vs. Benedict LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a Heat team that’s actually been a flop vs. the top teams in the NBA record-wise to this point.

    • AT3374

      Yep , great points . Should be two monster games for the Bulls . I looking to see if the great defender Loul can guard Le Bron like I keep hearing these commentators talk about .

  • bigtime sucker

    that will be an interesting game to say the least, Noah will be in better shape for the second game, we will really need to honker down and defend though, they are a tough cover

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      I think with Noah back, Da Boo is THE team that other teams won’t want to meet in the playoffs.

      • Likquid Swordz

        I’d feel more comfortable if there were better options/better play from the 2 guard position. I just hope Joakim is 100% healthy and not just 80%

      • bigtime sucker

        you know the more i think about it, the more the 2 guard is being phased out. think about it, you have bryant, wade, joe johnson, ray allen, and who? jason richardson? vince carter? stephen jackson? maybe, maybe grainger. All the other decent 2’s are just converted 1’s like montae ellis, or eric gordon, all the rest are journeymen, some better than others but none that really stand out. the 90’s and early 00’s was the era of the 2 guard, now is the era of the 1 guard. a good 2 is a commodity that really isn’t available

    • AT3374

      Agree with that BTS , the might Bulls are playing great defense and the offense has a nice mixture of low post and jump shooting and we finally have a real coach . If they can get Lee or Mayo on the cheap , even better .

      Come on Garpax git er dunnnnnnnnnn !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    I can’t decide if I liked the wishiness or the washiness of this piece better (and you better believe it was intentional).

    The best reasons given for retaining/extending Lovie were, in my understanding, that:

    1. there’s no guarantee that the Bears can attract someone better (but no question that better coaches exist).
    2. game-to-game debate on his future would be a distraction (the logical progression of that policy would be to make him coach for life).
    3. a large contingent of morons dislike him (so he must be in the right camp in Dan Bernstein’s GWoM).

    This is coming from a commentator who insists that anything short of winning a championship in pro sports is un-graded failure. Why then is he using his forum to try to convince himself that extending the contract of a coach who’s tenure has been mediocre on balance, who hasn’t demonstrated any sustained positive trend in performance, and who certainly hasn’t won any championships is fine (the wishiness)? Not sure, but he does make clear that he is preserving his option to hate Smith at a later date (the washiness).

    • bigtime sucker

      i think the bears are in NFL hell. You have a coach who hasn’t monumentally failed coaching an aging roster built to his specifications with what i believe is a large pot of guarenteed money still being deferred, so what can you do? you can’t hire a new coach unless that coach runs the same system that lovie does, it’s cheaper to just pay lovie. We are just kinda stuck with him, like it or not. I don’t know when we can overhaul the roster to suit another coach’s philsophy’s, so i don’t know what else to do, do you? what’s your solution, and include a roster and coach solution

  • Remington Steele

    People in this town don’t like any coach that doesn’t look and rant like Ditka. Chicago is a bit market town with a small-minded populace. Woefully stuck in the past and not sure of what they really want so long it’s not someone that looks like Lovie. I applaud Chicago as being consistent though, but that’s the worse compliment you can give a city that is stuck in time.


    Lovie, has pulled the wool over our lying eyes for long enough!
    It’s time for Virginia, to drop the crochet needles and hold her protected son
    accountable: If your going to extend his contract, incentivize the structure
    of the offer which pays less with larger incentives for earned accomplishments.
    If he wants to stand pat playing his usual role of a deer in headlights, listening to
    SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS, over the headset let him ! Where is he going?
    Yesterday’s news is todays garbage!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      1. I’m virtually certain that Virginia is no longer allowed to have crochet needles because they are sharp objects.
      2. Sunshine on his shoulders makes Lovie happy.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Say, anyone in the West Loop with an urgent compulsion to purchase cheap sh!t from China can go to the Wal-Mart planned for Presidential Towers.


      Target and Wal Mart seem to be stores that cannot survive Amazon (a business, started in a garage. Their plan? Uh, let’s sell EVERYTHING on the computer!
      Targets are too crowded, and they show that they are afraid of Dollar General by having that junk right by the front door. They’re not bad, but they are not distinct.
      I average about one trip a year to a Wal Mart (Sam’s is another story).

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    From the No Sh!t Sherlock File:
    the NCAA ruled that Bruce Pearl was unethical.

    • Likquid Swordz

      NCAA is portugese for “nyuk nyuk nyuk”

  • puddin' head

    i hope for lovie to get an extension (contract) extension hope he sticks around for quite some time just because he seems to p.o. most sport types and their opinion really has no bearing on the situation kinda fun to hear the complaining

  • AT3374

    Bulls and Comacst just added Scottie to the broadcast booth . I like Scottie as a player but when it comes to broadcasting ….not so much . Stacie is holding it down as an analyst but who knows it might work out

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Less than meh for me.
      Great player, big name, boooooring broadcaster.

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