Bernstein: Just Name Lovie GM, Already

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) You can’t simultaneously hire a real general manager and reaffirm the alpha-dog status of your head coach. Not possible.

Pick one move or the other and follow through completely, so the proper messages are sent both within your organization and around the league.

The Bears faced a defining point for their franchise under new chairman George McCaskey, and responded all too typically – with half-step decisions and mealy-mouthed explanations that perpetuate the nebulous power-structure, political games and personal agendas that have become the Halas Hallmark.

It’s plain stupid to have Lovie Smith helping to hire a supposed GM. If it’s a GM you want, get one. And let him do whatever he wants with the coaches, scouts and players, even if that means launching Smith.

But if you want Clowny McPuppet instead, his power and vision limited by the sitting coach, don’t kid everyone with the fancy title. Make him the Director of Player Personnel that he’d be.

Then, just name Smith GM/Coach, and extend his contract.

To be clear: I am not expressly endorsing this particular option as the best move for the Bears, but it would at least be honest. He’s the most powerful man in the building, so why not have the guts to make it official and wear it?

With Smith already involved in the new hiring decision, just let him take ownership of it. He can bring in a personnel guy he trusts, to handle the nuts and bolts of scouting and drafting. The roster then belongs to Smith – no questions as to whom in the organization any one player is connected, no self-serving leaks about dissenting opinions, no overlapping loyalties from front-office to the field in either direction.

Nobody would be anyone’s “guy,” anymore.

The secondary effect of this move is the improved environment for hiring the best possible offensive coordinator and filling any other open football position. A newly-streamlined, solidified structure makes any job more attractive, with potential candidates less concerned about being purged if the new “GM” has other ideas after next season.

(That’s the dynamic that was in play two years ago, when they had no choice but to hire Mike Martz – the equivalent of the fat chick at the bar after last call.)

For once, come clean. Break from the cloistered, mysterious ways of old family business and provide some valuable, uncharacteristic transparency. Nobody believes that Ted Phillips is acting on his own, not with the new chairman taking power and the long-rumored connection between Smith and elderly matriarch Virginia McCaskey, whom we imagine in a dimly-lit room, issuing whispered, portentous football edicts as she dusts porcelain figurines and pours small cups of hot tea.

Here was a great chance for them to stop being so damn weird about everything, but they can’t help themselves.

It became obvious to anybody listening yesterday that the Chicago Bears belong to Lovie Smith.

Embrace that kind of clarity. Don’t continue to fear it.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Just Name Lovie GM, Already

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of ‚ÄúBoers and Bernstein‚Äù since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.

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  • Noots

    Dan, how dissimilar is this from asking Kurt Warner to come in as QB for the Bears, but telling him ahead of time that there is no competition, Rex is our quarterback?

    Yeah, Warner, or anyone else worth their salt would have to just say no. I fully expect any GM worth his salt would see it similarly here. So, knowing this, and if Lovie is NOT made GM, we can expect the Craig Krenzel or Jonathon Quinn of the available pool of potential GMs to accept the job.

    Hope against hope that the Bears, in blind squirrel fashion, stumble across that good nut.

  • Meatless Meatball

    This whole debacle just proves what we already knew, and what Hub’s been saying for years: this is a top-down problem, and it starts with Ted Phillips. When there is a dearth of leadership from the President and CEO, the rest of the organization becomes dysfunctional. And is there a more dysfunctional franchise in Chicago right now than the Bears?

    I’m not a Lovie hater. Actually, I kind of like him. But if the Bears look awful again next year, I really, sincerely hope that the Bears break with tradition and get rid of Smith midyear, followed by Phillips’s dismissal at the end of the season. Because seriously, Phillips’s crowning achievement was the renovated Soldier Field, and…. yiiieeaaahhhh…

    • Puddin Head

      chicago white sox

  • Crazy Jesse

    I have a love/hate thing going on with the Bears. I can’t stand that they are poorly managed, yet, because they are poorly managed, it’s funner than hell to make fun at and taunt all the Bears fans who think their team has a chance only each season to see it come to a grinding crash mostly because of the management.

    One of the greatest things about moving to The Region in 2006 is that this is the first time I’ve ever had something like The Score to give in-depth news and discussion of local sports. I have never enjoyed the drama of sports more. Glad you guys have been here 20 years!

  • Lil' Bycracke

    Stop talking football! Talk more hockey, PSU Tales O’ Rape, and wishing JoPa is dead soon!

  • Steph M

    The way things have been going, this is my exact sentiment…

  • Big Joe from Kokomo

    What if Lovie would be a good GM?


    There are no more “Lovie guys” like Archuleta, Pace, etc. that he can bring back from Rams days past. They’re all gone.

    And instead of Jerry giving Lovie a 3rd or 4th round pick that Angelo himself would have flubbed anyway, maybe Lovie can actually make a good 1st or 2nd round draft pick (was Forte a Lovie pick a few years back…?).

    • Creighton

      Actually a lot of people have said Lovie had more power than Angelo when it came to the draft following the 2006 season. Pompei wrote stated today that Lovie had to sign off on most of the players. If true that is not a good thing. Brad Biggs has been talking about that for years as well, two of Lovie’s known favorites were Dan Bazuin and Mike Okwo who he insisted on. Either way both men have had their hands deep in the Bears drafting and while Forte was nice pick he doesn’t makup for the rest.

  • Satan

    The word “weird” can never be overused when it comes to this organization…

    It’s like the front office thinks that as long as they keep everything “mysterious”, they’ll always look like they’re one step ahead of everyone… like they’re the smartest guys in the room… instead the whole act has become laughably pathetic and somewhat creepy all at once.

    • Sexual Chocolate

      Satan, as soon as I saw the word “weird” in Bernsie’s article, I was thinking the same damn thing.

    • EK

      I like to think of Ted Phillips as Wormtongue, whispering to Virginia McCaskey’s Théoden.

      But who would be Saruman in this scenario (Ted Phillip’s real master)?

      • el yaqui

        Michael McCaskey

  • echoplex89

    just a very bad ownership group that understands nothing about the buisness. they don’t deserved to be in the same sentence with the likes of other groups like the rooney’s who actually understand the NFL.

    • Perry White

      Be sure to pay your apostro fee.

  • Blood is Thick

    “Family” isn’t always such a good thing.

  • billhue

    “Nobody believes that Ted Phillips is acting on his own, not with the new chairman taking power and the long-rumored connection between Smith and elderly matriarch Virginia McCaskey, whom we imagine in a dimly-lit room, issuing whispered, portentous football edicts as she dusts porcelain figurines and pours small cups of hot tea.”

    What a perfect encapsulation of the Chicago Bears Organizational Chart! Cheers!


    The McCaskeys are acting like an old family on Columbo. And the body they’re hiding is the Bears offense. A ruffled George begins his utterances. . . .
    “Shush, now, George, no one needs to know the family business, let alone this slob of a snoop.” Lovie just stands beside the rocking chair with a stoic stair aimed at our raincoated police lieutenant.
    “One more thing, ma’am. . . .”

    Why did they fire Dikc Juron? This was a great article, Dan. One, no one involved in the de-fanged Devon Hester should be involved in managing decisions. And, two, no one involved in a, virtual, sweep by the AFC west belongs in management decisions.

  • Sexual Chocolate

    This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

    There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

    Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

    Just change the names from Virginia, George, Ted and Lovie to Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody and you have the working dynamics of the Bears:

    Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.

    Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

    It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done

  • Hub's lost earring and 'stache

    2012 season….recipe for a disaster. The vision of Uncle Ted, Lovie, and Virginia enjoying an afternoon tea should be a skit on the Score.


      Steve Dahl is way ahead of you H.l.e.& ‘s.

      His weekly serial will need a new name, because it was called “Angelo’s Ashes.”
      He also has Faux ‘hawks.

      Nice one, Sexual Chocolate!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Lovie is already spread too thin as HC/De facto DC.
    The HC/GM combo rarely, rarely works.
    Bring in a scouting draft guru like they did in Atlanta a few years ago.

  • Jack

    Dan – Most GM’s would love to get a coach already in place. As you know a GM’s tenor doesn’t start until he hires his first head coach. So it gives him a year or two to rebuild the ground work of the team and if Lovie fails gives him the old not my coach….

    • Larry

      But his baritone starts right away.

  • shhhhh

    Big Z going to the Marlins.

    • Denver Deadite

      Which means we’re still getting to unwrap Christmas presents thought lost!

      • Johnny Horsehide

        Carlos says he’s excited about having a new time zone to apologize in.


    Just send lovie back to the peewee league. He might learn something. He is not a big league coach.

  • Beef_with_Hot

    Hmmm … I have an urge to listen to Phil Collins’ “True Colors” right about now.

  • Lonnie

    we all get canned because someone believes the nx guy will be better . since Smith wasn’t liable for selecting the backup talent and his record is good enough (considering the talentent dearth ) you could do worse with most guys available to coach . so we come back to the question how long will fans suffer with offensive ineptitude before they stop spending good $ on trash ?

  • Satan

    Two years ago, after Cutler’s first Bears season, I wanted Lovie gone, but I’m glad that he’s managed to survive the bloodshed this week (at least so far).

    For whatever he may lack in tactics, he makes up for it by getting the most out of the talent he has to work with, and it seems like everyone who’s ever played for him would run through a brick wall for the guy. You can’t understate the value in that.

    That said, no matter who the new GM is, I think the Bears will have to win at least one playoff game next season for Lovie to keep this job.

  • Denver Deadite

    McKenzie is on his way to the Packers, a move nobody thought would happen since McKenzie wanted to stay in the Green Bay area.

    Which means the longer the Bears wait, the less likely they’ll get a good candidate.

    Typical Bears.

  • stomachpickle

    Well at least the bears will have a good 2013 draft pick ,new hc and gm after love and Tim Ruskell will be removed.

    4-12 not bad right ?

  • vetdana

    I feel sorry for next years season ticket holders .

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