1. Archive

Chargers coach at head of the class

Marty Schottenheimer's guidance of one of the great turnarounds in league history won him the Associated Press NFL coach of the year award.

Schottenheimer took the Chargers from tailender to division champion, from a 4-12 embarrassment to a 12-5 power. The 61-year-old, who also has worked in Cleveland, Kansas City and Washington, did his best work of an 18{-season head coaching career.

"There is a great sense of satisfaction when you're able to get things going in the right direction," said Schottenheimer, who received 27{ of the 48 votes. "I always pride myself on one thing _ I think I'm a teacher. It's fun to see your players listen and work together to apply the basic philosophies and concepts that are important to success."

San Diego won nine of its last 10 regular-season games _ the loss was in overtime at AFC South champion Indianapolis _ to take the AFC West.

Schottenheimer is the first San Diego coach to win the award. He was trailed by Pittsburgh's Bill Cowher (14{ votes), who led the Steelers to the league's best record, 15-1. Last year's winner, Bill Belichick of New England, got three votes. Atlanta's Jim Mora received two and Carolina's John Fox got one.

PRO BOWL: The Colts' Peyton Manning will start at quarterback for the AFC, and the Eagles' Donovan McNabb will be the NFC's starting signal caller in the Feb. 13 game. Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber are starters on the NFC defense.

BEARS: Ron Turner was hired as offensive coordinator for the second time. Turner, fired as coach at the University of Illinois on Nov. 22, replaces Terry Shea. Turner was the Bears' offensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt from 1993-96.

SAINTS: Coach Jim Haslett was told by team owner Tom Benson that he will return for a sixth season. Haslett's five-year record of 42-38 is second best in team history behind Jim Mora's 93-78 mark. The Saints, however, have missed the playoffs four straight years. This season, New Orleans started 4-8 but won its final four to finish 8-8. Haslett has two years remaining on a five-year contract that pays him an average of $3-million a season.