Enright pleased for former quarterback's new coaching position
Last updated 3/9/2007 at Noon
Fallbrook resident Dick Enright was pleased with the news that Norv Turner, who was one of Enright’s quarterbacks at the University of Oregon, was selected as the new head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
“I think that’s great,” Enright said. “I’m very happy that they hired him.”
Turner was named as the Chargers’ new coach on February 19. Enright thought that the team would select a more defensive-oriented coach. “I didn’t think they would have him,” Enright said.
“I’m glad that he’s back in Southern California. He’s really just a great guy,” Enright said of Turner. “He’s inherited a really good team. Maybe he can put them over the hump.”
The Chargers won their division in 2006 but were defeated in the first round of the playoffs. The firing of Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer has been attributed to a rift between Schottenheimer and Chargers general manager A.J. Smith. “It’s a shame when the team has to suffer,” Enright said.
“I think it’s really terrible when two grown men can’t get along,” Enright said. “I wouldn’t have kept one and not the other.”
Enright believes that Turner can co-exist with Smith. “They wouldn’t have hired him unless they thought Smith could get along with him,” Enright said.
“He’s very businesslike and he’s very fair and he doesn’t have a big ego,” Enright said of Turner. “Evidently he gets along with Smith or he wouldn’t be there.”
Enright had been the coach at Gardena High School before joining the University of Oregon as an assistant coach in 1970. Turner played at Alhambra High School in Martinez before joining the Ducks as a player in 1970. When Enright traveled to Oregon to be interviewed for the assistant coach position, the airline flight stopped in San Francisco. Turner, who was being recruited by the Ducks, boarded the plane, and Enright and Turner conversed during the trip between San Francisco and Eugene.
As the plane approached Eugene, Turner told Enright that they were looking at the school the young quarterback would be attending. “He said, ‘That’s where I’m going to be the next four years,’” Enright said. “He was very personable then, just a neat kid.”
Turner redshirted in 1970, and as a redshirt freshman in 1971 he was third on Oregon’s depth chart behind Dan Fouts and Tom Blanchard. Enright took over as Oregon’s head coach in 1972, and with Blanchard’s graduation Turner became Fouts’ backup. The third-string quarterback that year was June Jones, who started 1998 as the Chargers’ quarterback coach and became the team’s interim head coach for the final ten games that year before taking the head coaching position at the University of Hawaii.
Fouts also ended up in San Diego after being drafted by the Chargers in 1973 and spending 15 years as the Chargers’ quarterback. Turner earned the starting job with the Ducks for 1973, although junior college transfer Herb Singleton saw significant playing time at quarterback. Enright was fired after the 1973 season and joined the Southern California Sun of the World Football League as the team’s offensive line coach, and Turner completed his playing career with the Ducks in 1974.
Enright noted that in addition to Turner’s passion for football, the quarterback also took care of his wheelchair-bound mother, which continued after Turner had become a coach. “He was that way as a player. If you didn’t like Norv Turner, then you didn’t like anybody,” Enright said. “He’s a good guy. He understands what life’s all about.”
Turner began his coaching career in 1975 as a graduate assistant at Oregon. In 1976 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joined the National Football League and selected University of Southern California head coach John McKay as the expansion team’s initial coach. Oregon assistant coach John Robinson replaced McKay at USC and hired Turner as an assistant coach.
Turner remained as a USC assistant coach until 1985, when Robinson, who had become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, hired Turner as the Rams’ receivers coach. The Rams reached the playoffs in four of Turner’s six years as an assistant coach, and Turner was hired as the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator for 1991.
The Cowboys, whose offense ranked last among the 28 NFL teams in 1990, were ninth in that category in 1991 and fourth in 1992 and 1993. The 1992 and 1993 seasons also ended with Super Bowl championships for the Cowboys. “He wasn’t the head coach, but he did a good job there,” Enright said.
The Washington Redskins hired Turner as their head coach in 1994, and he compiled a 49-59-1 record before owner Daniel Snyder fired him with three games remaining in the 2000 season despite a 7-6 record that year.
Turner served as the offensive coordinator for the Chargers in 2001 – ironically under former Oregon State coach Mike Riley. Riley was fired after the 2001 season, and Turner took over the offensive coordinator job for the Miami Dolphins in 2002 and 2003.
Turner took over as the Oakland Raiders’ head coach for 2004 and 2005, compiling 5-11 and 4-12 records before owner Al Davis replaced him. “He wasn’t there very long. And they sure did a lot better than what they did last year,” Enright said.
The Raiders finished 2-14 in 2006 and went without an offensive touchdown in eight of their 16 games.
“I think had he stayed in Oakland, had they given him a free hand, he’d have done fine,” Enright said. “I think he’s done a good job.”
Turner spent 2006 as the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. “He really improved tremendously the 49ers’ offense,” Enright said. “They looked much, much better.”
Turner’s 22 years as a head and assistant coach in the National Football League have led to two Super Bowl wins – or two more Super Bowl wins and one more appearance than the Chargers have in their history.
“He’s been in a lot of playoffs,” Enright said. “Maybe he can get it done.”
Schottenheimer took the Chargers to two division titles in five years. “I liked Marty,” Enright said. “I don’t know him, I met him once, but I just liked the way he operated.”
Enright prefers the college game to professional football. “I haven’t been a Charger fan for many years,” he said.
The last time Enright recalls being a Chargers fan was in 2001, when Turner was the offensive coordinator. Enright said that he would pay more attention to the San Diego team now that Turner is the head coach.
Enright himself was a high school head and assistant coach and an assistant coach in the World Football League and the National Football League as well as a head and assistant coach at Oregon. He also coached Fallbrook Pop Warner when his grandson played in that league.
“The biggest thing in coaching is loyalty. You have to have people who are loyal,” Enright said.
Turner fits that description. “He’s been loyal,” Enright said. “He’s worked hard.”