This is Angelo's coach. This is the guy selected to lead the league's most historic franchise. The Bear players, however, are younger than just about any team in the NFL. Smith is tasked with bringing the Bears back to respectability, an honor they haven't held in earnest in more than a decade. The selection of assistant coaches is now underway.
Jerry Angelo clearly led with his chin in his pursuit of LSU's Nick Saban. When Angelo returned to Chicago with a porterhouse covering his eye, Bear fans everywhere felt like they were ensnarled in a recurring Greek tragedy.
Negotiations with Saban, a supposed Angelo friend of many years, turned out to be more big than easy. The pressure falls firmly back to Angelo after he named Smith his coach. While many people chose to draw comparisons to Jauron and Smith, the greatest difference between the two has very little to do with them at all. The fact that Angelo hired Smith is a major factor and the significance cannot be emphasized enough. This is the reason why so much whining and yelping of pain was made in the Bears' media when Smith was hired. Bears rumor mongers, crap stirrers, and conspiracy theorists have all been neutered by this move. No longer can countless columns focusing on the alleged in fighting between Angelo and Jauron grace the pages of local sports pages. With the Bears in great shape against the salary cap, expect Jerry Angelo to make several big moves to bring difference makers to Smith's Bears.
Jerry Angelo's boldest play until now was getting rid of Cade McNown, in spite of the cap ramifications it meant. This move is exponentially bolder. Dick Jauron and his coaching staff served as a convenient buffer for Angelo. How else can someone explain the lack of production of Brian Urlacher and David Terrell? What about Kordell Stewart? It's amazing how Stewart's failures were easily the fault of John Shoop, yet the successes of rookie Rex Grossman were pointed in every other direction. From this point on, the successes and failures of the players, team and coaches will run a clean and direct path back to Angelo. He has put himself firmly in the crosshairs now.
Angelo declared the Bears a playoff team last year, even after dealing away their best interior defensive lineman (Ted Washington), and not retaining their best pass rusher (Rosevelt Colvin). The majority of the starting personnel are under contract for several years, so the decree assuredly has legs.
Lovie Smith is in the enviable position of being the new coach of the Bears. It is indeed enviable, because he has the full support of the Bears' managerial hierarchy. He was selected a bit earlier on than Dick Jauron was, and will have a better shot at bringing on a coaching staff with longer and more impressive credentials than John Shoop, Greg Blache and Gary Crowton. His assistants will need to mold Rex Grossman into a franchise quarterback, solidify the offensive line, make heads or tails out of the Michigan alums, create a pass rush out of stone, find ways to best utilize the tremendous talents of Brian Urlacher and countless other lists along the way.
Whether or not the Bears return to respectability; it will be different this time around. Agamemnon can sleep well.