Chargers coaching update

The San Diego Chargers have a strong desire to secure their coaching staff for the Senior Bowl, which officially kicks off on Sunday followed by the first practice session Monday morning.

Head coach Marty Schottenheimer was the first to receive his due, in the form of a two-year extension. His desire to keep the staff in place to ensure a level of continuity is the driving force behind the desire to reassemble the staff that drove the team to a 12-4 seasons.

Standing atop the list is offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. He is considered a hot commodity in the coaching ranks and the Chargers have the inside track, according to an NFL source.

Cameron led the team to the league's third highest point total and his familiarity with the bevy of weapons being assembled in San Diego has proved valuable. He has become a master at exploiting the holes in the defense by focusing on matchups and working his talented receivers in mismatches when possible.

Growing confidence in his quarterback also helped. Where the offense was stagnant in the past due to the fear of passing, Cameron opened up the offense and gave Drew Brees some creativity.

"We created situations where we could get the ideal matchups, whether it be LaDainian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell, Eric Parker, whomever it might be, (Antonio) Gates, through various formations and movements and alike personnel groups," Schottenheimer said when critiquing Cameron.

News on the other top coaching candidate, Hudson Houck, is not so rosy. Considered by many General Managers around the league to be the top offensive line coach in the NFL, Houck is seeking work elsewhere.

The Chargers, for their part, have tried to lure back Houck but have not had success.

"Houck has turned down no less than two offers from the Chargers and did notify the team he will be looking at other opportunities," one NFL scout with close ties to the team said. "At this time, Houck has not ruled out the Chargers, but indications are he may have something in the works with another organization."

Bill Muir is reportedly on shaky ground with Tampa Bay and it is unclear if he received a one-year extension for their Super Bowl victory. The thinking was he would join Bill Parcells in Dallas but the Cowboys elevated tight ends coach Tony Sparano into the position. Could that mean Houck is destined for another sunny venue with Tampa Bay with Muir coming out west? That, of course, is pure speculation.

It is unclear what team may have their sights set on Houck but losing him would be a significant blow to the team.

Houck has stabilized a line that looked mediocre at best when the season began. He did the same last year with a group that wasn't very talented. One of their brightest stars on the line, Toniu Fonoti would likely take the biggest brunt.

"He has been a father to me," Fonoti admitted of his coach. "He has taught me everything I know now and is still teaching me."

With three players that barely shave on the starting line, Houck molded them into a cohesive unit that trusted one another. That strength of character and discipline is being threatened.

The Chargers are expected to re-sign most of their coaches by the end of the week so they can have a full staff heading to Mobile with a possibility that it could be delayed until early next week at the latest.

Losing one of those coaches could put a damper on their ability to scout talent at the Senior Bowl. There is something to be said about a coach who has an affinity for a player. That rapport often turns into a solid relationship when the player and coach meet during camps.

The announcement will likely include multiple coaches signed to new deals to keep the press buzz at a minimum.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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