SAN DIEGO - Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was hired Tuesday as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, replacing the fired Norv Turner.
Turner was let go along with general manager A.J. Smith one day after the team completed its third consecutive non-playoff season. McCoy, 40, will be the 15th head coach in Chargers history.
McCoy interviewed for the job Monday, just two days after the Broncos were eliminated from the NFL playoffs by the Baltimore Ravens, according to Chargers officials.
Chargers President Dean Spanos said at a news conference that it became clear during the interview that McCoy was the best choice among five candidates being considered by the team.
"It was very clear to us that Mike had all the qualities we were looking for in a head coach," Spanos said. "He has a very structured vision about how to build and coach a team."
He said the new coach has an innovative mind for offense and maximizing the talents of his players.
McCoy oversaw the Broncos offense for four seasons, adapting an option-oriented attack in 2011 for quarterback Tim Tebow and a passing game this year for veteran quarterback Peyton Manning. He held a variety of assistant coaching jobs for the Carolina Panthers before his stint in Denver.
He called the Chargers job an "opportunity of a lifetime."
"We've got one goal in mind every year, and that's to win it and be the last team standing up on the podium with a trophy," McCoy said.
He said tough decisions about the team will have to be made, and that it will take some time.
Considering his background, McCoy said he would hire an offensive coordinator to work under him. He was non-committal about whether defensive coordinator John Pagano would be retained.
He promised to bring changes to team routines like practice and travel schedules, and even the food players eat.
McCoy, who grew up in Novato, in Marin County, was a standout quarterback at the University of Utah.
The Chargers last week hired Tom Telesco, also 40, away from the Indianapolis Colts to replace Smith as general manager.
There was high praise from McCoy's quarterback last year in Denver. Peyton Manning called him a leader and a worker.
"We spent a lot of hours together last year: early mornings and late nights, trying to get our plan in place, what kind of offense we were going to be and there's no substitute for a work ethic and Mike certainly has that," Manning said. "I think he's ready. He paid his dues. Mike's a good leader."
Next season's quarterback Philip Rivers is clearly excited.
"This is the guy I was pulling for," he told 10News. "Once I found out they were bringing him in, I was hoping he wouldn't leave again. It's exciting. I mean, shoot, it's awesome! The passion is clear."
Rivers also reflected on the dismal 2012 season.
"It was tough, going through what we went through in the season, losing Norv... and I'm excited and fired up and looking forward to earning the trust and respect from coach and building that and starting with a clean slate," he said.
Chargers fans were intently watching and listening as the new head coach was introduced to San Diego live on ABC10.
Fan Abraham Muheize told 10News, "I think it was a good choice. Chargers got Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. They've been to the playoffs the last two years… might be something he can bring to San Diego, hopefully."
McGregor's Bar is close to Qualcomm Stadium and a favorite watering hole after games. Partner Ian Linekin weighed in.
"I think it's going to be challenging, absolutely." He said. "He's walking into a tough spot but I think the fact there's something fresh going on is going to help the community rally a little bit again and maybe we can see some games on TV."
A few fans summed it up very succinctly. Joanne Ackerman said, "My husband says they need a new coach."
Brianna Carter added, "I'm happy that we're getting a new coach because we need it."
Others went into more depth. Paula Osheroff told 10News, "The Chargers have had enough challenges and have enough ahead of them that having somebody with new insight, some new ideas that comes up and isn't a 'do it my way or the highway' might be good for them."
Corby Hayes likes McCoy’s youth.
"Need somebody young, I think, because new techniques, new changes, young guys have more ideas… make big changes in our team," he said.
Former Chargers offensive lineman Mike Goff thinks McCoy is a great hire.
"This guy was able to win a playoff game with Tim Tebow and… you also got the fact that he took a guy in Peyton Manning who didn't play for a full season and really made him have a productive season: throwing for 30-plus touchdowns with only about 11 interceptions so I think it's a great hire to get Philip Rivers back on track," he said.