Lovie Smith will return as Bears coach

Jerry Angelo is gone but Lovie Smith isn’t going anywhere.

The Chicago Bears ousted the general manager after 11 seasons this morning, but Smith will return as coach in 2012, the club announced.

Team president Ted Phillips will address the situation in a 4 p.m. (CST) press conference, but the team said on its Web site the coach will return. That means the Bears will presumably pair a new general manager with a coach – a move the Bears made in 2001 when Angelo was hired to join forces with existing head coach Dick Jauron. That produced one division crown and two lousy seasons before Angelo was able to hire his own coach.

It’s an interesting move and with the Bears owing Smith roughly $11 million for the next two seasons, perhaps finances played a part in the decision. Former Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell currently serves as director of player personnel. It’s not known if he is a candidate to grab more power in this situation.

Smith is still evaluating the future of his coaching staff and no decision has been announced on embattled offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who is coming out of contract.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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