COMMENTARY | The San Diego Chargers are in the national news for all the wrong reasons amidst allegations of cheating following the debacle of a 35-24 loss on Monday Night Football in Week 6 vs. the Denver Broncos.
As if the heated rivalry between these two long-time AFC West division foes wasn't bitter enough, the latest series of events, which was started by the Broncos according Chargers' officials, will push it into the category of downright nasty.
But what's even more important to look at are the broader implications of what it means for the folks in charge -- namely Norv Turner and the coaching staff. What saved Turner's job in the past has been the fact that he's had the unconditional support of his players. Philip Rivers has gone on record many times praising his coach despite popular belief to the contrary. But Rivers' poor performance in 2012 coupled by the allegations that the Chargers have used a substance prohibited by the NFL could prove to be the tipping point.
Rivers is losing credibility as he is on his way to putting together perhaps his worst season as a professional. Meanwhile, Chargers' fans have suffered through mediocrity while constantly being tabbed as one of the most talented teams in the league over the past few seasons.
An 8-8 record a season ago and a narrow miss of the playoffs seemed like enough cause for Chargers' president Dean Spanos to part ways with Turner, but he stuck with him despite an outcry from fans.
With a 3-3 record thus far and now the cheating allegations along with it, the writing is on the wall for this underachieving staff. While the infraction on its own is minor enough to brush aside for the time being pending the NFL's investigation, it's a substantial blemish on Turner's record combined with his consistent postseason failure.
The mantra with Turner is that he's a good offensive coordinator and an average head coach. When it's all said and done in San Diego, whatever the result, he'll have had plenty of opportunities to prove otherwise. At this point, however, it's proven to be accurate.
If the cheating scandal isn't the beginning of the end, it's at least the middle of the end, because the Chargers don't look like a team that can scare anybody in 2012. The focus for this team that needs dramatic improvement needs to be on the field, and the distraction that this type of situation brings will only make matters worse.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Diego Chargers and the NFL as a Southern California-based sports journalist, editor, and blogger. You can read him on SB Nation and Examiner.com. He is also the Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.
You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets