SAN DIEGO (AP) - Rookie coach Mike McCoy takes his San Diego Chargers to face the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night, and oh how things could have been different.
McCoy, a hot commodity for teams seeking fresh coaches last season, was intrigued by the Cardinals.
The Cardinals, after firing Ken Whisenhunt, were interested in McCoy but he chose the Chargers.
Bruce Arians, who eventually replaced Whisenhunt, was scheduled for an interview with the Chargers before San Diego interviewed McCoy and became smitten with him.
Whisenhunt interviewed for the Chargers' coaching vacancy and ended up as San Diego's offensive coordinator.
All this serves as a backdrop to the third exhibition game for both teams. Starters are expected to play extended stints, with the Chargers seeking their first summer win.
The Cardinals haven't lost, earning victories against the Packers and Cowboys. But Arizona lost out on McCoy and time will tell if that was a good or bad thing.
What's clear is McCoy is pleased to start the rebuilding process in front of him with the Chargers. He replaced Norv Turner, who was fired following the Chargers' first losing season since 2003. The Chargers have also missed the playoffs for three straight years.
McCoy spoke with the Cardinals when he was still involved in last season's playoffs as the Broncos' offensive coordinator. He then interviewed in San Diego in the days after Denver was eliminated in double overtime by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
The Chargers didn't waste time hiring McCoy, someone they hoped can get quarterback Philip Rivers and a once-explosive offense back on track.
"There was some interest by a couple of teams and I wanted to sit down with the owners and the personnel departments of each areas and figure out which direction they wanted to head," McCoy said.
"That was the same thing I did here. It's a matter of getting a feel for where do I feel most comfortable. Because in this business, you can't just take a job just to take one because you will be looking for another job before you know it. So I wanted to sit down and get a good feel for them."
McCoy said his talk with the Cardinals was serious.
He said he met with owner Michael Bidwill, general manager Steve Keim and vice president of player personnel Jason Licht.
"It was a very detailed interview, like all the others ones," McCoy said. "Where they had a plan. And we got to know each other and see hey, what direction does the organization want to head?
"It's a huge change when you change head coaches and Steve Keim became their general manager. They've done a great job there and I have a lot of respect for them and it was a good interview."
But McCoy was happy to place his future with the Chargers. He liked what he heard from owner Dean Spanos and his new general manager, Tom Telesco.
"Without a doubt," he said. "I'm not going to go in and say with all the interviews what I did, but there is a reason why I am here. When I sat down with Dean and Tom and the rest of the staff here, after the interview process, it was the best decision for me. Not only for myself, but for my family and the organization."
The Chargers expect to be missing at least four starters. Those not practicing on Thursday were inside linebacker Manti Te'o (strained foot), defensive end Corey Liuget (strained shoulder) and wide receivers Malcom Floyd (strained knee) and Eddie Royal (bruised lung).
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.