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The Chicago Bears have fired head coach Lovie Smith

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No need for further speculation-- Lovie Smith is out in Chicago

USA TODAY Sports

11:10 am: Update--from the Chicago Bears official twitter:

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Now it's officially official.

Multiple reports confirm: Lovie Smith has been fired.

With the NFC North title on the line in Week 16, the Chicago Bears had a chance to not only win their division, but also compete for the #2 seed in the 2012 playoffs. The Green Bay Packers came to Soldier Field, and Lovie Smith had one more shot to secure his future. And he didn't.

The following week, the Bears managed to squeak out a victory over the 4-11 Detroit Lions, but it wasn't enough. The Bears also needed the Vikings to lose to the Packers, but Adrian Peterson had a field day, and Minnesota won the #6 seed by virtue of a tie-breaker.

The Chicago Bears missed the playoffs five times in the last six seasons, and are only the second team since 1990 to start a season 7-1 and not make the postseason.

The end of the season was not pretty for Lovie Smith, and new General Manager Phil Emery made it clear upon replacing Jerry Angelo that he was brought in to increase the talent level and elevate his team to compete with their division rivals.

Lovie Smith was obviously not a part of that plan.

Stay tuned...