There are four reasons to extend a pro coach's contract when he still has a year remaining on his current deal:
1. His lame-duck status would distract the team.
2. He should be rewarded for consistent excellence.
3. A team is worried that another club will swoop in and steal him.
4. He is so popular with the fans that they'd revolt if he left.
Now, let's see how these apply to Lovie Smith.
1. As in most cases, the "distraction" angle is a media fabrication with zero relevance. If anything, the players love Smith because he's an enabler and a coddler and will play extra hard to "win one for Lovie."
2. Lovie has been the Bears' coach for 7 years. They have missed the playoffs in 4 of those seasons and have won a grand total of 3 playoff games on his watch. This is not what one would call runaway success. If anything, he is one of sport's most overpaid coaches.
3. If Lovie gets angry and bolts after the season, would it really be that difficult for the Bears to find a coach at least as good? If anything, several accomplished coaches would line up for the opportunity to replace him, with Bill Cowher likely first in line.
4. That's a good one. If anything, Lovie might be the only guy associated with the Bears capable of losing a popularity contest to Jay Cutler. (Actually, it probably would be a tie.)
Conclusion: There is not a single decent reason for the Bears to throw a whole bunch of cash at Lovie and guarantee his continued employment for four or five more years.
Why not wait to see how the team performs in 2011? What's the stinkin' hurry?