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Redskins Go to Fun 'N Gun

Pro football: After Schottenheimer is fired, Spurrier agrees to five-year, $25-million contract to become Washington's fourth coach in 13 months.

January 14, 2002|CHRIS HARRY | ORLANDO SENTINEL

TAMPA, Fla. — Steve Spurrier will be tossing a Washington Redskin visor next season.

Spurrier, who surprisingly resigned as University of Florida coach on Jan. 4, has agreed to a record five-year, $25-million deal, according to NFL sources, to become head coach of one of the league's most tradition-rich franchises.

Unavailable for comment Sunday night, the 56-year-old Spurrier is expected to be announced as the Redskins' 25th coach--and fourth in 13 months--at a news conference perhaps as early as Tuesday.

To make way for Spurrier--the winningest coach in Florida history at 122-27-1 in 12 seasons--the Redskins' billionaire owner Dan Snyder fired Marty Schottenheimer Sunday night. Schottenheimer had completed only one season of a four-year, $10-million contract. Snyder will owe Schottenheimer all of the $7.5 million remaining on the deal.

After starting the season 0-5, the Redskins rallied to an 8-8 finish, but lost three December home games after clawing back into the playoff chase. The Redskin offense was ranked 30th among 31 teams and scored fewer points than all but three teams.

Last year, Snyder gave Schottenheimer total control of football operations. The two disagreed on several personnel decisions, however, prompting Snyder to exercise a clause in Schottenheimer's contract allowing for the coach's player-personnel and general-manager duties to be taken away.

Snyder also wanted Schottenheimer to make changes in the coaching staff to spice up the offense, but the coach balked at that request, citing a clause that gave him autonomy over his assistant coaches.

Snyder, whose net worth has been estimated at more than $2.2 billion, ended the stalemate by firing Schottenheimer.

"Coach Schottenheimer gave 100% of his efforts to the Redskins and made positive contributions to the team," Snyder said. "Our decision was a difficult one and was based on philosophical and management issues, not on coaching ability."

Now, the conservative Redskin offense will be turned over to Spurrier, whose trademarks at Florida were his dazzling Fun 'N Gun offense, an arrogance and swagger that prompted the nickname "Coach Superior" and an ever-present visor.

In his Jan. 7 farewell news conference in Gainesville, Fla., Spurrier spoke of a longtime desire to see if his innovative offense--not to mention his sometimes controversial methods--could work in the grandest football arena.

"I'm intrigued to see if my style of offense, my style of coaching, can be successful at the NFL level," he said.

"I need to find that out before I completely hang it up. Before I call my last play."

In that same news conference, Spurrier said he wanted to work with a solid player personnel department. With Schottenheimer's exit, Snyder will also have to hire a general manager with whom he is compatible.

One name that could surface in the next few days is Tampa Bay's Rich McKay, who along with Coach Tony Dungy is expected to be fired this week and be replaced by former New York Giant-New England Patriot-New York Jet coach Bill Parcells.

Other candidates include former Redskin general manager Bobby Beathard, former Packer GM Ron Wolf, and former Redskin director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato, who was fired by Schottenheimer.

Once his family, staff and the positions around him are settled, Spurrier will turn his attention to what he does best--calling football plays.

"He's won all his life, and he's not going to stop now," Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. "His new fans are getting a guy who's creative on offense, as competitive as anyone I've ever met, who hates to lose and loves to win. He also loves to have fun. We had fun for 12 years. Now, it's someone else's turn."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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