Ex-Gators coach breaks salary record with five-year deal worth $25-million in his first NFL job.
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Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 15, 2002
ASHBURN, Va. -- Steve Spurrier made his mark on the NFL even before coaching his first game or running a practice.
He became the highest-paid coach in league history Monday, hired by the Redskins a day after they fired Marty Schottenheimer. The national championship-winning coach at Florida signed a five-year deal worth $25-million.
The deal surpasses the high of $4-million a year Mike Holmgren makes as Seattle's coach and general manager.
Spurrier, who abruptly left Florida on Jan. 4 after a 12-year run that included six Southeastern Conference titles, will be introduced today at a news conference at Redskin Park.
Spurrier, a former NFL backup quarterback, "will bring a supercharged, exciting and dynamic brand of football to our great fans," owner Dan Snyder said.
Washington defensive tackle Kenard Lang got to know about Spurrier while playing for the University of Miami.
"He's not arrogant, but he's real, real, real confident," Lang said. "But he has to realize he has men he's coaching instead of little boys, who were just leaving their mommy and daddy and have their little old pacifiers in their mouth."
Lang is one of 17 unrestricted free agents on the Redskins' roster, a wrinkle Spurrier never had to handle in college.
Spurrier's offenses always looked as if they belonged in the pros, but quarterback is the Redskins' most uncertain position because neither Tony Banks nor Kent Graham is under contract for next season.
But Spurrier will have help from a yet-to-be-hired general manager, not wanting to run the whole operation the way Schottenheimer did as coach and director of football operations.
Snyder's desire to regain some of that power led him to fire Schottenheimer, the first coach to start a season 0-5 and win the next five games. The Redskins finished 8-8 in his only season.
Though Snyder thought Schottenheimer's job as coach was acceptable, the owner was unhappy with personnel moves involving Larry Centers, Jeff George and others.
Schottenheimer will receive the $7.5-million remaining on the four-year, $10-million contract he signed a year ago, with the Redskins picking up the difference in deals if Schottenheimer signs with another team.
The next step for Washington is to hire a general manager, with Bruce Allen, Vinny Cerrato, Bobby Beathard and Ron Wolf among the top candidates.
Spurrier became the country's most-wanted coach after he quit Florida and declared himself ready to take on the NFL. A colorful sideline presence and mastermind at offensive planning, Spurrier went 122-27-1 with the Gators and won the 1996 national title.
He has coached one professional team, the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL, going 35-19 in three seasons before the league folded.
The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, Spurrier played in the NFL from 1967-76, nine of those seasons as a backup for the 49ers.
"He's one of them love-him, hate-him kind of guys," Lang said. "He wants to do things his way. If he wants to put some points on somebody and embarrass them, he's going to do it."
The Redskins haven't had a losing season since Snyder bought the team for $800-million in 1999, but Spurrier will be his fourth coach. Norv Turner was 10-6 in 1999, and Turner and interim Terry Robiskie combined for an 8-8 record in 2000.
Asked about the Washington coaching carousel of which he's now a part, Schottenheimer managed a parting shot Monday.
"Stability enhances your ability to be successful," he said.
Schottenheimer said he never considered giving up his authority over player decisions, which Snyder gave him in an effort to prove hands-off ownership.
"Dan Snyder and I have agreed on many things. ... Our only difference was the means by which we would achieve it," Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer, who ended a two-year retirement to join the Redskins, said he wants to coach again, a distinct possibility given that he has a home in North Carolina and the Carolina Panthers have an opening.
"You're away from anything for a couple of years, and you think that you're still capable but you're not sure," Schottenheimer said. "Having been back for a year, I can do it."
Schottenheimer said in his next job he wouldn't necessarily demand the absolute control he thought was necessary under Snyder.
No decisions have been made regarding Schottenheimer's coaching staff, which includes his brother and his son.
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