ASHBURN, Va. -- Steve Spurrier became the highest-paid coach
in the NFL on Monday, signing a $25 million, five-year deal with
the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins announced the signing of Spurrier a day after
firing Marty Schottenheimer. Spurrier, who abruptly left Florida on
Jan. 4 after a successful 12-year run, will be introduced Tuesday
at a 6 p.m. ET news conference at Redskin Park.
"Steve Spurrier will bring a supercharged, exciting and dynamic brand of football to our great fans," owner Daniel M. Snyder said in a news release. "His ability to energize players and teams is unprecedented. The Redskins deserve to be back at the Super Bowl, and I am immensely confident that Steve is the coach to get us there."
The size of the contract makes Spurrier the highest-paid coach in the NFL. The
previous high was $4 million a year for Seattle's Mike Holmgren as coach and general manager.
Spurrier will be the coach and only the coach, eliminating the
possibility of the type of conflict that led Snyder to dismiss
Schottenheimer, who was also the director of football operations.
Ironically, Spurrier was offered the job a year ago by Snyder, but opted at
the time to remain with the Gators' program another year.
"He's going to be a hell of a coach in the NFL," a Redskins source said of
Spurrier. "This is a special guy and he's going to bring a lot of excitement
Sources told ESPN.com he had already begun
contacting people who likely will serve both on his coaching staff and as
support personnel in the front office.
Spurrier is expected to seek Bucs personnel director Tim Ruskell as his personnel man in Washington, sources said. The two men worked together when Spurrier coached the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL.
Yet to be determined is who will come in as the general manager. Spurrier has made it clear that he will need an experienced front office executive and likely a strong defensive coordinator. Over the
past week, Snyder has spoken at least twice by phone to former Redskins and
San Diego GM Bobby Beathard, but he has decided to remain in retirement.
Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay also has rebuffed overtures.
One potential candidate is longtime NFL personnel man Ken Herock, who
interviewed during the summer with Schottenheimer for the personnel job that
subsequently went to Schneider.
Other names mentioned: Bruce Allen and Ron Wolf.
Washington defensive tackle Kenard Lang got to know Spurrier
while playing for the University of Miami against Florida.
"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
Spurrier became the country's most-wanted coach after he
suddenly quit Florida and declared himself ready to take on the
NFL. A colorful sideline presence and mastermind at offensive
game-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 as a quarterback for Florida,
Spurrier played in the NFL from 1967-76, nine of those seasons as a
backup QB for the San Francisco 49ers.
"He's one of them love-em, hate-em 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.
Spurrier's hiring represents the type of high-profile signing
preferred by Snyder, whose players have included Deion Sanders,
Bruce Smith and Jeff George.
Spurrier's offense would offer a stark contrast from the
conservative approach used by Schottenheimer.
"If it's Steve Spurrier, you're talking about an individual
who's going to come in here with some real energy, an offensive
mindset," cornerback Darrell Green said. "Offense is what puts
people in the seats and excites the team. That's something we need
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.