AUBURN, Va., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Steve Spurrier was officially named head coach of the Washington Redskins Monday.
Less than 24 hours after cutting ties with Marty Schottenheimer, the Washington Redskins hired the flamboyant Spurrier, as expected.
Although contract terms were not announced, it was reported Spurrier becomes the NFL's highest paid coach with a five-year, $25 million deal.
Daniel Snyder, the Redskins' impetuous owner, long has been smitten with Spurrier and his flashy offensive expertise at the University of Florida. Snyder tried to lure Spurrier away from the Gators last season before giving Schottenheimer a four-year, $10 million contract and total control of personnel decisions.
Snyder and Pepper Rodgers, edskins vice president of operations, attended Florida's Orange Bowl win on Jan. 2. Two days later, Spurrier stepped down as coach.
Rodgers was an assistant coach at Florida when Spurrier played there in the mid-1960s and the two have remained close friends.
Spurrier will be the latest highly successful college coach to try to bring his winning ways to the NFL.The most notable example in recent years was Barry Switzer, the former Oklahoma coach who took over a talented Dallas Cowboys team in 1994 and won a Super Bowl in his second season.
Florida won the national championship in 1996, six Southeastern Conference titles and as many as 10 games nine times in Spurrier's 12 years at the school. He compiled a record of 122-27-1, ranking as the best win total in history for a major college coach in his first 12 years at a school, eclipsing Tom Osborne's total of 118 for Nebraska from 1973-84.
Before Spurrier arrived, the Gators had never won an SEC title or 10 games in a season.
The Gators were 10-2 this past season, but lost a chance to play for the national championship when they fell to Tennessee in their regular-season finale on Dec. 1. Florida capped its
season with a 56-23 trouncing of Maryland in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday. As Spurrier trotted off the field after the game, he gave an affectionate wave to the fans in what turned out to be his farewell.
Spurrier coached at Duke for three years and compiled a 20-13-1 record before taking over at Florida. He previously coached the Tampa Bay Bandits in the defunct United States Football League, leading them to two playoff appearances in three years and a 35-19 record.
During a farewell news conference last week, Spurrier said he had no intention of handling personnel matters, which will fit into Snyder's plan. The Redskins plan "to hire an experienced
professional to oversee" all non-coaching player personnel matters," according to a team release issued Sunday night.
Citing a disagreement on "philosophical management issues," the Redskins fired Schottenheimer on Sunday night.
According to a statement issued by the Redskins late Sunday night, Schottenheimer was dismissed because he did not want to relinquish his final say over personnel matters following an 8-8
Schottenheimer addressed the media on Monday morning and confirmed Snyder's decision to strip him of total control over personnel matters was the reason for the dismissal.
"The issue we could not resolve was the process of selecting
players to make up the Washington Redskins roster,"
Schottenheimer said. "The opportunity to determine the
composition of the Washington Redskins was the single most
element of my taking the job here last January."
Snyder's decision to give Schottenheimer total control over
personnel last year was a curious one and one the owner came to
regret. The two met several times over the past week and Snyder
tried to convince Schottenheimer of the need to hire a general
manager before firing him.
"Our decision was a difficult one and was based on philosophical
management issues, not on coaching ability," Snyder said.
"It was my belief that my way would have been the most successful, but Daniel Snyder owns the Washington Redskins," Schottenheimer said. "He made the commitment to the organization and he is entitled to make any decision he chooses."
The change is an expensive one for Snyder since Schottenheimer will pocket $7.5 million over the next three years.
The Carolina Panthers, who fired George Seifert last week after a 1-15 season, also had expressed interest in Spurrier.
The Redskins lost their first five games under Schottenheimer this past season and many veterans referred to his practice sessions as a boot camp. But after defensive end Bruce Smith met with Schottenheimer to voice the players' displeasure, the coach modified his approach and Washington reeled off five consecutive wins to move into playoff contention.
However, the Redskins lost three of their next four games before closing the season with two wins.
Schottenheimer had been out of football for two years before taking the Redskins job. While working last season as a television commentator, he expressed doubt he could work for a meddling owner like Snyder, claiming their management styles
"were not compatible," he said. But that was before he was offered a $10 million contract by Snyder.
The imaptient Snyder has his fourth coach in less than three years, with Spurrier joining Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie and Schottenheimer.
Schottenheimer ranks 11th all-time with 153 wins but never has been to a Super Bowl and is 5-11 in the postseason. He was 101-58-1 as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs from 1989-98 and 44-27 as coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1984-88.