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Sunday, January 13, 2002
Updated: January 14, 7:42 PM ET
Schottenheimer out, Spurrier in for Redskins

ESPN.com news services

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and coach Marty Schottenheimer just couldn't find a middle ground. Monday, he was officially fired as Washington's head coach, to be replaced by former Florida coach Steve Spurrier.

After nearly a week of discussions, an accommodation in which Schottenheimer might keep control of personnel decisions and Snyder could bring in a general manager under his rights outlined in the coach's contract, the pair parted ways Sunday night.

After a meeting earlier in the day left the two sides no closer to a resolution of their differences, Schottenheimer was summoned again to a 7:30 p.m. ET meeting and was released from the final three seasons of his four-year, $10 million contract, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli and Chris Mortensen reported.

A Fair Schott?
An argument could be made that Marty Schottenheimer was not given a fair chance. Joe Gibbs also started 0-5 and finished 8-8 in his first season as Redskins head coach, but he would go on to win the first of three Super Bowl titles the following season and coach Washington for 12 years. All Schottenheimer will get for this year's turnaround is a pink slip. The Redskins were one of nine teams this season to go 8-3 or better from Oct. 21 on, but each of the other eight teams reached the playoffs.
  Gibbs
1981
Schottenheimer
2001
Start 0-5 0-5
Finish 8-8* 8-8
Final tenure 12 yrs. 1 yr.
*Won Super Bowl in next season

Snyder was also able to get Spurrier on board to replace Schottenheimer, and sources said the former Florida Gators coach has agreed to a five-year, $25-million deal that makes him the highest paid coach in the NFL. Spurrier will be introduced on Tuesday.

"Snyder never would have fired Marty without having Spurrier in place," a league source said.

Schottenheimer will receive the $7.5 million in base salaries due him over the next three years.

Schottenheimer addressed the media 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.

"It was my belief that my way would have been the most successful, but Daniel Snyder owns the Washington Redskins. He made the commitment to the organization and he is entitled to make any decision he chooses."

The team subsequently issued a statement in which Snyder said that Schottenheimer was released from his contract, not for any coaching reasons, but rather "because of philosophical management issues." The statement noted Schottenheimer had been offered various paradigms in which he could have retained his job. A Redskins source said Schottenheimer had "a ton" of opportunities with "very palatable" options that would have kept him with the team.

Schottenheimer, 58, exits the Redskins, and perhaps the NFL for good, with a career coaching mark of 158-104-1. The 12th-winningest coach in NFL history, he was 8-8 in Washington for the 2001 season.

Schottenheimer didn't rule out a return to coaching.

"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 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 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. Most -- if not all -- will probably not be retained.

While Snyder felt Schottenheimer's job as coach was acceptable, the owner was perplexed by Schottenheimer's decision to release fullback Larry Centers, who was signed by Buffalo and had a Pro Bowl year. Schottenheimer also stuck with Jeff George -- with no experienced backup -- through training camp even though it was apparent the quarterback didn't fit Schottenheimer's West Coast system.

Those decisions, and the early losing streak, soured a Snyder-Schottenheimer relationship that started out so well. The two vacationed in Europe together, the coach called the owner "Dan" in public, and they even wore matching straw hats at training camp.

The 'Skins started the campaign 0-5, then rallied to win eight of their final 11 games. Even some older veterans, who balked at Schottenheimer's conditioning and practice methods in training camp, played much harder for him in the second half of the year.

By the end of the season, Schottenheimer and Snyder were speaking less often, and Schottenheimer was calling the owner "Mr. Snyder."

But the contract that Schottenheimer signed provided Snyder the explicit right to hire a general manager or a front office executive with general manager-type responsibilities.

Schottenheimer fooled some observers early last week when he seemed ready to reconcile the possible addition of a general manager. He told his friends that he respected Snyder for having spent more than $800 million to purchase the franchise and that he ought to be able to hire people to oversee things.

But other issues remained and the two sides couldn't resolve them.

Team sources said that options presented to Schottenheimer on Sunday would have allowed him to make personnel decisions in the event of a disagreement over specific players. But ESPN.com has learned that Snyder requested that Schottenheimer also replace vice president of personnel John Schneider and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

The coach originally refused to do so but, after the sides adjourned their first meeting, was said to be considering the changes. He never got the chance to change his mind, because Snyder acted by releasing him from his contract.

Spurrier will become the fourth head coach for Snyder in his brief stewardship of a franchise that he legitimately loves and wants desperately to be successful. Snyder inherited Norv Turner, fired him last December and replaced him with interim coach Terry Robiskie, who was released at the end of the season. Then there was Schottenheimer and now Spurrier will add to the list.

Information from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Len Pasquarelli, along with the Associated Press, was used in this report.