Spurrier will get none of $15M left on deal

Updated: December 31, 2003, 3:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

WASHINGTON -- Steve Spurrier resigned as coach of the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, ending a failed attempt to bring his Fun 'n' Gun offense to the NFL.

Confirmation of the resignation came after two hours of confusion during which Spurrier was quoted as saying he had not resigned -- even though the team announced that he had. The bizarre turn of events happened because Spurrier had not been aware that the final details had been worked out between his new agent, Jimmy Sexton, and the team.

"We had a little miscommunication there," Spurrier told The Associated Press by telephone from Florida.

Spurrier said he would release a full statement later in the afternoon.

Shortly after the team's initial announcement, in a cell phone conversation, Spurrier told The Washington Post that he did not quit.

"I have not resigned. I've got a representative looking into some issues but I have not resigned," Spurrier was quoted as saying. "If they say that I have, that is not true. I'm not sure it is heading in that direction right now. We are seeing where it goes but I have not resigned."

Spurrier called Snyder on Tuesday morning and offered his resignation, according to team spokesman Karl Swanson.

"It was totally unexpected," Swanson said, and Snyder accepted it with "much regret."

Spurrier's replacement will be the fifth head coach since Redskins owner Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999.

Spurrier had three years remaining on his contract at a total of $15 million, but because he resigned he will get none of that money. It was reported earlier Tuesday that the Redskins will cover the former coach's moving expenses. Spurrier cannot coach in the league for the next three years because he'll remain under contract to Washington. However, he would be able to coach if a future NFL employer is willing to give the Redskins compensation, in the form of draft picks, cash, or both.

Spurrier's exit ends a failed attempt to bring his offense from the University of Florida to the NFL. He leaves the team three days after the Redskins finished 5-11, losing 10 of their last 12 games. His five-year, $25 million contract is the richest ever for an NFL coach.

Spurrier said repeatedly in recent weeks that he planned to return for a third season, although there was wide speculation about his future with the Redskins.

Spurrier clashed with Snyder over personnel moves, particularly the owner's decision to cut quarterback Danny Wuerffel at the end of training camp.

But Spurrier also was hurt by an inability to enforce discipline on players, especially after defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis left to become the Cincinnati Bengals' head coach.

The Redskins set a franchise record for penalties this season, and players described a lax atmosphere in which tardiness was tolerated, cell phones rang during meetings and on-field errors weren't corrected at practice.

Snyder had suggested that Spurrier's staff, the most inexperienced in the NFL and top-heavy with former Florida Gator assistants, needed an upgrade. But by contract, Spurrier had the right to hire and fire members of his staff. Spurrier also was said to be seeking added sway in roster and personnel matters, something he previously has not requested.

There is no small degree of irony in Spurrier retaining Sexton; the agent represents several prominent Redskins, among them quarterback Patrick Ramsey, offensive linemen Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas, and middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. Sexton also has worked with Snyder extensively in the past.

Spurrier was one of the most successful offensive coaches in college history, going 122-27-1 over 12 years in Florida with a high-powered pass-oriented offense that often produced lopsided scores.

He abruptly quit the Gators in January 2002 because he wanted to try his offense in the NFL. In what he later admitted was a mistake, Spurrier brought several ex-Florida players to the Redskins for his first season, during which he went 7-9 while making five changes at starting quarterback.

Snyder provided Spurrier with plenty of offensive talent last offseason, signing receiver Laveranues Coles and upgrading the offensive line. But the season went downhill quickly, first in a series of close losses, then later in embarrassing blowouts.

The Redskins lost their last two home games by a combined 58-7.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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