- Associated Press - Thursday, September 8, 2011

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - For such a busy man, Pat Shurmur’s office desk is alarmingly uncluttered, a clear sign of his organization and attention to detail.

Everything about him seems neat, orderly.

Winding down after a humid morning practice, Cleveland’s first year coach, the Browns' fifth since 1999 and third in four years, is remarkably at ease, almost too relaxed. In less than a week, he will make his NFL debut, his first game as a head coach for the 46-year-old at any level.

He’s not nervous. There’s no reason to be if you’re prepared. That’s what his parents taught him, and that’s what he’s passing on to his four kids and players.

Shurmur’s genuine, smart, sensible. A Midwest kid, who played center at Michigan State, he studied hard and worked his way to the top of his profession.

“I’m not trying to be anyone but me,” he said. “I’m trying to take what I’ve learned and put my spin on it.”

The Browns are hoping Shurmur twists them into winners.

Hired in January, “January 13th,” Shurmur quickly points out during the early moments of a sit-down interview in his tastefully decorated office overlooking the Browns’ greener-than-green practice fields, Shurmur already feels at home in Cleveland. He grew up just a few hours away in Michigan, a state like Ohio, where family and football are intertwined.

On shelves across from his desk are photos of his wife, Jennifer, and their four children. Next to the door is a signed photo of George Perles, his college coach and one of his many coaching mentors. There’s also a framed illustration of a Browns player standing on the sideline of Cleveland’s old stadium, a hooded jacket draped over his shoulders.

It hasn’t taken long for Shurmur to appreciate the passion Browns fans feel for their beloved team and the pain they’ve endured since the club returned in 1999 _ a 12-year span of losses, coaching changes and endless turmoil. Everywhere he goes, Shurmur hears the stories of what’s gone wrong.

“Growing up only a few hours from here, even though I knew a lot about the Browns, I didn’t know how intense this area is about football, how intense Cleveland Browns fans are,” said Shurmur, whose late uncle, Fritz, spent 24 years as an NFL assistant and worked for Browns president Mike Holmgren. “They love their Browns. That drives us, to know what we do really makes a difference. Mondays are much sweeter or much grayer depending on what happens on Sunday here. We get that.

“It up to us to make them sweeter.”

Shurmur’s road to Cleveland has taken him from coast to coast and back to where he started.

A four-year letterman and captain for the Spartans, Shurmur earned a master’s degree in finance before embarking on a career in business. In 1988, he started a sales job with IBM, but soon grew weary of the commute, suits and cold calls. He lasted less than nine months before quitting.

The coaching whistle called him.

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