- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder fired coach Norv Turner and replaced him with assistant Terry Robiskie yesterday, giving Robiskie three weeks to salvage a season gone terribly awry.
Robiskie, who was named the Redskins' interim coach, has spent 19 years as an assistant waiting for a promotion. Now, he has a head coaching job but only the team's final three games in which to prove himself. Either Robiskie leads the slumping Redskins into the playoffs, or he likely will be dismissed before next season.
Snyder spent an NFL record $100 million on his team's payroll this season, and preseason hype had the Redskins contending for a Super Bowl title. But the team is 7-6 and probably needs to win its remaining games to make the postseason.
Robiskie embraces that as a challenge he says he sometimes doubted would ever come.
"One game is enough to show what you can do," Robiskie said. "Whether it's one game, one scrimmage, one play, one practice. If you can coach, you can coach."
Turner had been the target of fan wrath "Impeach Norv" signs regularly appeared in the stands in 1998 for much of his often-disappointing tenure. The NFL's third-most senior coach leaves the Redskins with a 49-59-1 record with one playoff appearance.
Turner survived Snyder's condition that he make the playoffs last season to keep his job. But his inability to produce victories the Redskins have lost four of their past five games with a record payroll proved too much for the notoriously impatient Snyder to endure.
Beleaguered special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel also was dismissed yesterday, and NFL sources said Redskins player-personnel director Vinny Cerrato is inquiring about several college and NFL openings.
Snyder and minority partner Fred Drasner began discussing possible replacements for Turner with consultant Pepper Rodgers and Cerrato shortly after the Redskins' devastating 9-7 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
Turner left the stadium that night after a lengthy wait, expecting to be fired the next day. Indeed, he was released within 20 minutes of the arrival of Snyder and Drasner at Redskin Park yesterday.
"Do you take the risk of a repeat of the Giants [loss] against Dallas [on Sunday], or make a move to see if we can jump-start this team?" said Drasner. "This team can go back to where they were in St. Louis. Win the next three games and we're definitely in the playoff hunt… . Terry brings a great sense of urgency, and I thought we were losing that."
Said Snyder: "This was not planned. We did not have backup plans. We did not anticipate losing [Sunday's] game. We decided to make that change. At this point, we're just looking forward to Sunday."
Turner said he understood the reason for the change.
Choking back tears twice during a brief press conference, Turner said he regretted not being able to finish what he thought might have been his best season. He left without taking questions. Four boxes of his belongings soon followed.
"There's part of me that would like to be a part of it, and there's part of me that understands why it's important, necessary to make a change right now," said Turner. "It's been an unbelievable seven years for me. Jack Kent Cooke hired me. Being with him for three years is one of the highlights of my life… .
"I appreciate the opportunity that Dan Snyder gave me. I don't think anyone can question his passion, how badly he wants to win… . We all know at some point you're going to move on. It's time for me to move on."
Turner will get the $1 million remaining on his contract and is free to join another team.
Replacing Turner wasn't simple, though. The owners didn't have a plan, though they had considered New York Jets president Bill Parcells, University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier and University of Miami coach Butch Davis in recent weeks. The team made quick inquiries about several candidates and discussed Rodgers taking over for the rest of the season. However, team sources said several Redskins assistants would have opposed the appointment of Rodgers, so he was instead made vice president of football operations.
The group then met with defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes, who declined the promotion. Rhodes had been fired as head coach over the past two years by the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers. Rhodes hates media attention he's given only one interview since the season's start and simply wanted to remain in the background.
Robiskie was eager for the job. The 46-year-old assistant believed his longtime ambition of becoming a head coach would eventually be realized; a run to the Super Bowl by the Redskins would make him the next hot assistant coach. Instead, the team's demise appeared to send Robiskie into a career tailspin.
But Snyder and Drasner were impressed by Robiskie's renowned inspirational pregame talks and offered him the job at 2:30 a.m.
Robiskie is perhaps the most popular assistant coach on the team, known for a tough-love style that ranges from a recent sideline confrontation with receiver Albert Connell to locker room pep talks.
"Sometimes you've got to be frank," Robiskie said. "It may rub some people wrong because you're not that person's position coach."
Certainly, Turner's removal rubbed some players the wrong way. They understood the move but disliked the timing. Mostly, they felt it was unfair to penalize the coach for the players' poor performance.
"Because we didn't perform well, we cost him his job," Connell said. "We do carry that burden."
Robiskie met with Turner briefly during the morning. He admitted having "100 second thoughts" about replacing his boss of seven years.
"I didn't need to tell Norv I love him. He already knows that," said Robiskie. "I didn't need to say thanks again. I've done enough of that. Norv was wonderful with me with this situation. In the end, his statement was 'Somebody's got to do it.' "
Turner already has been linked to an expected vacancy with the San Diego Chargers and a recent opening at the University of Southern California, where he was an assistant coach from 1976 to 1983. Turner said he would consider a college position, but prefers the NFL.

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