- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer expects to return next year, but the 0-5 start already has owner Dan Snyder considering front office and roster changes.

NFL sources say there has been a buzz leaguewide for several weeks over Schottenheimer's possible firing at season's end. Minority owner Fred Drasner is especially upset over Schottenheimer's demand for complete operations control without fulfilling preseason predictions of a Super Bowl contender.

Snyder and Drasner have made no firm decisions on changes, but ESPN reported yesterday that Snyder is once again considering Florida coach Steve Spurrier for 2002 after the latter spurned his offer in January.

However, Schottenheimer fully believes his return in 2002 is automatic. He has a four-year deal worth $10 million. Snyder recently gave Schottenheimer a public vote of confidence.

"I give no thought to [not returning] whatsoever. I have no concern about it whatsoever," Schottenheimer said. "People are entitled to take any position they believe in, but we do what we're doing. This is not a short-term fix. We have work to where I believe we can get it done."

Schottenheimer denied there is a growing rift with Snyder even though they no longer talk daily. And Snyder, Drasner and vice president Pepper Rodgers have scouted quarterbacks Joey Harrington (Oregon) and David Carr (Fresno State) as possible first-round selections, despite the fact that Schottenheimer previously said he would prefer to acquire a veteran. Schottenheimer has since amended his stance and said taking a quarterback in the opening round is a possibility.

Team sources said Snyder has wanted to resume his heavy involvement in daily operations since the preseason. However, it was Snyder's overspending last year on aging free agents like cornerback Deion Sanders, quarterback Jeff George and safety Mark Carrier who are no longer with the team that forced a roster overhaul this season because of salary cap problems.

Snyder recently joked during a National Press Club speech that the team's current woes are the result of him bowing to public pressure to relinquish his involvement. However, team sources said Snyder received more than 600 e-mails from fans in the past few weeks saying he should become more involved. Snyder has continued to talk with players to assess the team's mood, including defensive end Bruce Smith in the locker room after the 45-13 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 30.

Schottenheimer has complete say in all football operations and isn't threatened by Snyder's input. However, team sources said Schottenheimer refused Snyder's recent request for assistant coaches to sign a new team code of conduct. Some coaches felt many of the clauses were already covered by existing pacts.

"I've tried to get Dan involved in anything he has an interest from the beginning," Schottenheimer said. "He's the boss. He owns the team. He has never done anything but support all the decisions we have made."

Schottenheimer believes his 15-year system that produced 11 playoff seasons eventually will turn around the Redskins. And he made no big changes after a players meeting on Oct. 1. Schottenheimer conceded he doesn't notice public opinion, like fans booing his halftime Jumbotron commercial for the Redskins Relief Fund during the home opener on Sept. 16.

"Steel ourselves? No, the one thing we will not tolerate is self pity," he said. "We're not going to get involved with that as players or coaches. That is the most distasteful of all emotions."

Instead, Schottenheimer again talked of working harder despite a grueling training camp that many long-time veterans felt was their toughest ever. Schottenheimer admitted the worst start of his career has been surprising.

"I really haven't focused on it. All I can do is look to today to get better, whether it's the way we practice or prepare," he said. "There's nothing about 0-5 that feels good, but that's where we are and we have to keep moving forward."

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