- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Michigan State is prepared to offer its head coaching job to Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, a result of intensifying negotiations that prompted him to catch a flight immediately after the Redskins' loss to the New York Giants yesterday.
Lewis is expected to receive an offer of a five-year contract worth more than $1million annually. The $1million figure is believed to represent only salary; college coaches also receive lucrative endorsement contracts and bonuses as part of their deals.
The deal likely will include a buyout clause that would restrict Lewis' return to the NFL.
Lewis yesterday confirmed that he was taking a flight but would not confirm his destination, though there were strong indications Lewis was leaving to meet with Michigan State officials.
Lewis and school officials have negotiated throughout recent weeks. Both Michigan State and Redskins sources said the Spartans are "increasingly interested" in hiring Lewis.
The contract offer is expected to be made despite Lewis' refusal to be interviewed as part of a larger candidate search. Several prominent black assistant coaches have accused universities of giving cursory interviews to black candidates in order to quell criticism of a lack of minority hires.
Michigan State also is interested in University of Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris and Grambling coach and former Redskins quarterback Doug Williams.
Lewis hasn't given up on getting a head coaching job in the NFL. He narrowly missed getting the job as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. There was speculation that Lewis would be considered to be coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but that team's success this season means that coach Dan Reeves' job is safe.
However, Lewis became receptive to Michigan State after the university openly said it would prefer to hire a black coach. Michigan State is expected to include restrictive exit clauses to keep Lewis from using the school to gain a head coaching job in the NFL after one season. Former Spartans coach Nick Saban considered offers from pro teams for several years before finally leaving for Louisiana State in 2000.
Lewis signed a three-year, $2.6million contract with the Redskins in January that made him the NFL's highest-paid coordinator. However, the Redskins expected Lewis to leave after one year. Lewis is expected to remain with the Redskins through their Dec.29 season finale against the Dallas Cowboys even if he accepts Michigan State's offer. He could depart earlier with owner Dan Snyder's permission.
Already, the Redskins are preparing for next season without Lewis. Team sources said the Redskins are considering promoting linebackers coach George Edwards or defensive line coach Ricky Hunley to coordinator. Hunley was praised by Spurrier as a potential coaching candidate should the Arizona Cardinals fire their beleaguered coach. Edwards spent two years as a defensive assistant at Florida under Spurrier and already is the assistant coordinator.
The prospect of hiring a fifth coordinator in five years has several defensive players openly expressing frustration about the constant change. The Redskins remain in the top half of NFL defenses for the third straight year, but learning new roles under Lewis left many players feeling uncomfortable in the system until midseason. Defensive end Bruce Smith and linebacker LaVar Arrington have been staunch Lewis supporters, even though Arrington at times has expressed unhappiness with his role.
"I know that change after change after change you start to feel like a damn orphan," Arrington said. "Quit sending me from home to home. I want to be a part of a family. I have to adapt and adjust every season. I'm tired of dealing with changes. I just want to play and not worry about anything else.
"I just think we need time. Teams need time to jell together. What scheme are we going to have now? What's my role? By the time we get to a point where people start understanding it, the season's almost over."
Lewis has been openly frustrated with the Redskins. He recently said the organization is "no utopia" during his weekly local television appearance. Team sources said Lewis has not easily worked with coach Steve Spurrier or Snyder and constantly argued with players who disagreed with his system.
Spurrier recently said he wanted to spend more time with the defense next season after interacting very little with it this season. Spurrier relied heavily on Lewis this season from practice habits to pregame preparation.
Lewis, the defensive mastermind of Baltimore's 2000 championship team, which allowed an NFL-record low of 165 points over 16 games, helped his unit finish No.2 overall twice in the past three years. Pittsburgh also ranked among the top three in points allowed from 1993 to '95 under Lewis.

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