- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 13, 2002

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer finally might be fired today following a week of probing between him and owner Dan Snyder.
The subject of a buyout is expected to be discussed when the two meet today at an undisclosed location. They have spent the past six days feeling each other out, trying to determine which tactics each would use in what has been viewed as an almost inevitable parting.
Schottenheimer, protected by his contract, hasn't budged on any of the key issues. He has told Snyder he would be willing to work with a general manager-type figure, but he won't concede any of the overarching power guaranteed by his contract. And he isn't willing to be told whether to fire any of his assistant coaches.
In short, Schottenheimer is living by the letter of the deal he and Snyder agreed to about a year ago. He currently has control of his assistants and the final say on player acquisitions, including free agency and the draft. Team sources have said that, while he wants to remain coach, he is wary of working another year under Snyder, and wouldn't without his current contractual protection.
Snyder initially believed the threat of a GM would make Schottenheimer want to depart. The owner is attempting to fire Schottenheimer without paying the full $7.5 million required by the contract's final three seasons, and he hoped to leverage a buyout. But the coach was unmoved.
Redskin Park was virtually empty yesterday, though Schottenheimer did spend about an hour there in the early afternoon.
"No new developments," said Schottenheimer, who finally was able to enter and leave the team headquarters without being attacked by a media circus.
Snyder hopes to hire former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier, with whom members of the Redskins organization have met in recent days. Spurrier, whose offensive mind is as respected as any in the college game, is expected to seek $5 million or more per season.
Snyder pursued Spurrier before hiring Schottenheimer, and attempted to contact the Gators coach again this season during the Redskins' 0-5 start. The two spoke by phone earlier this week.
But Spurrier is slowing the process, hoping to maximize his current status as a free agent. Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and San Diego all are expected to at least speak with Spurrier. The Panthers met with Spurrier earlier this week.
Snyder also hopes to hire former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard. If Spurrier goes elsewhere, the owner and Beathard would huddle to determine the club's next coach. San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Oakland's Jon Gruden and Tampa Bay's Tony Dungy, all guiding teams in wild card games this weekend, could become candidates if fired.
Schottenheimer hasn't been fired yet because of the financial implications and because Spurrier is in no hurry. But Snyder can't wait forever. Beathard won't come until Schottenheimer is out. If coaches like Mariucci, Gruden and Dungy become available, it might be time to pull the trigger on Schottenheimer, bring in Beathard and start interviewing prospects.
If Tampa Bay is, as reported, close to a deal already with Bill Parcells, that would remove a top contender from the Spurrier chase and perhaps accelerate Spurrier's agreement with another club. The Bucs lost 31-9 at Philadelphia yesterday.
That Schottenheimer has remained resolute in this standoff shouldn't be any surprise. This is precisely how he handled the Deion Sanders situation last summer, and how he composed himself during the 0-5 start. In battles on and off the field, Schottenheimer has proved that he will evaluate the situation, position himself and wait for his opponent to make the mistake.
Unlike Schottenheimer, most assistant coaches have left town assuming that they will be fired. The NFL earlier this week announced that Arizona's staff will coach one of the teams in the Senior Bowl later this month, meaning the league had given up on Washington's staff still being in place at that point.

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