- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Get ready for the revolution.
When Steve Spurrier is introduced tonight at Redskin Park as the next Washington Redskins coach, the wide open era of burgundy and gold football will officially begin.
Gone are the days of Marty-ball, and his plodding, pounding, ball-control bore of an offense; Spurrier revolutionized the passing game at the college level in his 12 seasons at Florida. Now, Spurrier is set to bring the Fun 'N' Gun to the offensively stagnant Redskins, who nearly set a franchise record for fewest points last season.
And gone are the days of bland, cliched coach-speak that epitomized the Norv Turner/Marty Schottenheimer regimes. The man dubbed "Steve Superior" by the foes who suffered both his verbal barbs and his teams' dominance has never been hesistant to speak his mind.
Is there another coach who is as brash as he is brilliant, as outspoken as he is outstanding? His critics call it arrogance. His supporters call it confidence. But no one can deny that wherever he has coached, the 56-year-old Spurrier has backed up his chatter with championships.
"I'm intrigued to see if our style, my way of coaching, can work out in the NFL," said Spurrier when he resigned as Florida's coach on Jan. 4. "I need to find out before I hang it up for good."

For a defining look inside the psyche of Spurrier, just turn back to 1966 and his senior season at Florida. Late in a now-legendary game against Auburn with the score tied at 27, Florida coach Ray Graves pulled his star quarterback off the field and sent in kicker Wayne Barfield for a 40-yard field goal attempt.
Spurrier saw the kicker coming, called a timeout and went over to Graves for a chat.
"He said, 'Coach, I'm not sure he can get it there. Let me kick it. I'll make it,'" remembered Graves, who eventually sent in Spurrier for just the second field goal attempt of his career. "Now, I'd seen him kicking plenty in practice, and he had the leg for it. We argued for a little while, but I knew it was no use trying to talk him out of it. Steve always thought he could do anything, and he was usually right. So, I decided it was Steve's final season, there were only about two minutes left and he was our guy. So, I told him to go ahead and try it. The rest is history."
Spurrier, of course, nailed the kick, and the victory eventually propelled the Gators to an appearance in the Orange Bowl and a 9-2 season. That kick, as well as his record-setting passing efforts and 40.8-yard punting average, earned Spurrier the school's first Heisman Trophy that season.
"Aw, anybody could have made that kick," said Spurrier, who has always preferred praising his players or needling his opponents to pounding his own chest. "Making a 40-yard field goal isn't that big of a deal."
Actually, kicking a 40-yard game-winner is a big deal for an NFL kicker. For a college player who isn't even a kicker, it's extraordinary. Such is the competitive fire and outrageous confidence of Spurrier.
Some have conjectured that Spurrier's ultra-competitive spirit was born when the preacher's son was spurned by the University of Tennessee as a prep phenom from nearby Johnson City, Tenn., a tiny town 60 miles North of Knoxville. Spurrier always liked "pitching it around." In fact, he never lost a game in three seasons as the ace of Science Hill High's baseball team. But Spurrier was a passing quarterback, and the Volunteers were a running team. So, Spurrier went to Florida and spent a good chunk of the next 40 years torturing Tennessee.
After graduating from Florida, Spurrier spent 10 seasons as a backup quarterback in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following a handful of seasons as an assistant coach at Florida and Duke, Spurrier earned his first head-coaching job with the United States Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits in 1983. In three seasons with the Bandits, Spurrier introduced the league to his pass-happy scheme, steering the team to a 35-19 record and two playoff appearances.
Then came his first major reclamation project, when Spurrier took over as the coach of a Duke program that was, and now once again is, the laughingstock of the Atlantic Coast Conference. In three seasons with the Blue Devils, Spurrier's teams led the ACC in passing offense and total offense, improved from 5-6 to 8-4, and won the school's first and only conference title (1989) since 1962.
He returned to his alma mater for the 1990 season, taking over a probation-wracked progam from Gary Darnell and leading the Gators to an Southeastern Conference-best 9-2 record in his first season.
In his 12 seasons at Florida, Spurrier won six SEC titles, a national championship (1996) and posted a 122-27-1 record the best 12-year coaching start at one institution in NCAA history. His teams were 68-5 at Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which he affectionately dubbed "the Swamp" in 1990. Under his 12 season's in Gainesville, the Gators led the league in scoring and passing seven times. And his two premier pupils, 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and Rex Grossman (2000-present), boast the two highest season quarterback ratings in NCAA history.
And yet, despite that glowing resume, there are some critics who wonder whether or not Spurrier's style will translate to NFL success.
Spurrier likes playing golf almost as much as he likes drawing up "ball plays," and some folks have suggested he's in for a rude awakening in the workaholic coaching world of the NFL.
"I saw an article about Jim Haslett, the New Orleans coach, saying he comes in to work at 4:30 a.m.," said Spurrier, addressing the issue of his work ethic. "It's not doing him any good coming in at 4:30. I've always thought the time you spend with your players is the most important. I guess what I'm trying to say is there are all kinds of ways to get the job done."
Some have pointed to Spurrier's well-publicized squabbles with his quarterbacks over the years, and insinuated that his perfectionist mind-set is going to chafe veteran players even more than collegians.
Current Chicago Bears backup quarterback and Spurrier protege Shane Matthews disagrees:
"He is the perfect head coach," said Matthews. "If you want to win, all you have to do is buy in. You don't think NFL players want to win first and foremost?"
Said Spurrier: "I'm not a guy that wants to do everything. I'll spend a lot of time working with the quarterback, and a few other guys on the offense, but I've always believed you hire assistants with expertise and let them do their jobs."
Finally, some look at the current Redskins' roster and snicker at the notion of Washington running a wide open offense next season. The Redskins offense is structured around ball-control running back Stephen Davis, who Spurrier couldn't trade if he wanted to because of salary cap implications. And the team doesn't seem to have the talent at quarterback or receiver to run Spurrier's system.
"Oh, I always enjoy it when the critics say you can't do something," said Spurrier. "I'm looking forward to being the underdog again."

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