- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2003

Back in December 2001, Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs was asked whether his coach, Dennis Green, would be returning the following season.

McCombs replied, “Absolutely.”

Sound familiar?

That’s the same one-word answer Dan Snyder gave recently when asked whether Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier would be back next year.

By the way, Green was fired a month later.

I guess we can surmise that “absolutely” is what they teach in NFL owners training school.

And if we wanted to stretch the lie, we could surmise Spurrier probably will be back next year — in the NFL but maybe at a new, warmer address.

Unlike the Nebraska rumors, the one that has Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga considering trying to make a deal to bring Spurrier — still a magical name in Florida with his legacy as the University of Florida coach — to Miami and taking over the final three years of his $25 million contract, seems to have more credibility. Like Snyder, Huizenga had his eye on Spurrier for quite some time, but the time was not right to make a change in Miami when the Ball Coach became available. The time may be right now.

I don’t know which owner is crazier in this scenario — Huizenga for wanting Spurrier, the highest-paid coach in the NFL with a 12-19 record going into the final game of the season tomorrow against the Philadelphia Eagles, or Snyder if he doesn’t take Huizenga up on the offer, reported last week by Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

If Snyder can get out of this mess without having to pay Spurrier a cent — and maybe even squeeze a draft choice or two out of the Dolphins in the process — then he would be a fool not to cut his losses and move on.

The Spurrier experiment is not working, and it is not going to work. It is amazing how much of a pass he is getting in this town. This is not a young coach who will develop over time. This guy was a star when he got here, with a system that made him a star. That is why he is making more money than any other coach in the league, and that is why he should be getting far less slack than he gets. Steve Spurrier is not suddenly going to “get it.” The time for that is long gone.

At 58, he is an old dog and not in the sense that Dick Vermeil or Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon or Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown is an old dog. They didn’t change their fundamental beliefs; they just introduced them to a new generation of players.

The only thing more ridiculous than believing Spurrier will adapt are the many times in the past two years when he has called three pass plays from inside the 10-yard line on a first-and-goal situation.

It is as if Spurrier is purposely trying to sabotage himself both on and off the field. Certainly some of his responses in interviews lately have been bizarre — laughing at the lack of time the offense has been on the field and offering no words of encouragement for next season.

Unless Snyder has a coach in mind and has intended to try to get rid of Spurrier all along, he may not be willing to take the charity deal from Huizenga because of his pride and ego, which, based on my experiences, are usually the guiding factors in decisions by franchise owners. If, through some miracle, Spurrier went to Miami and succeeded, that would be yet another insult to the Redskins owner — not that one more should make a whole lot of difference.

It should be pointed out that the Dolphins already have a coach — Dave Wannstedt. But he is about to finish another disappointing season, and the assumption is he will be gone after this year.

Huizenga has not commented on Wannstedt’s future. But if there is an “absolutely” coming out of his mouth anytime soon, the wheels may be in motion. And when Spurrier runs out of town as quickly as he can and heads back to Florida after this weekend, he may not be coming back.


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