Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

WP:Pupil Schools His Former Teacher Grossman Says 'It Was Fun' Beating Spurrier


Recommended Posts


Pupil Schools His Former Teacher

Grossman Says 'It Was Fun' Beating Spurrier, Leading the Bears to a Victory

By Gene Wang

Special to The Washington Post

Monday, December 22, 2003; Page D12

CHICAGO, Dec. 21 -- One of Steve Spurrier's finest pupils brought back a rush of memories for the Washington Redskins coach this week as he prepared to play the Chicago Bears. Spurrier and Rex Grossman, who was named the Bears' starting quarterback two weeks ago, shared plenty of good times at the University of Florida, especially during Grossman's sophomore season, when he led the Gators to a 9-2 record and a 56-23 victory over Maryland in the Orange Bowl en route to finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting.

On Sunday at blustery Soldier Field in conditions virtually the polar opposite of Gainesville's, Grossman engineered a closing drive that left his former coach on the losing end of a 27-24 decision and was unrepentant when asked if perhaps he felt just a bit guilty in doing so.

"It was fun," Grossman said. "It's just kind of weird that we're in this position, because two years ago this time we were getting ready to play in the Orange Bowl. This year I'm playing against him."

Grossman completed 19 of 32 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns in improving to 2-0 as a starter. And similar to last week, when he completed 13 of 30 passes during a 13-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Grossman managed the game well, making few mistakes and converting enough big plays to put the Bears in position to win.

Grossman went 4 for 6 during the winning drive, including a nine-yard completion to wide receiver Dez White to the Redskins 37 that set up place kicker Paul Edinger's 45-yard field goal with five seconds to play.

"Rex had a good game," Spurrier said of the player he lured from the Midwest to Florida. "He had good protection, and he can throw."

Grossman grew up approximately four hours south of here, in Bloomington, Ind., where Bob Knight was king and locals cared more about the bounce pass than the forward pass. But Grossman never took a shine to basketball; he was most fond of football, thanks to strong family inclinations to the sport. Grossman's father, Dan, was a starting quarterback and then a linebacker at Indiana during the early 1970s. His grandfather, Rex, played quarterback, linebacker and kicker at Indiana in the early 1940s and went on to play linebacker and kick for the Baltimore Colts.

So during the winter, when college basketball was all the rage, Grossman paid more attention to bowl games, particularly those involving Florida and Florida State. Then in 1998, seven months before the start of his senior season at Bloomington South High, Grossman and his parents took a spring-break trip to Florida, where in Gainesville the tale of how he became a Gator has become almost legendary.

"That story has a life of its own," Grossman likes to say.

It goes something like this: Grossman and his father, armed with videotape, first visited with then-Gators coach Spurrier. The next stop was Tallahassee and an anticipated meeting with Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles' coach, however, was not in the office. Advantage University of Florida in the recruiting battle, especially considering the Grossmans took a liking to Spurrier almost from the first time they spoke.

Grossman's allegiance to Spurrier was so great that when he found out the coach was leaving for the Redskins -- Grossman and his father were eating at a sports bar during a Bahamas vacation when the news flashed across the television screen -- he seriously considered departing as well to the NFL.

Instead, new coach Ron Zook convinced Grossman to stay, and his final season with the Gators resulted in 3,402 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. Those numbers, plus a wealth of potential, were all the Bears needed to select Grossman with the 22nd overall pick.

"Rex had an outstanding game," Bears Coach Dick Jauron said after his team improved to 7-8. "He handled the huddle, handled the changes that we made at the line of scrimmage and handled the protections and did an outstanding job. The young man is a really good football player, and he's only going to get better."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...