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Spurrier calls timeout to plot strategy


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Spurrier calls timeout to plot strategy


It's no secret why Steve Spurrier jetted back to Florida for some R&R at his Crescent Beach condo instead of staying at the office to fix his broken Redskins. The ball coach needs a timeout.

Spurrier is clearly in reassessment mode because he never dreamed that he could flop this badly in the NFL. When he left the University of Florida to accept a $25 million contract from Daniel Snyder, the Redskins' egomaniacal owner, the idea was for Spurrier to stay five or six years and show that his penchant for offensive wizardry would be just as successful in the big leagues.

Spurrier had no Plan B. It never occurred to him that he might need one.

Thus, the coach who revolutionized the way offense is played in the Southeastern Conference now finds himself possibly having to call a different audible. And he's not sure what to do. This whole losing thing -- a 12-20 record in two seasons with the Redskins -- has thrown him for a loss.

What does a 58-year-old man do when the buttons he keeps pushing only plunge his team into a deeper hole? One of the NFL's most storied franchises has become a bastion of mediocrity on his watch. All those barbs that he once flung at coaches like the Saints' Jim Haslett for working too hard, suggesting that he could win on the NFL stage by putting in less hours, are coming back to haunt Spurrier. Now he is the punch line to jokes.

Not that Spurrier can't take some well-deserved ribbing. No, the problem here isn't whether his skin is tough enough. The dilemma is how to revitalize a coaching career that has never known this kind of a slump.

Since the Redskins' season ended with a 31-7 home loss to the Eagles, their 10th defeat in 12 games, Spurrier has given no indication whether he intends to return for a third year. Snyder says he wants him back. But there are so many things in need of repair, nobody knows how the tight-lipped Spurrier might respond once he emerges from his beach hangout.

Would Snyder change his mind and fire him like every other coach who didn't measure up? Will Spurrier resign and follow the Rick Pitino blueprint back to college?

Therein lies Spurrier's quandary. There is no ideal solution.

He has nothing left to prove in college after winning six SEC titles in 12 years at Florida. And though he loathes the idea of quitting, Spurrier knows Snyder will make a change if he has another losing season in Washington. A quick turnaround figures to be a massive challenge given the players complaining about lack of discipline, and Spurrier likely being forced to make staff changes.

Spurrier entered the NFL thinking it was no big deal to win a division title since "you only have to beat three teams." Well, two of his NFC East rivals are coached by Andy Reid (Eagles) and Bill Parcells (Cowboys). They're 6-0 against Spurrier and won those games by a combined margin of 177-74.

So does the ball coach return to Washington for possibly another humbling year? Does he try another college gig where the resources may never be like at Florida? Or does he start playing full-time golf a lot sooner than he expected?

None are attractive options for a man who ruled the college football world and thought he could rule the NFL.

Failure just wasn't an option. That's why Spurrier needs some time to clear his head.

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