Spurrier May Be Panthers Pick
Tuesday, January 8th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ The owner of the Carolina Panthers wants to put the passion back in his franchise. So he fired coach George Seifert and now has his sights set on someone who can bring some fire into the job.
Could that man be Steve Spurrier?
Jerry Richardson didn't say Monday who he'll try to hire, just that it has to be someone who can rejuvenate the team and the fans following Carolina's dubious year in which the club set an NFL-record with 15 consecutive losses in a season.
``When we go through a situation like we went through this past season, it sucks the energy out of coaches, players, fans,'' Richardson said. ``What we've got to do, beginning today, we've got to start pumping the energy back in.''
Spurrier, who resigned last week as coach at Florida, surely could be the one to do that. Author of one of the most prolific offenses in college football history, Spurrier already has history here.
His parents grew up in Charlotte, and relatives still live here. He spent three years coaching up the road at Duke and even talked briefly with Panthers officials when they were looking for their first head coach.
And of the few fans who showed up Sunday _ a franchise low 21,070 turned out and most were Patriots fans _ some carried signs clamoring for Spurrier before security confiscated them.
Whether it's Spurrier or someone else, Seifert said his successor will have one of the best jobs in the NFL.
``I have no regrets coming back into coaching. The support group here is as great as any place,'' Seifert said. ``This is a great job, and guys should be banging down the doors trying to get this job.''
The 61-year-old Seifert couldn't keep the job because he couldn't figure out how to carry his previous success into Carolina.
He came to Carolina in 1999 after two years in retirement. He had the best winning percentage in league history, going 108-35 in eight years in San Francisco while winning two Super Bowls. That success led Richardson to believe he could spark a Panthers turnaround.
He never could, despite a variety of approaches and a series of bad personnel decisions. His last effort was rebuilding project that went terribly awry as the Panthers won their opener in Minnesota then lost 15 straight, leaving Seifert 16-32 with the team.
``I had to make a number of decisions and in this business that's a requirement,'' Seifert said. ``Some work, some don't and too many of them didn't.''
Part of the problem was that the players had lost faith in Seifert, proven Monday as many took shots at him as they left their season-ending meeting. Seifert conducted the meeting as if he had no idea he would be fired, when in fact discussions between he and Richardson had been ongoing.
Players described Seifert as aloof, a characteristic fans also disliked, and pointed to his steely sideline demeanor. It all proved what most everyone already knew _ the Panthers had given up long before Sunday's 38-6 loss to the New England Patriots.
``If you have a coach who doesn't show any emotion, how are you going to show any?'' defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said. ``How are you going to fight for him when you don't even know if he has any fight in him?''