- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2008

THE FINAL FOUR

From an original list of 10 candidates to succeed the retired Joe Gibbs, the nearly monthlong process has produced four finalists. Here’s a quick look at the four men who could be the next coach of the Washington Redskins:

STEVE SPAGNUOLO

48, New York Giants defensive coordinator

Why he’ll be hired: After his defense keyed the Giants’ huge upset of the three-time champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, Spagnuolo became the toast of the NFL. He has coached in the NFC East against the Redskins for nine years and knows their personnel.

Why he won’t be hired: Spagnuolo isn’t the kind of big name that Snyder prefers and he has only been a coordinator for a year. Spagnuolo might decide to stay put and become Tom Coughlin’s heir apparent when the Giants’ coach steps down, perhaps after the 2010 season.

Chance he’s the coach: 40 percent.

JIM FASSEL

58, Former Giants coach/Westwood One analyst

Why he’ll be hired: Fassel was the front-runner once former Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams fell out of favor until Spagnuolo’s late emergence. The offensive specialist made the playoffs three times and the Super Bowl once in seven years with the Giants (60-56-1).

Why he won’t be hired: Fassel’s last coaching job as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens was a disaster. The Giants fired him after the players took advantage of his nice guy ways, leading to the hiring of taskmaster Coughlin. Redskins fans hate this choice.

Chance he’s the coach: 30 percent.

STEVE MARIUCCI

52, Former San Francisco and Detroit coach/NFL Network host

Why he’ll be hired: “Mooch” was 60-43 with the 49ers even though the salary cap gutted the roster halfway through his six seasons. He’s an offensive guy with ties to new coordinators Jim Zorn and Greg Blache and front office boss Vinny Cerrato.

Why he won’t be hired: The ever-inept Lions fired Mariucci with five games left in 2005 and a 15-28 record. He and Cerrato weren’t so close that he fought to keep the latter on when the 49ers front office broke up in 1998. Mariucci was just 3-4 in the playoffs.

Chance he’s the coach: 20 percent.

RON MEEKS

53, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator

Why he’ll be hired: Meeks, the only minority candidate and a Redskins assistant in 2000, would be an olive branch to the players, most of whom were angered by Williams’ ouster. Meeks won a ring in 2006 and reached the Super Bowl with Atlanta in 1998.

Why he won’t be hired: Despite five playoff berths and a Super Bowl title in six years with Indianapolis, Meeks hasn’t been widely viewed as a head coach in waiting because coach Tony Dungy is seen as the defensive architect and because the Colts are an offensive-driven team.

Chance he’s the coach: 10 percent.

— David Elfin

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