WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the world at large wasn't even aware that Jim Fassel was a candidate for the Washington Redskins coaching job.
By Wednesday, there were fan Web sites calling for him to be fired from the Redskins -- and for Dan Snyder's ouster, too.
Of course, that would be hard to do. The former New York Giants coach is still just a contender, and Snyder owns the team.
With Snyder keeping his selection process well under wraps, rampant speculation has overwhelmed facts in the two-plus weeks since Joe Gibbs stepped down as Redskins coach. The organization hasn't announced the names of any candidates or made any public statements about the search.
"I'm in the dark like everybody else is," said long snapper Ethan Albright, who was chosen Thursday for the Pro Bowl. "Obviously everyone wants to know what's going to happen, and 'Am I part of the plans for next year?' It's unsettling, I guess."
Suspense will only grow.
A person familiar with the selection process, speaking on condition of anonymity because of its secretive nature, told The Associated Press on Thursday "there likely are candidates yet to be interviewed."
The person said New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and possibly New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are on Snyder's radar, even though they won't be available for talks until the Super Bowl is played Feb. 3. That's an eternity in a coaching search.
The person also said Snyder might not wait until the Super Bowl to make a hire, that Fassel remains a strong contender and Redskins assistant Gregg Williams has not been ruled out. Also in the running are two other people known to be interviewed by the owner, Indianapolis defensive coordinator Ron Meeks and Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
The rumor mill hit fever pitch Wednesday evening with multiple media reports that Fassel's hiring was imminent, but the person familiar with the process said such talk was premature. That didn't stop Internet message boards from expressing outrage at Snyder for possibly choosing Fassel over Williams, whom fans see as the best option to maintain stability after a playoff season.
Fassel has met with Snyder three times and is the only out-of-town candidate known to be called back to the owner's home for a follow-up interview. His first two sessions with Snyder were so well-guarded, they weren't revealed until 10 days after the fact.
Williams, by contrast, was an obvious candidate from the start, having been in charge of the Redskins defense for four years. He's the candidate Snyder knows best, yet things remain in limbo despite four meetings between Williams and Snyder about the job.
Meanwhile, Snyder has also been trying to line up top assistants. Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn interviewed Wednesday for the job of offensive coordinator, and the owner is interested in Baltimore's Rex Ryan for the position of defensive coordinator, said the person familiar with the process.
Ryan, however, remains under contract as the Ravens defensive coordinator, so Baltimore would have to grant permission for Snyder to interview him.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved