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Spagnuolo withdraws, Redskins plot next move in coaching search

WASHINGTON -- With the rising star from the Super Bowl out of the running, the Washington Redskins spent Thursday planning their next move.

Will their new coach be Jim Fassel? Ron Meeks? Steve Mariucci?

Or how about another mystery candidate? After all, owner Dan Snyder has kept the process well under wraps since Joe Gibbs **resigned Jan. 8**. At least two contenders, Fassel and Pete Carroll, weren't known to be on Snyder's list until more than a week after their initial interviews.

And, of course, it was a mystery candidate who got the job four years ago, when Gibbs emerged out of nowhere after Snyder had higher-profile talks with other prospects.

One certainty is that the next Redskins coach will not be New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who withdrew his name from consideration Thursday, citing his desire to remain with the Super Bowl champions.

"His heart is in New York City," Spagnuolo's agent, Bob LaMonte, told The Associated Press. "He loves the ownership. He loves the players. He feels he has to stay there."

The Giants promptly **rewarded Spagnuolo with a three-year, $6 million contract**, making the defensive coordinator one of the highest-paid assistants in the league.

Meanwhile, Snyder spent the day conferring with advisers to consider his options following a month's worth of interviews, a person familiar with the selection process told the AP. A decision could be imminent, or the owner might instead arrange follow-up interviews with one or more candidates, the person said. The owner has said he hopes to have a coach in place by the end of the week.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club has preferred to keep details of its search private.

Spagnuolo became a hot coaching commodity during the Giants' championship run, culminating when his defense stifled the New England Patriots in a 17-14 victory in Sunday's Super Bowl. The 48-year-old coordinator left the Washington area Wednesday night after two days of interviews lasting some 16 hours at Snyder's house, then called Snyder on Thursday morning to withdraw.

"I was happy to have the opportunity to explore that situation," Spagnuolo said in a statement released by the Giants. "But I am equally happy to be staying in New York and look forward to continued success with the Giants."

Spagnuolo has been a coordinator for only one season, and the Giants want to keep him. Also, he wouldn't have had his choice of top assistants with the Redskins because the team already has assembled nearly an entire coaching staff.

Fassel, a former Giants coach, and Meeks, the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator, voiced approval of Snyder's decision to hire Jim Zorn to run the offense and promote Greg Blache to take charge of the defense. Snyder has met several times with Fassel and Meeks.

Mariucci, a former coach of the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, had one interview last week in Arizona, putting him behind Fassel and Meeks on the list of favorites.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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