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The next candidate

Bucs get 49ers' permission to speak with Mariucci

Posted: Friday February 15, 2002 3:23 PM
  Steve Mariucci Tampa Bay has turned its attention to San Francisco's Steve Mariucci. Elsa/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay's meandering, monthlong search for a head coach headed in yet another direction Friday when the Buccaneers received permission to talk to San Francisco's Steve Mariucci.

The sons of Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer are interested in hiring Mariucci as head coach and general manager, dual responsibilities that haven't been offered to previous candidates.

Mariucci has two years remaining on his contract as San Francisco's head coach, meaning Tampa Bay would have to work out a trade that could involve draft picks, players, cash or a combination of the three.

"We gave Steve permission to go and talk to Tampa Bay because this is an opportunity that is unique," 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said. "If it had just been for a head coaching position, my own personal belief, is that we would not have granted that position."

The Bucs have been without a head coach since firing Tony Dungy on Jan. 14. The need for a general manager is the result of the way the Glazers have conducted for his successor.

Tampa Bay officials had no comment on the latest development, other than to confirm that Joel and Bryan Glazer will meet with Mariucci at an undisclosed location in the next "couple of days."

Mariucci is at least the eighth candidate the Glazers have approached in the past month.

Bill Parcells turned down an offer to come out of retirement, general manager Rich McKay made an unsuccessful bid to lure Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders, and the Glazers vetoed McKay's plan to hire former Baltimore assistant Marvin Lewis last week.

McKay, who also interviewed LSU's Nick Saban, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and former Washington Redskins head coach Norv Turner, was infuriated by the decision to not give the job to Lewis.

The embattled general manager interviewed Thursday for the Atlanta Falcons' GM job, and the Bucs' interest in Mariucci all but assures McKay will not remain with the team.

The Glazers resumed the coaching search this week without input from McKay, meeting with Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, who withdrew his name from consideration the following day.

Joel Glazer contacted the 49ers on Thursday night and Mariucci received permission to talk to the Bucs after meeting Friday with Donahue and 49er owners John and Denise York.

"Steve has done an outstanding job here for us. We would like him to stay as our coach," Donahue said. "I think that Steve's success is going to cause this kind of reaction and interest from other people, both now and in the future."

Donahue said he expects Mariucci to make a decision about his future early next week.

Mariucci, 46, has a 47-36 record, including 2-3 in the postseason, as head coach of the 49ers. They went 12-4 this season, making the playoffs but losing in the first round to the Green Bay Packers.

Notre Dame approached Mariucci last month about becoming head coach of the Fighting Irish.

"I'm going to stay here," he said at the time. "I'm a 49er, and that's that."

The Bucs made the playoffs four of the past five seasons under Dungy, however the Glazers were unhappy with the team's inability to advance beyond the first round the last two years.

 
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