From Spags to Riches? Not Just Yet for Steve Spagnuolo

Sarah BraunsteinCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2008

If you didn’t know who Steve Spagnuolo was before the Super Bowl, you probably do now.

Often seen crouching on the sidelines, almost as if in prayer, Spagnuolo coached the Giants defense from a rough start to a good season to one of the greatest sports upsets of all time.

Even before the big game, Spags was on the list of potential new head coaches for the Washington Redskins. After the game some noted that he might have knocked Jim Fassel and Ron Meeks down in terms of the favorite to land the job.

But after 16 hours of talks with Redskins ownership, Spagnuolo announced that he was pulling himself out of the running for the job. His agent, Bob Lamonte, told the AP that "his heart is in New York City. He loves the ownership. He loves the players. He feels he has to stay there."

After the way the Giants' season ended, I wouldn’t want to leave either...even if they do play in New Jersey. I think there are three big reasons why Spags made the right choice...


Reason 1: The Washington Redskins job is just not that appealing.

Yes, they made the playoffs, but no one, not even backup QB Todd Collins, would tell you that it was anything short of miraculous. Their star safety Sean Taylor was killed mid-season, their top receiver Santana Moss finished the season ranked 35th in total yards (808), and their starting QB Jason Campbell could not hang tough late in the season. He lost his last four starts before giving way to a dislocated left knee cap on Dec. 6. That Collins (starting for the first time since 1997) led the team to four straight wins says little about how the team will play next season.

Add to that the fact that the Redskins front office already hired offensive coordinator Jim Zorn, promoted Greg Blache to defensive coordinator and re-signed a number of other coaches. Were Spags to come in as head coach he’d have little to no say about his staff.


Reason 2: The Giants will probably give him more money and maybe a promotion.

Assistant Head Coach wouldn’t be a bad title for a second year guy. Neither would the kind of money that kept Jason Garrett from defecting to the Falcons or Ravens (if he was even really considering it at all). The Giants are unlikely to give Spagnuolo that huge of a pay raise (there is, after all, only one Jerry Jones), but a reward for his success and the promise of more to come isn’t a bad deal.

And while Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin will get himself a raise and a contract extension, the man is 61 and isn’t going to coach forever. Both the Cowboys and Seahawks have established head coaches of the future. Coughlin just coached the Giants to a championship, so it's less likely that they’d come right out and name Spagnuolo his successor.

If he truly loves the team as his agent says, there’s no reason not to think he might be first on their list when Coughlin steps down.


Reason 3: He just wasn’t ready.

Despite coaching brilliantly and toppling the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Spagnuolo is still inexperienced in the world of NFL coaching. It’s entirely possible, as the AP reported, that he feels he needs a few more years of experience.

Sure this is a risk—he might never be as hot a commodity as he is right now. (And let me tell you, Spags is so hot right now.) But he also doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of other NFL coaches whose first year failures have tarnished their reputations.

(See Cam Cameron and Bobby Petrino for more information.)

No matter what the reason, I’m sure the Mara family, Tom Coughlin, and the Giants D are happy to have Spags back for at least one more season.
He deserves a lot of credit for the team’s success, and who knows, maybe he just wants to be there at the start of next season to get his ring with the rest of the team.