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Dungy’s done — will Bucs now turn to Parcells?

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tony Dungy transformed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the laughingstock of the NFL into championship contenders, creating lofty expectations that Bill Parcells might get a chance to fulfill.

Dungy was fired by the Bucs on Monday night, and the team is believed to be close to agreeing to terms with Parcells to succeed the winningest coach in franchise history.

The Bucs went 54-42 and made the playoffs four times under Dungy, who led them to the 1999 NFC championship game before gradually losing a grip on his job the past two seasons.

"It's a disappointment," Pro Bowl safety John Lynch said.

"You look upon it in terms of what he meant to our organization and to me, and that's a great deal. As a coach he has brought a tremendous amount of respect to the franchise. More importantly is the contribution he made to a number of players by making them better men. There are few people I admire more than coach Dungy."

The announcement that Dungy wouldn't return for the final year of his contract came hours after a team spokesman said a decision on the coach's future wouldn't be made until after a meeting Tuesday with general manager Rich McKay and the sons of owner Malcolm Glazer.

"It has been a privilege to work with not only Tony Dungy the coach, but Tony Dungy the man," Glazer said. "This has been a most difficult decision. Tony has done great things for our football team and our community."

Dungy was not available for comment. He scheduled a news conference for Tuesday at the team's training facility.

The coach's agent, Ray Anderson, pushed for a quick decision from the Glazer family in order to give Dungy a chance to pursue other vacancies in the NFL.

Indianapolis, Carolina and San Diego also are in the market for coaches.

There has been speculation that McKay's job also could be in jeopardy if Parcells replaces Dungy, but there was no indication Monday night whether the general manager will return.

Dungy sought a contract extension before this season but was rejected by the Glazers — a move that some of Tampa Bay's fiercely loyal players felt was insulting.

The coach ultimately lost his job because an anemic offense prevented the Bucs from getting beyond the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

The Bucs have had three offensive coordinators and three starting quarterbacks the past three seasons. They never finished better than 21st in offense under Dungy, whose defenses routinely ranked among the best in the NFL.

The Bucs went 9-7 this season, overcoming a slow start to earn the final NFC wild-card spot. But losing to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year sealed his fate.