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Ross to make last-minute pitch to Harbaugh

I've seen many strange situations with the Dolphins. I call it the theater of the absurd. This one ranks right up there.

Imagine Dolphins billionaire owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and former Kansas City Chiefs president Carl Peterson on the same private jet pointed toward San Jose, California. All of them are of so vastly disperate backgrounds and experiences. All of them are convinced they are like-minded in their purpose.

And their purpose?

Hiring college whiz kid coach Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford University -- out from under the nose of the San Francisco 49ers.

By offering him around $7 million. At least $7 million.

All this while incumbent coach Tony Sparano, apparently out in the cold despite previous assurances from Ross, waits helplessly  back in South Florida for a fate that seems more likely to include a firiring than a reprieve.

That's how it looks if this ESPN report from late Wednesday is completely accurate.

The report gives me a strange feeling because it shows to what extreme Ross is willing to go to get the coach he clearly has targetted as of 7 o'clock hour (EST) Wednesday to become Miami's next head coach. (That is not a bad thing, by the way, but the timing is intriguing considering his search began Monday.)

Ross would be making his second run at Harbaugh because I have confirmed the Dolphins spoke with Harbaugh already and he wasn't all that impressed with their first pitch. The fact is the Dolphins felt they had other options than Harbaugh after that first, failed pitch because I have confirmed the Dolphins were planning to make a run at Jeff Fisher.

But Fisher is apparently staying at Tennessee -- although not official. Harbaugh, meanwhile, wasn't totally blown away by the San Francisco 49ers in a meeting he had with that team Wednesday. So both sides are giving each other another chance Thursday morning.

This bothers me.

It bothers me because Ross is trying to create a monster. 

Some background: I have confirmed Ross met with Dolphins consultant Bill Parcells over the weekend as my column last Sunday said he would to discuss the state of the team and gain advice on a next move. And a person whose been told some details of that meeting tells me Parcells told Ross the team is capable of getting into the playoffs if he's patient and stays the course for 2011. Ross indicated to Parcells he was going to give both Sparano and Ireland one last year in 2011 to turn the Dolphins into a playoff team.

But on Sunday, the Dolphins got pummeled by the Patriots and, as this ditty said, that seemed to change everything for Ross. Ross decided to keep Ireland but try to upgrade from Sparano.

So where's the monster?

Continuity and change are opposites. Ross is trying to make them brothers.

Ross is effectively trying to put a new coaching head on the remnants of the personnel department body Parcells left him in Ireland. He is trying to match Harbaugh with Ireland. He is trying to make the new coach the face of his franchise and putting him atop a personnel department that gave the Dolphins a 7-9 record in 2010.

Here's a question: How is it Jeff Ireland has been completely spared of review but not Sparano? How is it the coach is up for being replaced because he didn't get enough out of the players, but the general manager who provided the players that didn't deliver gets a vote of confidence?

What about Ireland made Ross tell Bill Cowher -- BILL COWHER! -- "we want you but only if you accept coming with our general manager already in place."

Are you kidding me?

There are, of course, no sure-fire moves. You should remember there has been no Super Bowl winning coach who won another Super Bowl with another organization. But, you should also note that not too many college coaches, which Harbaugh is, have made the successful leap to the NFL lately.

At any rate, Thursday should be interesting.

Ross, Ireland and Peterson will make their pitch to Harbaugh. Ross will offer to throw gobs of money at Harbaugh, certainly more money than either San Francisco or Denver are likely to offer. Ireland may promise to get Harbaugh the type of talent he failed to get Sparano. And all of them will try to Harbaugh a comfort level with a club structure that seems strange perhaps only to me.

Ross is on the line here. He's picked his sword. He has decided to listen to Peterson and not Parcells. He has annointed Ireland while casting down Sparano. And now he has one last hope of luring the attractive coach he covets.

We'll see what happens.


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Follow the money:

SF 4 mil - state tax
Mia 7.5 mil - no state tax

Simple. Regardless of being in the division of Mr. Hoodie, pretty hard to walk away from 4 million. Think about it.

I won't be surprised either way, but if he goes to SF, Ross is really in a bind now that he has stripped Tony S of all his dignity. There is no class in business...alls fair in love and war.

I dunno about any of you, however I dont want a guy who is hesitant on coming here. Yeah the job will be tough, facing our division rivals can get just about 70% of todays NFL coaches fired in 3 years or less. Not saying its an impossible job but the Patriots with Brady are almost unstoppable. If Harbaugh is hesitant then he is not the guy for the job.

There are allways good coaches out there, giving the man 8 mil a year tocome here is not gonna make him coach better. I can see why Tony needs to go, but I can also see why he should stay, he actually wants the job and wants to proove himself. Not that this measures to anything but it should be considered.

Well I hope Ross has consulted with his other owners on this decision. wonder what j lo, marc anthony, fergie, the Williams sisters, and Jimmy buffet think about this move?

DC, yep I understand all of that. It's just the NFL is so high profile I figured Ross would conduct himself better. He closed a lot of doors if this pitch for harbaugh doesnt come to fruition.

VA...this celebs don't give a shyt lol


good post ,remember most fans are dumb by nature ,how can the hyena comes and hijack the whole team and hire every one ?

My God, not only are we embarrassed by miserable play in front of a national audience, now also by the Dolphins administration specially the owner. Let it be known that most in South Florida we have had a good football tradition and have NOTHING TO DO with the kind of people that are presently running this Team.

I would assume that if the meeting goes good today then Tony would be fired as soon as today. I do have mixed feelings on how they are treating him. In a sense I do feel sorry for him but who knows how he has treated his players (Karma is a beeyotch). I really don't care how much Ross pays Harbaugh hey its not my money. I just want the fins to go back to winning and having a shot to make the playoffs. Its obvious to me that the big picture is Ross needs to sell using hotel taxes for stadium upgrades. The only way to do this is to have the community talking about the team again (lost fan base to heat).

VA Dolphan, apparently the Williams'sisters were trying to convince Ross to hire Rafael Nadal as the next HC for the Dolphins. It took a little while but Ross finally made them understand Nadal doesn't really qualify for the job.

NADAL would fill the stadium .

Another minor issue that nobody has addressed, it could very well be that Ross was just simply not impressed with his after season interview with TS, and who really knows what Ireland and Parcells have told Ross, it 'could' be they too expressed some doubts about TS. Either way, once current players AND former players (JT) start speaking out against the coaches methods, it just confirms the coach has lost the locker room, if that wasn't already evident in the last several games of the season.


i said before the pats's game that tuna met ross and TS will stay for another year and armando confirmed that in today's article ,so tuna didn't say any thing very bad about TS .


At first I was on the Harbaugh wagon. But if he is going to give him 7 mil, why not give it to Cowher? He is proven, will win a super bowl. For all of you who say Cowher only won one super bowl, how many are in our showcase the last 15 years? I'm waiting...how many?
Sparano was good for a year, has no killer instinct for the goal line, apparently thinks it's a line your not supposed to cross, and does a great job at it. Maybe he and Mando can walk off into the sunset holding hands.

Why is Mando so against Carl Peterson? Sure, the guy has his up's ('90s) and downs (past decade), but he started turning things around again in KC (as this year can attest). Also, one thing he DID do right in KC is hire the right coaches (Marty Shott, etc.). Does he have the success of Parcells, no. But does he have an understanding of the NFL, absolutely. And since Ross doesn't, he needs someone in his ear guiding him. I have no problem with Peterson doing that.

Aloco....you have no idea what Parcells said. Just because Armando reports something, doesn't mean he had ALL the information...he just gets snippets of what gets leaked out. Some people think sports writers have the complete scoop on everything when often they are as well in the dark about a lot of details.

I think its a good move to try and get Harbaugh. He is a former player with experience in coaching. Unlike former players who coached and showed their inexperience and failed and former players who coached and did well like (Shula) but stuggled in the early years. I think Sparano fudged both the Detroit and Cleveland games. The NE I knew we were going to get beaten with the injuries and all. But to lose to Buf, Cle and Det at home is in excusable. Everyone was saying they know what plays we were doing and did not change anything. He did this to himself. If he would of fired Henning and changed OC he would of probably stayed but loyalty got the best of him. Like they said he won't be on the unemployment line he we be paid well for his services..



0x80, I said after that Pats game it would be hard to retain Sparano (that's how diminished the team looked during that game). I think that was the kicker. Ross saw a major reconstruction project, and doesn't feel Sparano is the guy to get it done. Neither do I. I'm on board with Harbaugh, Cowher, Gruden, Todd Bowles, ANYONE BUT TONY!

keeping listening to this clown Adam Schefter and ESPN...lol

the blog before this one had Schefter/ESPN saying something else..

this is why i cant stand the media.. you can say what you want, regardless if its truth or not. say one thing, and come of as if you are reporting something of vaule and then in matter of hours you are "reporting" the exact oppisite in the same manner. add in the todays world of tweets and blogs, and it spreads like wild fire!

Parcells could have very well leaked positive news about TS to help his friend, put a positive spin on things...still nobody knows the full extent of his conversation with Ross, nor do we know what transpired between Ross and Sparano.

I'm just being the devils advocate, to say don't so readily accept every single thing in print as fact or the whole story.



Agree w DC
After chasing college coach around the country
Ross is humiliating "coach field goal fist pump Sparano"

Cannot see Sparano staying & having ANY RESPECT for Ross now that Ross is trying SO HARD TO REPLACE Sparano

Seems like Sparano will get 3 million and then where does he go?

Quite possibly, a year off

10 million for Gruden??? THANK GOD he declined. What a waste of moula that would of been.

The William's sisters just interviewed their dad for hc. Does that count for the rooney rule?

Marc, I think the loophole for hiring Harbaugh is Sparano is not fired and officially not looking for a coach. So they are not interviewing for the position. Sparano is technically still the coach, so therefore they can talk to anybody and hire them before firing a coach. That is the take I get.


Aloco I don't see how you could possibly know what the final say was, I read everything you did, it was all still very vague, nothing more than a vote of confidence, but nothing definitive. You take things in print way too seriously, much more of what you read is opinion and conjecture, and not so much fact.




This is entertinment, it would be boring without the Dolphins blowing up every year. Hey, why doesn't a billionair come court me, just because I'm a big Viking looking guy, who would say, "Hey Ross, what's in your wallet". There shouldn't be a Rooney Rule, that's what's wrong with this country.

Agree with DC and some others that are saying - could very well be TS was still in a favorable position before the Pats game, (why I don't know after losing pathetically to Clev, Buf, Det), but yes that last game against NE, really showed beyond a shadow of a doubt Sparano had lost the team. Ricky put it best...NE had nothing to play for and played them the toughest they faced all year, and the fins had everything to play for and were flat. The whole game plan seemed robotic, not just Henne, its clear these players were no longer inspired. Its really hard for a whole team to keep believing in the coach when his approach is consistently not working.



Another thing that worries me about Ross's MO, knowing he wanted one of about 5 WHITE coaches, why didn't he in all this time at least satisfy the Rooney Rule??? As it stands he can't even make an offer to any of these guys until he does that. He could have been a bit more organized and got that out of the way by now.

Folks, don't feel too bad for Sparano. This wasn't a blindside. He saw the problems in '08. Does he change his OC in '09, nope, stuck with him. Penny goes out in game 3, do they change things up for a new QB? Nope, ask him to be Penny, which, obviously, he's not. Ok, give them a few games to realize....still waiting....still waiting. Rest of year goes by, now we're 7-9. PERFECT time to change your OC since obviously he's not helping your young QB develop. Does Sparano change anything? Nope. Tells Ireland to improve the defense, hires a new DC, acquires a true #1 WR.

Great, now we can utilize him and help our young QB, right? Do they utilize Marshall correctly this year? Nope. They use him as a decoy and possession receiver. Between Sparano and Ireland, TE never upgraded, RBs never upgraded, line tinkered with constantly and actually DOWN-graded.

Anyone still want to defend Sparano?

Most important thing to resolve: Head Coach. Next on the list. Quarterback.


Feel bad for Sparano? Did ya feel bad for him all season long as he let this franchise fall and fail into irrelevancy and embarrassment? If he's so embarrassed about all this, then he should just resign. But he won't because its all about the money. He quits, he loses lots of it. I have some sympathy for the guy, but I'm not losing sleep over it. He'll have plenty of bank to walk with and find a low level assistanr job somewhere -- exactly what he is qualified to do.
As for Harbaugh, I'm all for the hiring if we can get him and keep Nolan, which I'm sure is part of the deal. The Fins were pathetic offensively, no secret there. So why not go and get an offensive minded, QB oriented coach who will be into staying on for the long haul (unlike Cowher)? Look, this draft and off season is all about a QB (or a few QBs), so who better to find and groom them? Just look at this kid Luck and you know he's been skilled in the finer nuances of the position. I think Harbaugh is the right choice at this point.
As for the comments on Ireland, I'm OK with letting him 'shop for his own groceries' in the coming months. While I can't be sure, I have to believe that Parcells was the trigger man on all of the past three drafts, so I can't fault Ireland. So let's see what he can do this offseason to put together an offensive lineup like the D lineup already in place.
My 2 cents.


And how many super bowls has Sparano brought here? This is a results based industry, other than his first year, we don't have a winning product. I don't get why so many people like armando defend Sparano. I don't like watching sub .500 football from the Dolphins I expect more. I know Harbaugh can do amazing things as a QB and now as a coach. He is better than what we have now.

Thats the plain truth @9:01. Tony simply failed. And even though I don't agree with the way he is being treated now, it goes with the high paying high profile position. That's life. Pay me 3 mil and I'll be content with the whole world criticizing me and laughing at me.

tony sparano apparently didn't give ross too much confidence he could turn the team around during their meeting. i've watched almost every one of tony sparano's press briefings during the season and i didn't have much confidence in the guy when i heard how he answered a lot of the questions, especially those about Henne. it makes you wonder if sparano was a victim of his own inability to put the right people in place on his staff. could henne have been a better qb if they had a better qb coach? i don't know. could the offense have performed better under a different oc? probably. as the season went on sparano should have been holding these people responsible for not getting the job done. then, and only then, he would have looked like he had control of his team.


You're wrong about Carl Peterson starting to turn things around in KC. Scott Pioli has stripped that roster big time in his time there and brought in his kind of people. I believe everyone of their draft choices from this year's draft made the team this year, many having big impacts and then he's brought in guys like Cassel and Jones and some guys on the defence. The success they are having this year has next to nothing to do with Peterson. It was a sad and beaten team that Pioli took over, I think 4-12 or 3-13.


Good Morning fellas,

Another day another dollar.

I hope this gets all of you off Stephen Ross's back. Even if you don't agree with the move. If you think he is just going for the big name, flavor of the month just to sell tickets you are both right and wrong. I honestly beleive this is about winning first because winning brings the fans in the seats and then Ross will have the product on the field he expects to see. Ross has given me a sense of confidence.

I for one might be one of the lone people outside of Dallas who appreciates Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones wants to win and does what he thinks it takes. At the same time he wants his team to be entertaining and the big show. I think Ross is doing the same thing. The big difference is Ross puts the pieces in place and then will step back in the shadows and recruit more halftime shows, celebrities in press boxes and so on. I have no problem with it. He is showing his money and he will spend what it takes to win. In his eyes Harbaugh is it.

Instead of chasing Harbaugh, don't you think it would make sense for Ross to find a hot offensive coordinator,pay less and use the $ to get a QB, etc???

Right now the Dolphins look like amateurs. Totally classless. If you want a new head coach, fire your existing one. Don't try to execute 2 plans at once.

At least Ross didn't listen to Parcells. On the down side, he listened to Carl Peterson. even when you win, you lose!

Sad time to be a Dolphins fan.

@ Palmbeachdoc
You will not be able to get a top flight OC w a lame duck HC, and right now there is not a lamer duck on the pond than TS.

I want Harbaugh in Miami. He will give me confidence that if the pieces are set in place he can do it. He has only done it on the college level but he does it at Stanford. It's not like Stanford gets all blue chip athletes. They have the hardest academic qualifications in all of college football outside of Ivy league schools. And this isn't a guess it's a fact. Harbaugh knows how to win and how to get the most out of his best players. In back to back seasons he had Heismann runner ups and IMO Toby Gerhart should have won last year. He featured Gerhart simply because he was the best player on the team. This year his best player was Andrew Luck and he featured a passing game. His playbook isn't for the Mike Vick and Vince Young's of the world. It has over 350 plays in it. You guys have been crying for a wide open offense. Well with Harbaugh you are sure to get it.


Craig, didn't Peterson get Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe and some of those guys? I know Pioli did a lot recently, but weren't they the finishing touches. They were bad before because there were all these rookies, but I thought Peterson brought a lot of guys now having success to the team.

I could be wrong.

It seems the only recourse if they don't get Harbaugh is to promote Nolan. Just can't see how they go back to TS at this point. TS knows the game well...he fired his ST coach this year for not performing well, he fired his D staff last year for now performing well, he erred in not replacing his OC, he erred in way too much really. He was in over his head. Parcells wanted a couple of 'yes men' when he took over as GM, not any strong minded coaches that would challenge him, and that was his mistake.

tony sparano apparently didn't give ross too much confidence he could turn the team around during their meeting.

Posted by: dm1dophan | January 06, 2011 at 09:05 AM

Could you imagine being in that room? Probably sounded something like this:

Ross: So what happened this year Tony?
TS: Well, ya know, I think it was a combination, you know....of allot of things like, lemme say this, it's been a roller coaster

Ross: What can you do to turn it around?
TS: Well Mr. Ross., I think I can turn it around...I really do. It's easy for me to say I can do this or that, but yes, I can turn it around. Really think I can.

yes, andy, unlike joe robbie before him ross is definitely not afraid to spend to money to make his team a winner. i think ross is serious about winning which, as a Dolphins fan, i am thrilled about. they've made some poor picks with ross as owner but they made some real boo boo's with shula as coach and the robbie's as owners. remember jackie shipp, eric kumerow, sammy smith. they never would have signed someone like dansby; at least not until the end of his carreer like they did with a lot of other players. ross is doing the right thing by pursuing someone who can definitely only make this team better. i say that because, with mike nolan as dc, miami only needs to work on the offensive side of the team. i believe miami could have been in the playoffs this year had they had a coach who understood what they needed to do on offense to move the ball downfield and score points. sparano never gave me any indication that he had that understanding. harbaugh, however, does.

Mando you're the worst reporter. First ESPN of NFL.com says ross met with parcells. You refuted that. Then you said Ross was out of country and got back sunday. Now you say Ross met with parcells last weekend? What bill flew to Europe?
I think you need stop taking whatever meds you're taking. THEY AIN'T WORKING!!

At least if we get Harbaugh we get someone who's pretty darn good at evaluating Quarterbacks. We haven't had someone like that here in a while. Jimmy Johnson couldn't draft anyone with any kind of talent on offense. Wanny boy thought Fiedler and Feeley were the answers. Saban thought Culpepper (INSTEAD OF BREES DARN IT!!) was the answer. Cam Cameron, well, God knows what he was thinking. Trent Green? John Beck? Cleo Lemon?? LOL! And now this regime with Chad Henne and Pat White?? How can Harbaugh do ANY worse than that?

Wow, This is bass ackwards ways of doing business. If Harbaugh falls through we let everyone know our fall back WAS plan B. I find this to be very weird. How could anyone on this team have a sense of loyalty or stability. If people do not have that why would they play their heart out for you?

I am not saying be loyal to Sparano here, but how the media knows so mucha nd how it is getting out is a disaster.

Joe Schmoe, 09:19AM, LOL!!!

There is nothing sparano can do and Ross knows it. If he doesn't like what ross is doing then he can quit but he won't get his 3 million next year. And he has no other options. he'd be out of work next year or a o-line coach somewhere. So he has to wait and if ross still wants him to coach he'll coach and if he's fired fine but he gets he 4 million.

Ross: So what happened this year Tony?
TS: Well, ya know, I think it was a combination, you know....of allot of things like, lemme say this, it's been a roller coaster
yeah, joe, probably sandwiched in between a couple of dis and dat's.

So gents..If we get HardBoiledEgg, who do you think our OC will be?

0x80 @ 9:19. The real issue is, how many do overs do he & ireland get? I mean, firing the D staff. Then the ST staff. Now the o-staff? By doing so, they essentially admit they failed in ALL THREE AREAS of the team.

In 3 years, they have gotten NOTHING right. Except for a few players, ST sucked all 3 years, defense began improvement in 2010 but is not anything spectacular. The offense, regardless of additions every single season, was the worst in the league.

They appear to be inept in assembling a competent squad built to play today's game.
They have absolutely no vision. They are stuck in the 80's. Fire Sparano already. Keeping him hanging like this is embarrassing.

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