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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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Tony is a good coach, but he isn't meant to be a HC. Good coaches don't need to rely on his coordinators all the time. He can over ride them and change a play call. He is too conservative to think outside his comfort zone. He doesn't have the vision to see things blowing up until they are in pieces. Mark in To said it best yesterday.

Tony just doesn't have that in him. At this point, if Harbaugh won't come & Cowher won't, we have to make Nolan at least Interim for 2011. There is no way Sparano has any backing, sense of loyalty or committment from Management.

Stop with the Vince Young stuff!!! The guy is garbage and will never be a solid NFL QB (ie. a Playoff QB).

As for Ireland/Harbaugh, it seems like Ross can't decide if he wants to make a change or wants continuity and stability. So this is his way of splitting the baby.... New Coach, same GM, both stable in the Front office, but shaking up the locker room. We'll see if it works

Who knows how true this is:


JS, true, I've been crying for harbaugh since September and I can barely believe we are this close to getting him. Truly excited.

DC, yes his work with QBS and building a program from the down up in short time is what has me most excited about this guy. Not his time as an NFL qb - although it helps. I mean, Jason Garret and Jim Zorn were QBs too but none took a 1 win team full of white punching bags and brought them within a half of playing for the national championship. None of them made Toby Gerhart the best running back in the country. none of them made Andrew Luck the best QB prospect since Manning or some say since Elway.

And we wouldn't be getting a guy that's all burnt out like Cowher either. This guy is young, fresh, and hungry. I still think there's a good shot he goes to SF and if that happens then my tune won't change. I love the guy - he has all the earmarks and a hotter coaching prospect hasn't come out of college since JJ went to the Cowboys in the early 1990s. To me, this is the only guy you can compare Harbaugh to in projecting how college coaches might do in the pros. JJ went to Dalls wanting to turn the entire NFL on its' ear. and did. harbaugh is the same and will. just hope it's in aqua and orange.

good post mark.

Joe S,

Maybe because I want Harbaugh I am being biased somewhat and the fact that I am not confident in anything about Sparano and want him gone I am looking past this. Maybe it's my cut throat nature who knows. I don't think this affects FA at all. Players like playing in nice weather, living in/near Miami, no state tax, and a chance to hypothetically play for a good young coach who has been in their shoes as a player.

The moral of the story should be "do your job and you won't have to worry about losing your job"

Mark in To, grown men don't cry. I think:

"Ive been lobbying for him since September.."

Is more manly.

wow some people need to get in touch with reality its the nfl people its a cut throat business and ross is trying to do what he thinks is best to win on the field so i applaud him for that, you think poor tony is twisting in the wind? please im quite sure ross told him exactly what he was going to do about a coaching search, sparano is not locking himself in a dark bathroom listening to barry manilow believe me and hes gonna get PAID either way and as far as the idiots on espn they would rip miami no matter what like they always do if this same thing was going on in new england they would be praising them saying hey its a business you gotta do what you think is best and so on


Who's the SO-CALLED Dolphins fan? Educate us, which two teams did Shula win the SuperBowl with? Cause if you check your history numnizzles, you'll see he LOST SuperBowl III with the Colts to Joe Namath and the Jets.

So, maybe you need to go back and apologize to all of us and Mando for thinking you were smarter than anyone.

Leave the history to the historians. Or do your research before you post!

Allright guys, time to work, later. Thks Poizen for earlier post

Don Shula didn't win a Super Bowl with baltimore - he won an NFL Championship - the last NFL championshi - Super Bowl 1 was the following year.

Do the math

Harbaugh + Luck = Championship

No Luck = Belicek pre-Brady

Mark, you almost lost me dude. You said, "young fresh and..." If you said articulate we woulda had problems. LOL. That's a politics joke, don't mind me.

It would be an interesting dynamic to have both coach and QB as Michigan QB alumni. Although there would be a bond I have to believe Harbaugh wouldn't be jaded by it and would make the best decisions for the good of the team.

Maybe Harbaugh can "help" Henne by trading him to a team where he has a better chance to play and can make a fresh start. Face it, if somehow Henne is the starter for the Dolphins on opening day 2011 he'll be one bad pass away from getting booed in Miami. The only way he could get back in good graces in Miami would be to play better, a lot better.

Joe S,

Maybe because I want Harbaugh I am being biased somewhat and the fact that I am not confident in anything about Sparano and want him gone I am looking past this. Maybe it's my cut throat nature who knows. I don't think this affects FA at all. Players like playing in nice weather, living in/near Miami, no state tax, and a chance to hypothetically play for a good young coach who has been in their shoes as a player.

The moral of the story should be "do your job and you won't have to worry about losing your job"

Posted by: Andy NJ | January 06, 2011 at 10:46 AM

I agree mostly. I want him gone too & I think any coach can come in & produce like him. Not sure Harbaugh is worth the money. I hope so. If this is the guy we end up with, I'll support him just like I did Tony.

But just like Tony, repeated failures will cost you.

I am one of the biggest fins fans around and will support and root for my team through the thick and thin but is it wrong to say that the last few days have been more exciting and intense that the games have this season?

JS, good point. I just guess I'm getting too Dick Vermeil in my mid 30s. I just want the Dolphins to win and be important again. I don't want my nephews to be laiughed at anymore because they are Dolphins' fans up here (because of me). I've had enough!!! :))

Chris, I can help Henne by smashing a 4x4 across his throwing arm until he can never use it again. Then he can go become something successful.

Ireland is the source of our problems.

bk, not at all, and you'd be absolutely right. More entertaining than 16 weeks of bubble screens, that's for sure.

I was going to let NickM slide. Played that game in Miami, they did. Coach Shula fired as a result. Came in with a big chip on his shoulder.

Sure it sucks that Sporano is in the position he's in. I feel bad for him, but I also understand he's the one MAINLY responsible for his predictament.

Sporano hitched his wagons to Dan Henning. Big mistake turned DEADLY when he refused to recognize and make the necsessary changes. Pretty much the same way he allowed Hennings to not make any halftime adjustments game after game, season after season.

At the end of the third quarter last week, THE END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, the Pats were facing a fourth and short. On THE FIRST PLAY OF THE FOURTH QUARTER we stopped them. Sporano and probably Henning were so unprepared for us getting the ball back, we had to use a time out. 1 PLAY INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER.

I could understand(no I can't) your first season together, or your second, (ahem) or your third.......?????

Henning and Sporano have repeatedly made these sophmoric mistakes their entire tenure here. Their game day performances have been consistantly atrocious.

Armando, I like Sporano but he was, or at least acted oblivious to the "elephant in the room". He then even went as far as defending the "elephant". Ross finally had seen enough.

The situation Ross has put Sporano in is ugy, but it's as much his fault as anyone elses. First and foremost, the NFL is big business. Live by te elephant, die by the elephant.

Now imagine if Harbaugh comes in and trains Henne (and I'm not a Henne fan I been saying to bench him all last year) and corrects his flaws and becomes good not great but good what will that tells us about he current regime or the offense because at least good! I always going to say this TS is not a teacher in the aspect of teaching the QB Running Backs the whole offense in general! I'm telling you guys he is not that type of coach he needs people around him to be successful! Shula COWHER Bilichick they are teachers of the game period!

per pft
"With Harbaugh’s price rising, Josh McDaniels could be 49ers backup plan

Its interesting read. It looks like niners are out since miami is making a push

Vince " I gotta take the wonderlic test twice to get my score up to a 16") Young. No thanks!

I still think that Harbaugh will sign with the 49ers. He will try to pump up their offer as much as possible by letting the Fins meet with him. For the money, I'd rather have a proven NFL coach. Turning around a college program is one thing, but the NFL is totally different. He could take the 49ers to a division title next year--Miami has much bigger hurdles to climb in the Pats and Jets. Also, don't rule out the "family" factor--they may not want to leave California....

Wasn't Miami out yesterday cause the 49'ers were in? Round n round we go LOL

you guys should read this article from san jose mercury. read the comments. Everyone in SF hates the phins. its really funny


You should read the article from san jose mercury news. For some reason I can't post the link. The comments are so funny. Everyone hates the phins because we're taking harbaugh away from them

Boulder, I'd hate us too if I were in SF. To give a gift like Ted Ginn. LOL. It's like getting a ruler for your birthday.

Bernardino also posting the tweet about Harbaugh seen in the MIA airport. Who knows??

DC, be careful, Ted Ginn scored more than Marshall this year, oh and he played special teams well. Just saying. :)

Mark, if that is true it is a HUGE TWEET, meaning it is over and we have him. Save face and keep sparano as OLC. :)

And another thing about Vince Young eveyone saying he sucks! Look at him as a starter wining record! Remember T.O. He sucks he wash up attitude problem but very productive, We need to take chances on these guys, V.Y. Has more talent than Henne and if we go to the draft and get a QB we still have to develop him, so sometimes a change of teams does good to a player so why not take a chance if it doesn't work you release him no guarantee that's all!!


LOL ALoco, I will hate you forever if that come true!!! :)

Poizen, you are right about that. I'll shut up about Ginn!!!

If Harbaugh could "fix" Henne I'm all for it. That would certainly solve a big problem. Just hope Harbaugh isn't going over tape of our QB play in 2010 as a factor in coming to Miami. If so Ross will have to up his offer to 20 mil a year.


MAY /13/1946



I like Orton much better ahan vince young. Not opposed to either tho to compete with Henne.

Why do SF fans, hate the fins. We wanted to give them Parcells!

If Miami does gwt Harbaugh you rule out Vince Young. Vince Young isn't smart enough to play for Harbaugh. Harbaugh went to Michigan went academics mattered, he has even said so when he was spurned by Michigan in their last coaching search. He coached at Stanford where his playbook has 350 plus plays. Think Vince Young can handle a conversation with Harbaugh let alone his playbook.


The niners tried to swoop in in parcels, or at least his opinion, the Phins swoop in and snatch away their hoped of a future HC! I say that's fair.

All the Harbaugh at Miami airport talk is reports from when they played in the Orange Bowl so let's not start popping champagne yet

Are we forgetting that this was the first season in which Ireland had complete control of the roster, and only when Parcells left in September, or whenever it was? The evaluation of Ireland is incomplete at best. I can understand a willingness to give him a chance. I'm not for giving star coaches complete control because we've seen this movie before and it rarely ends well. I'm for keeping the peronnel in place and finding a coach who's willing to work in that infrastructure with Ireland. It's perfectly logical.

MACNABB ............BIRTHDAY.........MAY/13/1942

Joe Schmoe, 11:09AM LOL!!!!

Andy, how do you know about Vince Youngs ability to digest a playbook and his overall intelligence?

yea if Ross is in SF how can they be meeting in miami. If York doesn't put up some serious money to match ross Harbaugh is coming to miami and it sounds like he won't.

GO Phins!! Go Ross!!

I don't care how tacky the three stooges look on a small private jet if they get a good coach for the Dolphins. It's as simple as that. Ross isn't the President of the U.S. going to meet with Iraq or something.

Good Point Justin, However "Was your mother a prostitute" still sticks in my mind. :)

Thank you for clearing up the airport thing Andy

Do you guys think Ireland has the stones to ask Harbaugh if his mamma was a ho?


DD, no. But I do think he'll ask, "how do you know what it takes to be a good QB in this league if you were never a good QB in this league?"

I bet you that if Dez had answered yes, we would have drafted him.

DC, wasn't he a dropped Hail Mary away from a superbowl?

If its true that Stanford's offensive playbook was over 300 plays, there is no way VY could digest that if Harbaugh became the coach.



Harbaugh was a good QB, He played on the colts when they were the laughing stock of the league and their offensive line was even worse than ours... well, maybe...

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