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The breakdown of the Dolphins coaching seach

The Dolphins are quietly conducting a coaching search.

The club has made no public move to cement the future of their football operations but that does not mean things are stagnant behind the scenes, as ownership has already contacted two potential coaching candidates, according to multiple NFL sources.

The Dolphins in recent days reached out to former Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher to gauge his interest in becoming the coach, according to a source close to Cowher. But the team's conversations with Cowher included a scenario in which he would have final say over the organization but also retain general manager Jeff Ireland and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

Cowher, apparently not comfortable with that setup because he wants autonomy over assistants, personnel and the hiring of a GM, has backed away from the Miami job at this time as a result. He is out of the Miami picture at this moment but that remains a fluid situation.

Another source indicated this morning that the Dolphins have made initial and preliminary contact with Jim Harbaugh's camp and that more conversations are expected in the coming hours and possibly days with the Stanford coach. Harbaugh, who authored Stanford's 12-1 season and their 40-12 defeat of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, has been in South Florida for over a week.

The Dolphins have had no official meetings or talks with Harbaugh per se. But having such discussions is apparently the plan, a source said. The story was first reported by NFL.com.

There is no certainty that Harbaugh will be hired by Miami, however.

He is perhaps the hottest college coach in the nation now and his pro-style offense is appealing to any NFL team looking to upgrade on offense -- a description the Dolphins fit. But that makes Harbaugh a candidate for jobs in San Francisco and Denver and at his alma mater, Michigan.

The 49ers are an apparent quality of life fit because they are 21 miles from Harbaugh's current address. But the 49ers seem intent on completing the hiring of a general manager first so that may hinder their attempt to land Harbaugh.

The Broncos are now guided, in part, by former quaterback John Elway, a Stanford graduate. Like a contingent of Dolphins employees, Elway was also on hand Monday night as Harbaugh's team did its work against Virginia Tech.

Michigan is a fit because Harbaugh played there and was a candidate for the job in 2002. But Harbaugh didn't land the Michigan job that year so his allegiance to the Wolverines may not be as solid as it once was. Ironically, Ross is a Michigan alumnus and major contributor but could be the reason Michigan doesn't land its prized candidate.

Harbaugh seems to fit what Ross apparently is searching for -- a name-coach that promises offensive fireworks that excites fans. But chasing Harbaugh is not without difficulty in that he would also have to agree to work with Ireland and keep Nolan, whom Ross seems intent on keeping at this point.

Two other possibilities are Jeff Fisher and Jon Gruden.

The Tennessee head coach has not been told by owner Bud Adams if he will be retained or fired. If he is fired, Fisher is a respected name that could attract Ross. The situation in Tennessee has no timetable for finding resolution.

Gruden, working for ESPN on their Monday Night Football broadcasts, is perhaps the most expensive candidate on the market. Because he is scheduled to be paid $5 million by Tampa Bay in 2011 and makes approximately $2 million from ESPN, he would be looking for a deal that could exceed $8 million. It is also not known if Gruden would be willing to work with Ireland.

And all the time, the Dolphins are keeping current coach Tony Sparano on hold. It is now clear he is the fall-back position.

While Sparano is still on the job, the team is also conducting a search.

Ownership is seeking what it believes is an upgrade. And failing to find one, will bring Sparano back for his fourth season as Miami's coach. His record in three seasons is 25-23 with a playoff appearance in 2008 and back-to-back 7-9 records the past two seasons.


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Mando, your blog on Ricky Williams was way off and very personal. It is a breathe of fresh air for SOMEONE to tell us what is going on from the inside. And you criticize him for speaking up at the end of the season versus during the season, hypocrisy?

your personally seem to be unhappy with Ricky. I say what he says is true, he is honest and has courage for speaking his mind.

coming from a 30+ year die-hard Dolphan, Mando please stop being protective of the organization and call out what needs to be called out!

Agreed the whole family angle with Harbaugh puts Miami at a real disadvantage. As the article says, his current home is only 21 miles from San Francisco. He'd have to uproot nothing at all.

No changers coming......at best, perhaps Henning goes---but Tony & Ball Boy will never tell him he has to go, and thus OC will not be hired until Gramps sez he's gone.

Ross is being advised by Parcells, who effed him, and Mike Dee, who knows nothing about football.

This Franchise is now officially doomed.

Ross does not care about empty seats--he gets his guaranteed teevee money regardless.


..."the Dolphins are keeping current coach Tony Sparano on hold. It is now clear he is the fall-back position."

How can that be 'clear'? It's ridiculous. He'd be the lamest duck in the NFL. The -- F@#k it we couldn't hire anyone else coach -- in his final contract year. Of course, the players would love playing for a coach with ZERO leverage and confidence from their real boss. Expect a lot of 38-7 efforts in this scenario. Might as well hire Nolan or J-Lo.



Like I've said...

There really aren't any ELITE Coaches available this year.

You don't make a change unless it will be a SIGNIFICANT UPGRADE to your organization.
NONE of these guys are a significant upgrade...

They'll just help sell more tickets during the first two years..

TWO 7 - 9 seasons should not be enough to get you fired.

A change now would be another wonderful example of THE OWNER putting Glitter and glitz IN THE WRONG PLACES.


Gruden is the only guy on that list that I have ZERO interest in.

He would command the highest salary?? For what? Having some of the worst drafts in the NFL during his time with the Bucs (where he was also a .500 coach when all was said and done)

Not saying he doesn't have some skills, but I don;t find a guiy desirable just because I see him on TV a bunch.


Kris hit the nail on the head.... It all falls to the QB....

Mr Ross- PLEASE do not listen to this crowd (other than me).

Wayne listened when they called for Shula's head. How'd that work out?

How'd Jimmy J work out after everyone from Greg Cote to Juan Q. Public demanded him? (hint: not a single division champsionship)

How'd Jimmy's "top" assistant David Pornstache work out??

How did the public's (and Jason Cole's) plea for Nick Saban work out?

After that debacle, how did the public's cry for more offense and Cam Cameron work out? (betcha remember that one)

STEVE ROSS- Give Sparano/Ireland one more year. I'll take 7-9 for two years, but they brought us a division champion 3 years ago which is the same total as ALL of the OTHER COACHES COMBINED their previous 12 years- COACHES THAT THE PUBLIC DEMANDED!!

Be smart. Take an offseason of pain and bitching and moaning. Let Tony get an OC- call Scott Linehan. Trade up for Newton or trade for Orton. Re-sign Ronnie. Draft a speed back. Tell Ricky and his eight kids with eight mommas "to eff off, as well as the horse he rode in on." Again.

For being such a QB guru Gruden sure had a lot of crappy ones on his teams. That's all I've got to say about that.


OK,so the cat is out of the bag now. Sparano, the players, everyone now knows that he's Plan B.

By letting this message out, he's now officially a lame duck if he is retained. What player would instill confidence or commitment to him if FO prefers to find someone else? What quality OC would work for an organization that may make a regime change the following year (and probably him)?

This public notice is just another nail in Sparano's coffin.

Aloco you have a point, but they have let a lot of things out to the media theat they shouldnt for the last 3 years.

Fake: I agree on QB play, but to blame henne is the cart before the horse.

If he had crap loads of time and a good O-coord and sucked I'd agree.

Brady and Manning would not be "Great" with this teams OC philosophy and O-Line.

but to your point they would be better than Henne atm.

0x80, you left some stuff out but good job @ 12:18

The problem is not that they've ignored things. They actually tried to fix the offense, every year with players. They have tried to address Special teams. They have tried to address the o-line, the problem is they have FAILED every time.

If they hadn't gotten to these tasks, I'd cut them slack. The problem is, they devalued the importance of alot of positions & have tried to scrape by with marginal players at almost every position except dline, OLB & CB. They realy tried the oline last year & it failed miserably.

This team, after 3 years, is full of marginal players with the exception of a handful of players.

I enjoy reading most of the posts but the one thing that gets me is the name calling/kicking a guy when he's down stuff. All of the bad names people have come up with for Sparano, the cuban moron who points out how players look all of the time. It's just uncalled for. Sparano is a person, he tried to coach our team and didn't do well but not for lack of trying. Why call him names? It shows an incredible lack of maturity because the mature thing to do would be to thank him for his effort and move on. That's it. Henne is a person. He wants to be an NFL qb but it looks like he doesn't have the proper skill set. He didn't hold a gun to the Dolphins heads and say pick me. He was picked, he tried, he failed, time to move on. Yet some posters act as if he broke into their house, robbed all of their jewelry, and then took a dump on their pillow on the way out. He's a young qb who didn't make it in the NFL, that's it, time to move on. I just don't understand why you would kick a guy when he's down.

Can one of you people who does this explain your rationale to the rest of us? I'm really interested to see why or if you even are aware that you do this.

Matt---what you say about patience has PLENTY of virtue.

Been on the fence with Sparano as there are things I both like/dislike about him. I don;t think he's a great one, but neither do I think he's the unmitigated disaster some of the foaming at the mouth types believe.

I'm OK if they make the switch but also recognize that if the team becomes the type of "fan mentality" franchise that changes course every few years then we will soon be the Florida version of the Washington Redskins.

Harabugh is no Cam Cameron. personally i wasn't all that excited with the Cameron hiring because of his tracke record at Indiana - those teams were horrible. Indiana always a joke program you say?

So was Stanford - and he made it work - to the point that they were a half away from being national champions. They were up big against Oregon - almost won it all.

And he had the good luck of Andrew Luck being on his team? He made his own "luck" literally and figuratively. He found him, recruited him, coached him up, and developed him.

Something Sparano's crew has been unable or unwilling to do with 3 young QBs (Beck, White, and Henne). And I remember a young Henne and that game he came in as a rookie - looked nothing like this guy now - he gunned the ball down the field - showed no fear. he clearly regressed under theese clowns managing the offense and Sparano has to take the heat for that too.

You don't wait to see if something is broken before you fix it - you are the coach, you have the closest view. Rahim Morris in Tampa knew he had an OC that wasn't the right fit for his vision and young QB and removed him in his first season as HC - a year later - he has a very promising young QB and offense - that is vision - that is being a Head Coach - that is how you do it.

You don't wait for your defense to finish in the bottom 3rd in teh league before you amke changes - you don;t wait until your special teams makes you a laughing stock on national tv despite numerous warning shots over the previous 2 years, and you wait until your offense is 30th in points scored and you ruin a young qb (probably) before you address the offense.


I know a lot of you guys are Mallet fans. Tonight is a good night to do a little study as to how he compaires to Andrew Luck. Count how many different throws Mallet has to make out of different formations. Watch his feet. Watch his play action fakes, and if you can see how the linebackers react to said fakes. Watch his accuracy(some here didn't think Luck was very accurate last night. This was in the first quarter. Wouldn't you be a little nervous if you had the same expectations to live up to as Luck) See if Mallet comes to play in the second half,especially if the game is close. This is a lot on Mallets plate. But Luck set the bar high last night


I realize I called the cuban idiot a moron but he doesn't deserve any better. "Flacco looks like big bird", "Henne's neck fat is effecting his brain", "Sparano looks like that...." etc. It's easy picking on peoples looks from behind a computer screen I guess. It also sends HUGE red flags up regarding the way the cuban guy must look. Usually people who are that focused on anothers looks are pretty awful looking themselves.

So Nolan is not even mentioned for the HC position? I would definitely consider him above Sparano.

1. Harbaugh
2. Nolan
3. Cowher

Whatever happens with Sparano, I agree he doesn't deserve any of the personal attacks.

This is a good man. He's not the backstabbing weasel Saban turned out to be, nor has he ever actively disrespected the Dolphins history the way JJ did (before saddling us with Wanny).

Criticize him as a coach, sure, but that doesn't make him less of a good and decent man.

what are you talking about aloco, fill the rest of us in would ya? You're blabbering about 3 million dollars, what's your point?

Denny, nobody is talking murder LOL. Look, it goes with the territory when you take a high profile, high salary position. At mcdonalds you get trained and get a chance to improve, not so in the NFL. In the the high spotlight of the NFL, you have to be able to take the criticisms. Its only American to complain, criticize, mock, ridicule and pester to our hearts content.

With all due respect, what about Nolan's resume as a Head Coach suggests to you he'd be any better at it in Miami?

Sparano has a significantly better W/L percentage as a HC, actually.

Not saying Nolan isn't a damn fine coordinator but I've seen NOTHING that shows he'd be great in the top job. Very different dynamics in that spot.

Mark In To, very valid point a lot of us have tried to make. They can't see things going awry until it already has. They seem incapable of recognizing something falling apart & finding a way to remedy it without blowing it all up. Like the o-line, or the Defense.

This coach & GM have no foresight. They can't see things right in front of them. Either the are procrastinators or they are blind. How can you go into an offseason without any RB's & only 1 QB under contract?

That's about all you need to know.



give me 3 million and i'd be happy if all of you would call me names. we all get called names now for free. it goes with the job. these guys takes the millions;nobody returns the cash. as fans,we get to vent and voice our displeasure.

Dr. Roberts, everybody deserves a 2nd chance, don't you think? If you consider Singletary fared far shorter than Nolan, perhaps it has more to do with the team & talent he had, rather than him? Just a thought.

Here's the body of work of Jim Harbaugh as a Head Coach...pretty impressive...especially the turnaround he did at Stanford.

San Diego Toreros (Pioneer Football League) (2004–2006)
2004 San Diego 7–4 4–1 2nd
2005 San Diego 11–1 4–0 1st
2006 San Diego 11–1 7–0 1st
San Diego: 29–6 15–1
Stanford Cardinal (Pacific-10 Conference) (2007–present)
2007 Stanford 4–8 3–6 T–7th
2008 Stanford 5–7 4–5 T–6th
2009 Stanford 8–5 6–3 T–2nd L Sun
2010 Stanford 12–1 8–1 2nd W Orange †
Stanford: 29–21 21–15
Total: 58–27


It's the mentality of some of these guys. They think it's funny to make fun of a guys name. It just shows the metality of these guys.

0X80, so I'm stupid because I don't agree with you? that's an intelligent comment. I'm simply making the point that teams like Jacksonville, Houston and it appears Cinci and Tennessee are all keeping their coaches. With the exception of Jacksonville they all had worse records than us. Are they stupid too? What makes you think you know more than all these owners and GMs? Why does a team's failing HAVE to fall on the Head Coach? We replaced the DC last year but kept the same HC....instant PROGRESS! Do I want progress? Absolutely!....we get that by changing the OC and some of the parts on offence and maybe adding a couple on defence. Not so stupid!

Harbaugh is a players coach and comes from GREAT FOOTBALL STOCK!

It's in his DNA and has been a winner his whole life.

I sign off on this deal....Ross, make it happen today!

ESPN radio just came out and said they are returning sparano and ireland during a sportscenter news flash on the colin cowherd show. Anyone else listening to that?



0x80 I understand it's the American way. I also understand the American way is being passed by as our once strong nation is quickly becoming irrelevant in the global market. Maybe we should change our ways?

I don't mind the criticisms and complaints. But mocking and ridiculing is unnecessary. It's only become more computer age. It's not as easy to mock and ridicule someone to their face and I bet you any amount of money the people who call other people names on the computer are the most timid people on the streets and would never dare to insult someone for fear of being pummeled.

'since' the computer age.

2-13 or 3-13 2011 if tony is here...
the writing is on the wall

If somebody tells another guy to jump off a bridge & does, would other people follow him because he was dumb enough to jump??

Joe--I'm simply saying that there's NOTHING in Nolan's resume as a HC to suggest he's very good at it.

It's not uncommon. We've seen it all the way back to Arnsparger and as recently as Cameron. Some guys can be really good (even outstanding) as coordinators but don't have the required skills to be effective as a HC.

I'm not qualified to say that is absolutely the case with Nolan, but when he had his shot he didn't accomplish much of anything.

Dr Roberts,

I'll just talk to you. A couple of really good posts lately, bud.




You're wasting your breath.....

dr r.check out mallets qb #'s. off the scale.he could be had by throwing marshall in on draft day or better yet give them langford or starks. you gotta keep coconut at nt, but me thinks he balloons to porko after getting big bux. right aloco.?.lol

Even worse, if the reports about Sparano being a fall back choice are true, what good OC is going to come work here, move his family, forgo other opportunities, etc, to potentially be a one year employee?

cowherds a putz. don't listen to him.

Look...Harbaugh's brother is the HC of the Ravens.

His Father was in football his whole life.

This guy knows football and is an offensive minded guy...for christ sake he was a QB!

I'll take a former QB to run my team any day of the week.


Ross should focus on getting the head man. That is, the head coach. I agree that Nolan has done good work in his one season here. But if retaining Nolan means scaring away a potential upgrade at head coach then Nolan should not be retained. Leave the decisions about a GM and DC up to the new head coach. Hire the best person and put your faith in him. If what is being posted here is true then it appears as though the Dolphins are screwing this situation up. You won't find a top notch candidate with this approach. They'll have to settle same as they did when Huizenga wanted to keep Randy Mueller and Dom Capers. Captain Mike Tomlin wanted no part of that scenario but Lieutenant Cam Cameron was happy to receive a promotion.

With the leagues CBA problems going into next season, Sparano is not going anywhere! It just does not make sense to hire and pay a whole new staff until that Whole CBA thing is cleared up.
Tony will be given his last chance with a new OC/ST coach, and maybe another QB Coach, with another draft to finish out his final year of a 4 year contract.

Craig, never called you stupid, read what I wrote please. I did call Sparano stupid because he has proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt well over 792 times now. And yes, those teams are stupid or cheap for sticking with losers. You play to win the game, accepting mediocrity is so American.

I don't want to be a fan of a team that strives for mediocre.

I don't want to be a fan of a team who hopes for acorns to fall into their laps.

I don't want to be a fan of a team that is not committed to excellence.

So unless Ireland is related some how to Ross, he's the hold up for several possible coaches. There HAS TO BE a reason coaches are reluctant to work with him. Just look at his draft record and FA signings. Aside from a couple of decent moves Dansby, Marshall and Wake, he's pitiful. that's 3 out of what, maybe 100 guys over 3 years?

ALoco money does not equal happiness. I make a modest salary, downright appalling if you compare it to those two salaries, but I'm very happy in my life. I have everything I need and a great family. Having a million dollars would be great but in know way do I believe it would bring me more happiness, just more money.

It's probably pretty hard to find happiness when you work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, 335-345 days a year, and your team still sucks. So you're saying but he's a millionaire he should be happy. Great, so he goes home after going 7-9 and stares at a nicer tv while sitting on a more expensive couch than we do. That should make him happy?

Dr. roberts, what was on Sparano's resume that made him even remotely qualified to be a HC to begin with? It' goes both ways. Most of us never even heard of Sparano. The ONLY reason he exists in the NFL is cause of who his friend is.

Nolan could be good in his 2nd stint as HC, no one knows. Everyone deserves a 2nd chance.

If Harbaugh ends up in SF let's see how he does. That's an interesting franchise that's still missing a QB. I expect they will take Can Newton or Mallett in the draft and the problem is I don't know if anyone of them are going to be any good. Is it coincidence that they have had very little QB play since Montana and Young left?

1. Hire Harbaugh
2. Keep Nolan
3. Draft Mallett
4. Win AFC East

Mallet is interesting, for sure. With any of the college guys, though, it really is a case of only time will tell.

I think Miami almost MUST draft one (and high) but there's no guarantees. Seen too many Shuler's, Leaf's, Akili Smith's, etc. to know it's a real crapshoot.

I honestly don't think Sparano is horrible but needs to be extremely well supported by co-ordinators in all 3 facets in order to be successful.

I'd rather go with a retooling than hire Cowher or Gruden but I just always thought Harbaugh will be an elite coach - has the potential to match wits with Darth Hoody.

does anyone else think gruden is mentally disabled when he speaks during MNF?

Dr. Robert: with all due respect, what about Bellichick's resume as the Browns coach that would justify Kraft to hire him?

What constituted Parcells to promote a line coach to the top HC position?

Just because JJ had a great run in Dallas didn't mean he could do the same here.

Nolan has admitted his mistakes at SF, so that means he learned from them. If Ross is shopping for another HC, I just think Nolan deserves an interview. He would be a smoother transition (keeping the defense intact) while allowing Ireland (whom Ross seems to protect) the chance to rebuild the offense and respective coaching staff.

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