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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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For the record, I want Miami to make a change at HC. I've said it repeatedly.

That comes with a big caveat, however. The worst thing the Dolphins could do is to start running their affairs the way a fan would. Making rash decisions, going nuts in free-agency, and never displaying an ounce of patience when everything doesn't dovetail perfectly.

There is a team that does it that way. They're called the Washington Redskins. And it does NOT work.

Yes, if Ross feels a particular candidate is a definite upgrade (and I believe SOME of them are) then go ahead and make the move. I'll support it.

But I also know this much: If it isn't working in two years a LOT of you will be howling for yet another change. Don't even try to tell me that won't be the case. I've been a Dolphins fan for too long to know it would be.

The Dolphins will NEVER find the kind of sustained success teams like the Pats and Steelers have attained without copying the single most important element they have. And that is stability.

Mark in Toronto, Did they legalize Marijuana in Canada????? Just asking??


I now think it's officially ok to refer to Carig M as stupid! Hope you're reading this Craig M.

It's official make no mistakes about it. Youre extremely stupid my friend! LOL.........

0 x 80 hate to break it to you, but I have met Armando at the airport. The guy is a football fan, not just a reporter looking for blog hits. Whether he grew up a Dolphin fan, probably not, neither did I. But the man has football knowledge. My guess is you have never talked to or met Armando so please dont make generalizations about people you have never met.


Craig M says he's 43yrs old and is from the Dolphins SB era. I was 12 and old enough to remember. If he's 43yrs old he was 6yrs old max in 72 season. At 6yrs old I barely knew what a football was let alone a professional football team.

Yes its official, Craig M is STUPID in all caps! LOL......

CM, no but my friends tell me you can carry stuff if you ahve a card from your doctor.

I am extremely sleepy though.

Finsfan...the way the harbaugh story was leaked this morning it looks like ross is serious about bringing him onboard.

ross wants a "show" every sunday with a high-scoring offense to give the fans plenty to cheer about.

happy fans = $$$$

harbaugh will be our new coach by end of week....guaranteed!

Too bad we can't get Harbaugh as an OC to get Henne coached correctly. I think that is really the problemt the scheme is bad and the direction Henne has been taken is poor. I honestly think he has the tools and he can be sucessful if he is coached properly. I don't think Sparano is the problem.

Fight! Fight! A white and a white! If the white guy wins we all jump in! LOL............

bobbyd, I've heard Armandos radio show...he is a big fan sure, and also a big D'head in my humble opinion, not to mention his puritan religious views are worse that what some of our enemies have in the middle east. And my friend, you are wrong, blog hits are EVERYTHING. Understand business, advertising. Being able to say his blog generated 100k blog hits brings in money to the Herald. You think he is here for fun? You watch how fast he disappears if everyone stopped blogging....

The fact is I have made arguements for keeping Sporano and so has Craig M, over and over. People decide to pick and choose what they want to hear or what they feel. I really could care less how easy our schedule was 3 years ago. We won the AFC East. 14 years of changing head coaches every three years hasn't worked some of you want to change again. STABILITY, all the winning teams have it. You guys that yell for Cowher would never give him 3 years to win, much less 15 fukin years.

DB, like I said, some people can find their wifes dress in the back seat of a rental car and still not believe she is cheating on them. Clinically speaking, its called complete denial, unconditional love, or, plain stupidity.

NH--I like Harbaugh plenty but if his decision comes down to Dolphins or Niners then I think Miami has an uphill climb.

As Mando noted, you can't discount the "quality of life" component. Harbaugh is a young guy with a family that already lives in the Bay Area. He wouldn't even have to call a moving van. Plus, I think most folks see the Niners as a possible quick fix---a team that underachieved and is picking high for a possible QB (maybe even Luck if they could swing a trade).

Much as I hate to say it, the Dolphins are not in an envious negotiating posture given all that.

Would love to be wrong, however.

Bobbyd, lets discuss Armandos football knowledge...he predicted a 10-6 record right before Camerons one and only season started. Sharp guy. He now says we are 5 players away from contending, and here NE whips us silly with their back up team. Yep, Mando knows football.

Thanks Cuban, I feel loved.

Well, I'm pretty sure you put up any of our OWN football predictions over the years and they'd wind up looking pretty embarrassing and/or clueless.

Just saying...

Agreed...just found out that Harbaugh attended Palo Alto high school just across the street from the Stanford stadium....he is a California kid through and through.

bobby, 14 years of changing head coaches isn't the problem. The problem is during those 14 years, we haven't drafted a QB in the 1st-round.


I'm not actually reading suggestions that Harbaugh be Miami's OC, am I?

Ummm, pretty sure he'd say no to that fellas!


We wouldnt have to change HC at an avg of every 3 yrs if we learn to get it right. Those are the consequences of not getting it right. Instability will sustain itself until the CORRECT measures are taken.

You can have the worst hc in the history of the league and law of averages say if you leave in there for 20yrs no matter what he will eventually get you too a playoff game. But what about those other awful 19yrs?

Lastly, 0 x 80 I don't know where you live but I live here and have been a season ticket holder for 15 years. Last night I added it up, $68,000 in tickets, not counting drinks, food, merchandise and all the other extras. If Mr. Ross is worried about keeping me and my $6000.00 yearly payment for Club Seats, he better provide stability, and I have written him and let him know that. Fact is, I'm the guy Ross needs to worry about, not the DirecTV crowd. So should my opinion matter more to Mr. Ross, damn right it should. Without guys like me to shell out the money and go to these games, there is NO Miami Dolphins. Cold Hard Facts

NH, that means if Harbaugh is coach he'll bring Ricky back (Cali boys stick together)!

For those of you discounting the 2008 year, a point was made that we were lucky Tom Brady went down with an injury that year.

Yes indeed. That one player- the QB- on the Patriots goes down. How'd Belicheck do that year? Did he make the playoffs? No.

Can't you see? The QB is what makes the coaching staff. After all we have been thru since the Shula days, why on earth would you not give the BEST COACH WE HAVE HAD SINCE the benefit of one more year?

A choice between SF and Miami will not be determined by quality of life, my friend. It'll be determined by money and how much control and support he's offered. Ross will just have to outbid SF if he really wants Harbaugh.

DB---I agree with that.

That said, I know this fanbase (well, pretty much ANY fanbase) and it doesn't matter who they brought in. If it wasn't working out by Year 2 a lot of 'em would be demanding yet another change.

Doesn't mean I don't want Ross to pull the trigger (I do) just that the fans would never be as patient as would be required by the team itself.

This gang would have wanted Cowher fired multiple times. The fans in Pittsburgh did.

bobbyd, I feel sorry for your bad investment. Unfortunately, your opinion means squat. Ross will sell this team 5 to 10 years out and make a fortune just like Wayne did, even without winning.

Now consider DB @ 2:57

LA - I agree on the quality of life BS...we all know money talks and bullsh*t walks.

If Ross puts together a winning package, Harbaugh will pack the van and head south.

A choice between SF and Miami will not be determined by quality of life, my friend. It'll be determined by money and how much control and support he's offered. Ross will just have to outbid SF if he really wants Harbaugh.

Posted by: LAPhinsPhan | January 04, 2011 at 03:00 PM


Those other factors have plenty to do with it.

Perhaps the single biggest reason Saban left the Fins was because his wife absolutely hated living in South Florida.

Plus, the Niners have made it clear they're ready to spend big on a HC.

Just saying, if it's an "either/or" choice for Harbaugh then Miami couldn;t possibly have a tougher competitor for his services than the Niners given all the dynamics of the situation.

To tell you guys the truth, Im pretty much resigned to the fact that since Joe Robbie we maybe just cursed with a string of clueless owners and we may even be a new ownership or two away from ever being a championship franchise again.

One thing that can not even be debated here is that all of our post glory days woes are tied directly to ownership. Yes, we all have our preferences of what we would like to happen. But again what will really happen is linked directly to ownership.

We can kick, scream, and sling mud into eachothers faces all we like. Still it's ownership making the final decision in the end and all we can do is roll with it! LOL..........

From the final ESPN Power Rankings (Does this suggest the team is headed in the right direction?)

22. Miami Dolphins

Previous rank: 18

My take: Bottom third of the NFL seems appropriate for the Dolphins after several weeks of being overrated in the poll. They went 1-7 at home, with three of those losses coming to teams ranked 24th or worse. Maybe No. 22 still is too generous for the Dolphins.

I disagree 0x80.

I'm thankful to bobby and the other 5 Dolphins fans that go to the games still.

It's also nice for us out-of-towners, I can come in on a Saturday and STILL buy tix to the Sunday game.

Try doing that in DC (there's a 10 year wait list for club seats).

bobby, you still have to admit, falling asleep while your offense is on the field is not what the "football game experience" should be, right? I just want to know what makes you think Sparano will fix that?

He's already said he prefers to run. Prefers smash-mouth football. Prefers bigger, stronger players. What in any of that tells you Sparano wants to have an explosive offense (or even knows how to create one)?

I agree with the stability factor and I too was wanting to see Sparano have at least one more year. But, since it is obvious that he has lost the locker room, he has to go, because there is no respect by the players. Sure, he's a nice coach and the players like him for the most part. But, again there is no dicipline. A good example of that is Wade Philips in Dallas. His players also like him.

I think the reason that Ross is selling Ireland to potential candidates has to do with the money side unfortunately. You gotta remember these guys ie Ireland and Sparano are still under contract. I gotta believe he doesn't want to pay more people than he has to. If that bafoon was under contract for another year. I think he'd be gone just as fast as Tony!

DC---what part of town you in? I lived in Takoma Park for a couple of years.

Used to watch Dolphins games at a place near Chinatown (bunch of Miami fans there)

dr. roberts,

I'm pretty sure I saw Saban's wife in a strip-club when I was down there in '06. Maybe she had too many secrets in FL to stay.

I hear you doc. It's not just SF to worry about. It's also Denver, Michigan and all other teams that have fired their HCs. Basically Harbaugh knows he has all the leverage in the world and he's going to milk it. The question is, how much will Ross and Ireland offer?

DB # 3:06 That sums it up. I keep saying it starts at the top. On the field starts with the GM/HC, but the owner controls who that is. The jury is still out on Ross, his first year he was hands off all football matters. Now that BP is gone, he has his first fire to deal with. We'll see what he does. If he follows in Waynes footsteps, then yes, we could be another owner or two away from getting it together. As things stand, its futile and foolish to even follow this team.


Harbaugh would be the only one I would move on if he said yes. Otherwise I don't mind Sparano staying.

Darlington and Salguero both said Sparano is safe for now, not safe, safe. Armando mentioned last week changing the entire staff and etc would cost more than 24 mil and maybe Ross doesn't want that. But the fact remains that if he is insisting on keeping Ireland and Nolan then he is hedging his bets and if as soon as Sparano stumbles next year, he would be out and Nolan will take over. If that is the scenario that Ross has in his head, then why not just name the guy you have in your own staff. Cowher won't come without throwing total control at him and Gruden is not worth $8 mil! Only coach i'd pay that for is Belichik or a reincarnation of Shula or Lombardi.


dr, I'm in NE (Rhode Island Ave.), right next to Mt. Rainier. But I go past Takoma Park everyday to get to work in Bethesda. You know that area has been taken over by the Spanish, right? And I don't mean the Cuban and Puerto Rican legal kind either.

Matt in NC- You're also forgetting the fact that in 2008 the Patriots went 11-5 as well as we did, and we won the division on a tiebreaker. Are you telling us that NE didn't have a decent QB while they got to 11 wins? I don't buy that argument for a second. I'll take my chances with any coach /QB that gets us to 11-5 every year.

Wow! $68,000 grand Bobby over the last shabby 15yrs? It can be argued who made the wisest investment you or the guy that spent an equal amount at the Dude Ranch!

Neither of you have much too show for it do you? LOL...........

As for Dr. Roberts, please tell me where I called you a coward? CraigM pretends he didn't see me answer him FOUR TIMES & now you are saying I called you something I didn't. Are you guys cousins?

If you're referring to the comment I made to 0x80, about him being a man to answer & you didn't, you take blogging far too seriously. It was said in jest, don't make too much of it. At least you saw something, CraigM is blind.

bobbyd, by supporting the a losing effort, you are promoting it! Think about that. If people are buying season tix win lose or draw, the owner will have no motivation to improve the team.





Our biggest problem in Miami has been that we cant fire the owner. If we Could Wayne Huizenga would have been ousted right along with Wannstadt! LOL...............

I think there is something to the trends involving recycled HC and that they have not won a championship with a follow on team. Couple that with the failed HC experience of those that come back from sitting out and its not a good record. It takes a LOT of dedication and you have to be consumed to succeed in the NFL and when they come back they never seem as hungry and driven.

That being said, IF there is an exception its
Gruden. That man looks like he wants to jump out of his seat to get back on the field!

I wouldnt touch Cowher as he like many stepped away for a break and personal reasons and though he may have the bark, I dont think he has the bite to last.

Also Gruden it the best chance to make something of a QB, he won with Gannon for crying out loud.

Henne + Sparano + Henning = disaster, 2 of those pieces need to change

0x80, Thanks. You displayed the courage that Dr. Roberts did not. You are a noble man.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe | January 04, 2011 at 01:28 PM


OK..fair enough. Not "coward" but still making allusions to "courage?"

C'mon, dude. Not as bad but I wouldn;t call that a very mature response, either (particularly when I'm not even around to answer in the first place!)

If owners could be fired there would be much more credibilty at the top and the requirements for being a team owner would be greatly heightened! LOL...........

DC Dolfan, no I'm certainly not happy. But I saw last year Sporano willing to make the changes necessary to fix our defense. He went outside the organization for a coach with a different philosophy and draft pick the defense. I have zero problem with giving him the opportunity to do the same with the offense this year. What I'm not willing to do is spend my hard earned money to start another 3 year project. I want to see stability and a commitment to long term winning, not short fixes or a one year SuperBowl team and then suk again. Ross has shown me with Ireland we will have that. I'm happy. Do I want to keep Sporano, YES. Will I be upset with Harbaugh, NO. What I don't want is an egotistical maniac like Cow-Head or Gruden coming in here and tearing it all apart. We are heading in the right direction, slowly but still right

Nolan needs to stay for the continued development of the defense I think it can only get better especailly the secondary. But GM, Head Coach, Special Teams and Offensive Position coaches need to go go go. Get gone and never come back.

The Single most important element for a winning FB team is the QB. Without one, you can compete, sometimes and not at others. Brady masks alot of what ails the Patriots. If the D has a bad day then Brady leads ten to 41-38 win. It just means so much to have a good QB and the last 10 years proves thy fact for Miami. That said, you need people capable of picking the correct players and coaching them up on Sundays. The phins in my opinion, fall short on all three counts. They need a new coach and QB to start. Without that it will be another year of mediocrity. The bad teams get better because of their draft status and good to great teams reload. Mediocre teams become stagnant because they are neither good enough to reload or bad enough to garner high picks. They have to be aggressive and bold. Ireland and Sparano have proven to be neither.

DC---played some punk shows in Mt. Ranier back in the day. The bass is hung up now, alas.

Yeah, I really liked Takoma Park but certainly there's a gang problem there (Salvadorans mostly, I believe)

Got Irish nitwits around me here in Philly, though, lol.


I think Wannstedt/Fiedler gave us an 11-5 a few years back-- you can have it...




Usually when teams become mired in decades of medi0crity the common denominator is always ownership. No doubt about it, cant even be argued! LOL.....................

It occurs to me that we're spending a LOT of Stephen Ross's money.

Not saying he shouldn't make the move, but I think any of us would have to take a deep breath in the same situation.

Dr., like I said, it was said in jest. It was originally a question for you. You left so I asked everyone. X answered so I made a silly retort. Don't make too much of it.

The only person here who I don't like is Craigm. He pretends he wins arguments with people by pretending you don't answer his questions. So he whines, pisses & moans about how you don't answer him to try make you look stupid.

Go back to the "miami is a loooong way off" blog & go to page 13 to see how delusional the man is. He asked me 4 times to answer him & I answered him 4 times LOL

He either is retarded or has serious vision problems. Please don't become like him.

I'll accept your explanation.

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