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Dolphing going back to Cali ... and that's not good

SAN DIEGO -- The Dolphins will work against the Chargers today and afterward we'll see where they stand with a bye week coming next. (Join me for a live blog of the game starting in the comments section at 4 pm eastern.)

In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to why the bye week and, indeed, things that are happening at the highest levels of the Dolphins organization have been affected by club owner Stephen Ross and the plane trip he took to California back in January.

In a column that appears in today's Miami Herald, I make the point that that plane trip to interview then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh -- the last big cross-country trip for the Dolphins until this one to San Diego -- hurt the Dolphins in ways beyond what meets the eye.

Worse, that trip hurt the Dolphins perhaps in ways that cannot be solved.

For example, I report that plane ride absolutely ended the friendship between head coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland. Oh, they used to be friends. Their wives used to be friendly. That is no longer the case now.

I describe their relationship as professional -- which is fine. But it may never again be what it was.

I outline how that plane trip hurt Ross's reputation. Two other owners have told me they dismiss practically anything Ross says based on losing respect for him, in part, because of that plane ride. One says "the lack of sophistication" by Ross in taking that course was embarrassing for the entire NFL ownership community.

It is thus no wonder to me Ross has not been able to convince as many owners as he wanted to place his FanVision devices in their stadiums. Other than the Dolphins, only 11 of the NFL's other 31 teams have put FanVision in their stadiums, according to the device's website.

So that plane ride cost Ross prestige among his peers. It cost him prestige among fans because some now see Ross as a man who cannot close. He went to interview Harbaugh but could not or would not pull the trigger on hiring Harbaugh. What's up with that? Harbaugh went to the 49'ers and their current record is 2-1.

The trip also cost Ross money because he had to give a coach he was thinking of replacing two more guaranteed years on a contract extension and then had to do the same for the general manager.

And, finally, I make the point  that plane ride could affect Ross as he makes a decision on a coaching change either at the bye week or the end of the season or whenever he decides he wants to do it.

Bottom line, that whole plane ride thing start to finish was a loser for the Dolphins.

We'll see if this weekend's plane ride to the West Coast is more fruitful.

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