Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland sat side-by-side at a desk in front of the Dolphins main meeting room moments ago and announced the firing of coach Tony Sparano and hiring of interim coach Todd Bowles.
Neither Sparano nor Bowles were at the press conference.
First things first, Ross confirmed my report from Sunday that Ireland will remain the general manager going forward. So secure is Ireland that Ross said the next coach must be able to work with Ireland and not have a conflict with Ireland.
Ross spent a lot of time praising Sparano, "who has really been a wonderful person and done a wonderful job with the Miami Dolphins," the owner said. Nonetheless, Ross cited "the best interest of the Miami Dolphins," as the reason for firing Sparano now.
Ross said there has been much "distraction and speculation" regarding whether Sparano would stay or go. "I think in the interest of the football team and the development of this team,' Ross said, "this is the time to make this change."
Ross said the final decision to fire Sparano now came this morning. He said Sparano "wasn't happy about" the decision to fire him now. Having said that, the Dolphins knew long ago that Sparano was likely out at the end of the season and Sunday's 26-10 loss to Philadelphia sealed the coach's fate.
Ross said the Dolphins record is "not indicative of what the team is capable of. The foundation is there to build a winning team."
Ross said Bowles will be interviewed for the head coaching job once his interim time is complete. Bowles, who is black, would help the Dolphins fulfill the NFL's Rooney Rule requirement for filling coaching vacancies.
"I'd like to find a young Don Shula if that's possible," Ross said.
Ross said he has not had conversations with Carl Peterson relative to his friend taking over the Dolphins as an executive vice president of football operations as ESPN report.
It was interesting to me that Ireland was so prominent in this presser. He has not spoken to the media this year -- a fact that has torqued me off quite a bit, as readers of this blog know.
Ireland will be part of the search for the head coach.
"Obviously, you're looking for experience and the best candidate out there," Ireland said. "I want someone who's been in the trenches before -- someone with some of the same qualities I saw in Tony -- a guy who is a tireless worker, a guy who understands both offense and defense."
Ireland had not until today taken responsibility publicly for the 4-9 team that Miami is today. Yes, Ross believes the team is more talented than the record. But, come on! They're 4-9!
"We all feel responsibility for what happened today, we all do," Ireland said. "This is a game of winning and when you don't win, you feel responsible for that. I have responsibility in it. Mr. Ross has responsibility in it. Our players have responsibilty. Ultimately, Tony had the ultimate responsibility."
Ireland said he's "not happy about being part of this decision that Mr. Ross and I made together." But added, he's looking to finding the next coach for the franchise.