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What you need to know about the Dolphins coach search and other things

The Miami Dolphins coaching search has begun in earnest. The team has already identified multiple "promising" candidates, according to an email letter The Herald obtained first from owner Stephen Ross to season-ticket members.

And now let me tell what I know about this all-important search that will determine the course of the Miami Dolphins for the next few years:

Firstly, Mike Tannenbaum has the full confidence of the owner. He is leading the search and will be part of this organization regardless of what coach is hired.

Secondly, the fate of general manager Dennis Hickey is not decided as of today. Ross and Tannenbaum today are weighing the good and the bad about Hickey. They are doing this as we speak while the two are at the Citrus Bowl, where Michigan is playing Florida.

If you ask me my opinion, the chances are more likely that Hickey is not retained as the GM. But, again, it is not lost on the Dolphins' brass that he is a good man and solid personnel man, so firing him outright is a tough call for Ross.

Now to the coaching search:

Bill Cowher is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach.

Mike Shanahan is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach.

Eric Mangini is not going to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach, despite his history with Tannenbaum at the New York Jets.

Jon Gruden is unlikely to be the next Miami Dolphins head coach. One cannot be as certain about this one because while Gruden has in the past made it clear he wants to remain in the broadcast booth, there's always the small, small chance he changes his mind. If he changes his mind in the coming days, then the Dolphins will consider him. But do not expect this.

Ross said in his letter to fans, first obtained by The Miami Herald, that this search will be "a thorough process" that "will not be constrained by convention in our approach. This search will be thorough and we will take it wherever we need to go."

That means coaches with all sorts of backgrounds will be considered.

Coordinators with no NFL head coaching experience. This opens up the possibilities to men such as Adam Gase, Mike Shula, and Dirk Koetter.

Men who have been NFL head coaches previously but were fired. This opens up the possibilities to men such as Hue Jackson, Todd Haley, Jim Schwartz, Jim Mora, Josh McDaniels, and Chuck Pagano, if indeed he is let go on Monday as reported by multiple media outlets, and Chip Kelly.

Pagano and Kelly are interesting. Assuming Pagano is fired, both he and Kelly had trouble with collaboration within their organizations in Indianapolis and Philadelphia respectively. The Dolphins are aware and that is not going to necessarily eliminate either man.

Finally, there are rumors -- and that is all they are at this point -- that New Orleans coach Sean Payton will make himself available to teams after this season. If that happens, he's gone. There is no way he can make himself available to others and still keep the possibility of walking back into that building and telling his players he's all in.

But because this is so, so complex, and because it involves draft choice compensation for a coach still under contract, the odds of his 1. Agreeing to come to the Dolphins as his top pick, and 2. The Dolphins agreeing to give up a high draft pick for him are very long.