SBD/January 7, 2011/Franchises

Dolphins Opt To Retain Coach Sparano After Harbaugh Flirtation

Dolphins keeping Sparano,
likely to make staff changes
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano "has been retained for another season as the team's head coach," according to sources cited by Jeff Darlington of the MIAMI HERALD. The Dolphins "did not officially announce the decision" to retain Sparano, and the reported move came after team Owner Stephen Ross interviewed Stanford Univ. coach Jim Harbaugh for the position. Darlington writes, "Whatever sparked the decision -- whether money, lack of interest on Harbaugh's part or a simple gut feeling from Ross -- the team now will have to do some damage control as it regains its footing after a bizarre few days." The Dolphins "now will move forward with efforts to implement the strategy discussed" during a meeting Monday between Sparano and Ross, and that strategy "will include plenty of staff changes" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/7). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin reports Ross "reached out to Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden and flew across the country in the middle of the night to lobby" Harbaugh to take the job. The Dolphins "reportedly were offering to make Harbaugh one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, giving him a salary comparable to" Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who makes $7.5M annually. Sparano "met with Ross and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee for three hours Monday essentially to re-interview for his job, and was left in limbo until Thursday night" (PALM BEACH POST, 1/7). ESPN.com's Tim Graham wrote under the header, "Dolphins Humiliate Sparano, Then Keep Him." Sparano's relationships with Ross and GM Jeff Ireland "have been damaged and must be repaired" after they "embarrassed Sparano." Graham: "What has transpired over the past 72 hours has made the Dolphins a laughingstock" (ESPN.com, 1/6). ESPN's Adam Schefter: "Lots of questions about the way the Dolphins handled this situation, and they're drawing criticism around the league" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/7).

NOT A SEXY HIRE: The Cowboys Thursday hired interim coach Jason Garrett, and in Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes though Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones made "the right decision," he "was left to face the biggest sales job of his 22 years as Cowboys owner." Garrett "seems the right man for the job," but it is "not the sexiest hire to Cowboys fans who have been drooling over the image of a Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden walking the Dallas sideline." Cowlishaw: "The fact that the Garrett hire is the most logical way to go doesn't sell tickets. Thus, we get back to Jerry's biggest sales job." Cowboys Stadium has been open for two seasons now, and "for thousands of curious fans, that novelty aspect has faded" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/7). Jones Thursday said Garrett "will have the final say on any person that leaves the coaching staff or comes to the coaching staff," and there "won't be a player on this team that Jason doesn't want on this team." Jones: "I wanted to make sure our fans knew the extent of his power, the extent of his ability to do the kinds of things that traditionally we would frankly like for the coach to be able to do" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/7).

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