SBD/December 14, 2011/Franchises

Dolphins Owner Looking To Make A Big Splash With Hiring Of Next Head Coach

Ross is reportedly most interested in trying to hire Bill Cowher as next head coach
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross after firing coach Tony Sparano Monday is now looking to "hire a big name, a proven winner who would get fans excited," according to sources cited by Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. If Ross "cannot make a big splash and has to settle for a lower-profile coach, then there is sentiment internally toward hiring an offensive-minded coach with a record of success developing quarterbacks." But the priority is "hiring a star coach, regardless of what side of the ball is his specialty." And a source said that "money will not be an impediment." One candidate with "strong appeal" to Ross is CBS' Bill Cowher. But a network source said that Cowher "reiterated to CBS colleagues over the weekend that he plans to remain in broadcasting next season." If Cowher "declines Miami’s overtures, Ross is expected to turn his attention" to former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and Fox analyst Brian Billick. Ross also "hasn't ruled out hiring a top college coach if he cannot land a 'star' current or former NFL coach" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Lincoln noted Ross has "not been shy about the fact that he desires a marquee coach at the helm of the Dolphins, and such discussion made Sparano more or less irrelevant as his team struggled in the formidable AFC East -- this will be the Dolphins’ third consecutive losing season, and ticket sales have fallen accordingly." With "most of Ross’s desired candidates occupying TV jobs right now ... he’s got some serious courting to do in the offseason" (WSJ.com, 12/13).

BUSINESS & FOOTBALL: NFL Network's Jamie Dukes said that he "doesn't believe Ross would let [GM Jeff] Ireland's presence deter the team from hiring a coach who insisted on personnel control or wanted to determine his own personnel director." Dukes: "Ross is a businessman first. If someone says, 'I want to bring my own guy in,' you can be rest assured, Ireland's gone." In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes the role of Carl Peterson, Ross' "friend and confidante, also could factor into a coach's decision to accept or refuse the job." Ross and Peterson have said recently that the former Chiefs President "will remain only a hands-off advisor, but not everyone believes that." A former NFL exec said, "Ross is going to have to clear up what's actually going on with Carl Peterson." Dukes said that a coach who "doesn't want the spotlight probably won't be a good fit for Ross." Dukes: "If a coach comes in there and doesn't realize he has to sell tickets, he's a fool. They need a Jon Gruden-type to come in and energize the fan base. These are the considerations Miami has that other markets don't" (PALM BEACH POST, 12/14). NFL.com's Jeff Darlington noted among league circles, it is "widely known that Miami's football operations often didn't see eye-to-eye with the business side." Darlington: "Can Ross convince the right candidates that, if he becomes the coach, he won't have to deal with promotions that encourage alumni of the opposing team's quarterback to attend a Dolphins home game (i.e. Gator Day)?" These are questions that Ross "will need to answer." They are questions, "despite public perception that would understandably suggest otherwise, that he has privately been working to conquer on his own." Team sources said that Ross has "taken a proactive approach in recent months to get to the bottom of Miami's organizational woes" (NFL.com, 12/13).
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