Saturday, January 8, 2011
Tony Sparano ... You ARE the head coach!
By Tim Graham
I only kissed her, and that's as far as it went.
I didn't inhale.
We did not offer Jim Harbaugh a contract or reach out to Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, left, and general manager Jeff Ireland spoke Saturday at the team's training facility in Davie, Fla.
I've seen enough episodes of "Maury" to know these sorts of declarations rarely hold up.
Tony Sparano said the Dolphins were in "a happy place" after a week of embarrassment and agitation. The Miami Dolphins announced Saturday that they were going to stick with Sparano as their head coach -- and gave him an extension through 2013 -- after a disastrous flirtation with Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and Sparano held a media roundtable in their board room to clear the air and give their side of the story. Much of what they said sounded like spin, but they also debunked some erroneous media reports about their pursuit of Harbaugh.
Ross and Ireland admitted they jetted cross-continent to meet Harbaugh without telling Sparano. Ross said he was na´ve to think he could get away with pursuing Harbaugh -- just like that hidden camera and the hot-to-trot decoy in Maury's green room -- without the nation finding out.
Ross also was emphatic that no one within the Dolphins organization contacted Cowher or Gruden. Within seconds of Ross voicing that contention, Miami Herald reporter Jeff Darlington, who was seated at the media roundtable, tweeted "I have multiple sources who will refute that." NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora also added he had sources that told him the Dolphins did reach out to Cowher and Gruden. Mortensen previously reported the Dolphins had done so.
Perhaps Ross was dealing in semantics. His close friend is former Kansas City Chiefs executive Carl Peterson, who has been an adviser since Ross took over the Dolphins and has helped him in ancillary business endeavors. Peterson technically doesn't hold a position within the Dolphins organization. Or maybe the Dolphins didn't specifically speak with Cowher or Gruden, rather with their agents to gauge their interest level.
But for the sake of discussion, let's assume Ross is being genuine in his assertion the Dolphins didn't contact Gruden or Cowher.
That, to me, would make him look worse.
The Dolphins would have you believe they were going to stick with Sparano or dump him for Harbaugh only. If a team has identified that it needs to upgrade its coach, then why not explore all viable options?
Ross said Peterson wasn't on the flight to see Harbaugh as reported. Ross also explained the meeting he had agreed to and then canceled with former Cleveland Browns and New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini. Ross said Mangini asked to meet about a non-coaching capacity through Dolphins capologist Dawn Aponte, who came from the Browns.
The Dolphins will go through a healing process in the coming months.
They'll need to set aside their differences and get ready to evaluate prospects at the Senior Bowl and then the NFL scouting combine. They'll need to work together through free agency. They'll need to be on the same page at the draft.
The Dolphins fully expect to move past this. But so often these fractured relationships simply don't have a happy ending.