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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Dolphins pursued Jim Harbaugh

By James Walker

With Super Bowl media day underway, it's probably a bad time to provide a tough reminder for Miami Dolphins fans.

However, it is hard to ignore during Super Bowl week that Miami was once very close to landing San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Two years ago, the 49ers and Dolphins were both in serious talks with Harbaugh, who was then the head coach at Stanford. Harbaugh eventually chose San Francisco and took the 49ers to the NFC title game and now a Super Bowl in his first two seasons. Meanwhile, the Dolphins are 13-19 the past two seasons and missed the playoffs both times.

The Dolphins didn't take the best approach with their pursuit. Miami caused a major stir in NFL circles when Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland courted Harbaugh while Tony Sparano was still under contract as the Dolphins' head coach. Essentially, Sparano only had the job if Harbaugh declined. When Harbaugh spurned Miami, many felt the Dolphins got what they deserved.

Miami retained Sparano in 2011 but everyone knew he was a lame-duck coach. The Dolphins didn't respond, started 0-7, and Sparano was eventually fired.

Now, Miami is left to wonder "what if" with Harbaugh in the Super Bowl spotlight.

The Dolphins have rookie head coach Joe Philbin, who appears to be a decent hire. But Philbin hasn't made the immediate impact in Miami that Harbaugh has made for the 49ers.