Friday, December 17, 2004
Meeting could come as early as Monday
By Len Pasquarelli
Hall of Fame member Art Shell, the first black head coach in the modern era of the NFL, will interview for the Miami Dolphins' coaching vacancy, ESPN.com has confirmed.
The meeting between Dolphins officials and Shell is expected to take place next week, possibly as early as Monday. Club officials, including owner Wayne Huizenga, met late Tuesday night with Nick Saban. The LSU coach is the front-runner for the job and he is expected to formally be offered the position next week.
ESPN.com reported Friday that, despite reports an offer to Saban was imminent, Miami officials had slowed the pursuit of the LSU coach to provide the franchise time to come into compliance with the so-called "Rooney Rule." One source termed the delay "tapping on the brakes," while another described it as "hitting the pause button."
The "Rooney Rule" stipulates the hiring of a new coach must be a process, with multiple candidates, including minority candidates.
Ignoring those guidelines could result in league sanctions and a seven-figure fine. Detroit Lions president Matt Millen was personally fined $200,000 last year for his actions in the hiring of head coach Steve Mariucci.
Miami officials, most notably lame-duck club president Eddie Jones who will retire in the spring, have publicly stated they will comply with the NFL's hiring policies.
The Dolphins are also expected to interview a current college assistant coach. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on Friday night that coach is University of Miami assistant Randy Shannon. The Hurricanes' defensive coordinator, Shannon, 38, was an assistant coach for the Dolphins from 1998-2000, first as a general defensive aide and then as the linebackers coach.
While he has not been a head coach since 1994, and he has not been an assistant since the 2000 season, Shell is held in very high regard. He has worked in the league office the past three years and this summer was named senior vice president of football operations. It is believed that Shell recently interviewed for a college head coaching job.
League vice president Greg Aiello said Friday that, unlike team employees, who cannot meet with Miami until at least the end of the regular season, Shell was free to interview at any time.
Shell, 58, took over as coach of the Raiders, the team with which he starred at offensive tackle for 15 seasons, four games into the '89 season, replacing Mike Shanahan. In five-plus seasons, Shell posted a 56-41 record and his teams made three playoff appearances. He also served as an assistant coach with the Raiders (1983-94), Kansas City (1995-96) and Atlanta (1997-2000).
One of the most dominant offensive tackles in NFL history, Shell played in 207 games for the Raiders 1968-82 and made eight Pro Bowl appearances. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.