It’s the curious case of the Miami Dolphins coaching search part two.
Last season, the team made no secret it wanted to make a big change and hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh. He said no and went on to take the San Francisco 49ers job. The Fins also inquired about some other big names but got shot down right away.
Now, let’s fast forward to the current search for a head coach. This time, things are more interesting because the job is actually vacant after the team fired Tony Sparano last month. Yet, they still seem to be getting nowhere with the so-called big names that are available. I keep asking myself why? Why is no one with serious credentials interested in taking this job? After looking at it over and over, I keep going back to one reason: Stephen Ross.
It’s become pretty clear that no established coach wants to come even close to having to deal with the mess that Ross has created. The Dolphins owner botched the Harbaugh chase last year by secretly getting on a plane with his general manager to fly cross-country to woo a new coach. All of this while his current coach was back home hearing about it on the news.
Then, Ross turned around and held a bizarre media session where he tried to explain what he was thinking. All of this while Sparano and GM Jeff Ireland sat next to him in the most uncomfortable of settings. I was in the room that day, and I remember the tension and awkwardness in the air.
It didn’t stop Ross from keeping Sparano and having to withstand a 0-7 start to the 2011 season. He then turned around and fired the coach with 3 games left, even though Miami seemed to finally start playing some good football. Oh, but the mess was far from over.
He decided to keep Ireland as GM and have him head the current coaching search, but now, he has his good friend and former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson helping in the interview process. All the while, the team maintains Peterson is not even a Dolphins employee. Are you catching the drift here? This organization is a mess!
Many fans are quick to blame Ireland, but I’m not that quick to say he’s the one to blame. This was the first year he had final say on personnel moves, and I can’t say he did a poor job. His relationship with Sparano was ice cold in the end, but it’s hard to blame him for getting on that plane with Ross. What would you have done if your boss asked the same? Again, he’s not without some faults (not drafting a QB last season), but I don’t think he’s what’s truly wrong with this franchise.
It all starts and ends with Ross. I remember him telling the media that day after the Harbaugh debacle that he’s new to this whole ownership thing. He said he’s learning as he goes. Well, he better learn quickly, because I wouldn’t expect Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or any other veteran head coach to take this job right now. Why? Because this team is a mess and Ross has made it that way.