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Harbaugh Or Bust For Fins

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MIAMI (CBS4) – For all intents and purposes, the Miami Dolphins will not be coached by Tony Sparano next year barring a miracle. Instead, the Dolphins are going all out to hire current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh originally met with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday to discuss their head coaching opportunity. He was offered around $5 million per season to join the team, according to local media reports, but left the facility without taking the job.

According to Michael Martinez of Scout.com, Harbaugh was hesitant to go to the 49ers due to the inexperience in the current hierarchy of the 49ers franchise.

Seeing an opportunity to pounce, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland, and advisor Carl Peterson made their way to California to interview Harbaugh for the Fins head coaching job.

While Ross and the upper management were on their way to California, other coaches began packing their offices up in preparation for their likely termination if/when Harbaugh takes over the Dolphins.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News reported on his Twitter account that NFL sources told him the Fins were ready to pay Harbaugh more than $8 million per year to hire him. The 49ers refused to go higher than $5 million to land Harbaugh.

If the Fins actually end up paying Harbaugh above $7 million per year, it would make him either the highest paid or one of the highest paid coaches in the National Football League. Currently, Bill Belichick is paid the most, more than $7 million according to NFL sources.

But Harbaugh is running the risk of overplaying his hand. The Fins will likely offer him the job, but there’s still the risk he will decide to stick to the west coast and either stay at Stanford or go to the 49ers. If he continues to delay his decision, the 49ers could move on and go with another coach.

Still, Harbaugh will likely not get a better job offer, at least on the money end, than what the Dolphins are willing to pay him. Plus, he’ll get a ready-made defense that allows him to focus solely on the offense, where he will have to determine who his quarterback will be in 2011.

But, the Fins still have one hurdle to clear before hiring Harbaugh, the Rooney Rule. The rule was put in place to guarantee minorities would be seriously considered for open head coaching and upper management positions. It was named after former Steelers owner, Dan Rooney.

The penalty for violating the Rooney rule is approximately $500,000. Only one team in history has been reprimanded for violating the Rooney rule, the Detroit Lions. The Lions were fined $200,000 for violating the rule, but then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue told teams it would increase to the current amount if any other team violated the rule.

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