MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Now that the Miami Dolphins have canned Tony Sparano, the immediate speculation turns to who will become the Dolphins tenth head coach in team history.
The Dolphins promoted Todd Bowles to interim head coach and essentially gets a three-game audition for the head coaching job. Bowles has interviewed for other head coaching jobs, but this is his first stint as the head man. Stephen Ross said Bowles will be interviewed for the permanent position.
Past Bowles there are some big name coaches out there who the Dolphins will definitely take a look at going forward. This is not a complete list, because the complete array of head coaches that will be available won’t be known until the season ends.
Bill Cowher (149-90 overall record): He’s at the top of the list. He’s a Super Bowl winning head coach who built a terrific franchise in Pittsburgh. He wants total control, which will likely preclude him from coming to the Dolphins because owner Stephen Ross made it clear Monday that Jeff Ireland is the team’s general manager going forward.
Jeff Fisher (142-120 overall record): He guided the Tennessee Titans for more than a decade and saw them finish literally just two yards away from Super Bowl championship. He’s a reliable coach who always had his team in the playoff hunt no matter who he had on the team. He would be a significant upgrade, and likely wouldn’t require total control of the team. But he’s in high demand and could be waiting to see if the New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys jobs come open due to his ties to the owners of the respective teams.
Rob Ryan: He’s the current defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. His defense has been abysmal this season, most notably in the latest loss to the New York Giants. He talks a big game, but has yet to really back it up while with the Cowboys. If he came to the Dolphins he would be the second Ryan to coach in the AFC East. His brother Rex is the current coach of the New York Jets.
Todd Bowles: He will get a three-game audition with the Dolphins to end the 2011 season. Fins owner Stephen Ross said that Bowls will get an interview with the team for the permanent head coaching job after the season ends.
Jon Gruden (95-81 overall record): While touted as a quarterback guru, he never developed a good young quarterback. He coached the talent collected by Tony Dungy to a Super Bowl win, but never could recapture that magic. He recently signed a multi-year contract with ESPN to remain on Monday Night Football, which means he’s likely off the market.
There are also other potential candidates who could be available after the season including: St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, if he gets fired. The college coaching ranks could be tapped as well in the form of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who is an annual NFL coaching prospect.
Whoever takes over as the new head coach, he has some big shoes and big expectations to fill.
“We’re looking for the next Don Shula,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said Monday evening.