Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami Dolphins have fired head coach Tony Sparano Monday afternoon after his team started 0-7 this season and lost two of their last three games recently.
There’s been a lot of distraction and speculation about if Tony would go and what would happen,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. “In the devlopement of the players and the team, this is the time to make a change.”
The news saddened NFL super agent Drew Rosenhaus.
“I am sorry to see Tony Sparano go,” Rosenhaus tweeted. “He is a good football coach and an excellent person. I with him well and know he will be back in the NFL.”
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, who has enjoyed a career renaissance with the Fins this season also felt bad for Sparano.
“Sad and disappointing news on Coach Sparano’s termination,” Bush tweeted. “He’s a great coach and an even better man! He will be greatly missed.”
Sparano’s fate was sealed Monday morning either just before or just after his press conference.
“The final decision was made this morning,” Ross said. “Obviously, he wasn’t very happy about it, but he may been relieved given the pressure he was under.”
The Fins briefly rebounded, but have started to play as badly as they did to start the season in the last two games.
- Click here to see a gallery of Sparano’s time on the sidelines with the Dolphins.
Sparano coached the Dolphins for nearly four years and amassed a record of 29-32 since 2008.
But, the Dolphins haven’t made the playoffs in the last three years and have never been able to establish a true offensive identity for the team.
Sparano’s best success came in his first season with the Dolphins when he led a worst-to-first turnaround and saw the Fins make the playoffs just one season after posting just one win in the 2007 season.
The Miami Dolphins rode the success of the Wildcat, single-wing offense in 2007.
The offense was short-lived as the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the Dolphins in the opening round of the playoffs and laid the foundation on how to beat the Wildcat.
Still, Ross had nothing but praise for Sparano.
“Tony Sparano has been a wonderful person and did a wonderful job with the Miami Dolphins,” Sparano said. “I think Tony gave his full effort. I think the results speak for themselves.”
Sparano’s firing is just the latest coaching failure the Dolphins have had.
Sparano lasted four seasons after replacing Cam Cameron who made it through just one season. Before Cameron, Nick Saban was here for two years before leaving the team after lying about reports he was tied to the University of Alabama.
- Click here for more on the Dolphins coaching history.
Saban took over for Dave Wannstedt, who had several poor drafts that doomed the franchise for years.
The Dolphins have finished in the top ten in scoring in the league just one time since legendary coach Don Shula left the franchise.
This season, the Dolphins ranked 23rd in points when Sparano was fired.
Sparano’s defense was playing very well this season, ranking fifth in the NFL this season.
The Fins’ recent struggles are staggering considering the history of the franchise.
Since the Fins were founded in 1966, the team has only had three straight losing seasons once, from 1966-1969. 2011′s record will cement the Fins’ third straight losing seasons.
The Dolphins have to hope history repeats itself with their next hire. The Fins hired Don Shula after the 1969 season.
- Click here to see a list of potential coaching candidates for the Dolphins.
The poor showings have really hurt the franchise at the ticket office.
“When you’re winning it’s a lot easier to sell tickets,” Ross said. “I think you can see the excitement when we beat Oalkand. I think when you have a winning product; the fans will respond and will take care of the tickets.”
Glazer reported that assistant head coach and defensive back coach Todd Bowles will be the interim head coach for the Fins until the end of the season.
Making Bowles the head coach is strange considering the Dolphins have a coach with head coaching experience, Mike Nolan, as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Bowles has interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past, but has never been a head coach in the National Football League. He played for seven seasons in the NFL as a member of the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.
His time with the Dolphins will serve as an audition and he will be interviewed for the permanent coaching job, according to Ross.
“Todd Bowles will do an outstanding job as the new head coach,” Ross said. “He has the respect of his players and I think he will exert the same amount of passion that Tony had.”
Bowles becomes the latest former Dallas Cowboys member to become a key member of the Miami Dolphins.
When it comes to who may replace Sparano on a full-time basis, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross will reach out to Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher to take over the team.
Cowher will not come unless he gets total control of the team, which seems unlikely. But, the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem isn’t so sure.
“See, I told you that they would go get Cowher,” Haslem told the Palm Beach Post’s Ethan Skolnick.
When general manager Jeff Ireland was asked about the possible replacement for Sparano, he had specific characteristics he would focus on.
“Obviously you’re looking for experience, a guy who has been in the trenches before,” Ireland said. “A tireless worker who understands offense and defense. I know the guy is going to be a football guy.”
Ross elaborated further on the Fins’ pending pursuit of a head coach.
“We’re looking for the best head coach. Jeff is in charge of personnel and I think it’s important that the head coach and the g.m. can work together,” Ross said. “One of the reasons why you do it now is that you want time to talk to people to create the chemistry.”
The Dolphins fiasco in recent years may keep the Fins from landing a big-name coach like Cowher and Fisher.
Instead, the team may have to focus on a top offensive and defensive coordinator as soon as the season ends.
When asked about Ireland, Ross said that he is the team’s general manager and will remain in that position. Ireland expressed regret over how things went down for the Fins.
“We all feel responsibility for what happened today. When you don’t win, you have responsibility in that,” Ireland said. “It’s a difficult day for me, he’s a friend of mine. I’m not happy about being a part of this decision, but it’s a decision that Mr. Ross and I made together.”
Whoever takes over the team may be working with at least a new team president.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins may hire former Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson to take over the role once held by Bill Parcells.
Peterson denied the report to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
“Carl Peterson is a good friend, he works for me, but I haven’t had discussions with him about that,” Ross said Monday evening.
Sparano’s firing came the same day that Todd Haley was fired by the Kansas City Chiefs. Both Sparano and Haley were coaching disciples of Parcells.
As for the future plans of the franchise, Ross had specific things he was searching for to help the team.
“Finding a quarterback is obviously essential,” Sparano said. “Everyone recognizes this isn’t the team was when Jeff, Bill Parcells, and Tony came in and had to rebuild the roster. There are a few changes that need to be made and hopefully we will start winning immediately.”