Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami Dolphins are just now starting their coaching search, but the winningest coach in NFL history has some early advice for the next man to lead the Fins franchise.
“Someone asked me how you were able to coach that long and I said, ‘You gotta win early and often and then you got a chance to keep your job,’” Don Shula told CBS4’s Jim Berry Tuesday.
Shula talked with CBS4 just one day after the Fins fired head coach Tony Sparano. Shula said that he “hates to see or hear about anyone getting fired in the coaching profession,” but also said that he was a good coach who faced a big challenge in Miami.
“I think he’s (Sparano) done some good things,” Shula said. “You don’t know what the talent level here with the Dolphins has been during the time that he was here compared to other teams.”
Shula, who built his teams from strong quarterback play said that only when you have your quarterback will you have success. As to where he would get the quarterback, he said the 2012 Draft could hold some gems at the most important position in the NFL.
“I would certainly see what’s out there coming out of college in the draft,” Shula told CBS4. “I think this is a good year for quarterbacks. Andrew Luck will be long gone, but there’s some other good ones. I think three or four are first-round draft choices.”
Shula’s expertise at the head coaching position was referenced Monday as team president Stephen Ross said he wanted to hire a young Don Shula. The former Fins coach said he wasted no time in getting in touch with Ross after the press conference.
“I called him and said that I’m only 81-years-old. I feel young; I’m only 81,” Shula jokingly said.
As the Dolphins begin their hunt for a new head coach, Shula was asked by Jim Berry about some of the names that have been thrown out. He said former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is a good football coach and questioned how Fisher ever became available in the first place.
Shula also revealed that he’s a fan of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden.
“Yknow Jon, I like the way he handles himself on TV and he’s been a Super Bowl winner,” Shula said. “So he’s been a coach that’s won it; that’s been there and done it. I personally think he’s going to stay in the booth.”
Berry then quizzed Shula about former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher. Shula said that the only question for Cowher is does he want to get back in the hunt.
Cowher is believed to want to have total control of football decisions if he makes a comeback to the sidelines. While some general managers would balk at such a move, Shula said it’s something that coaches should have.
“I would want total control and I wouldn’t take a job that didn’t give me the opportunity to have full control and make the decisions as to who is on the field that will determine winning and losing,” Shula said. “That’s the way I would operate if I was back in the hunt at 81.”
Shula said that the Dolphins simply need to retool the lineup and not undertake a complete rebuilding process because there are some elements to build on.
“I think they’ve got some very good football players on the Dolphins team,” Shula said. “Defensively they’ve demonstrated that they’re a pretty good football team. If they get that leader at the quarterback position, then I think things will really start to fall into place.”