12-13-2011, 02:54 PM
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Cowher to Miami?
Miami Dolphins’ Stephen Ross prefers hiring a star coach
Stephen Ross’ priority is to hire a star coach, and money will not be an impediment, an associate said.
By Barry Jackson
The Dolphins will have plenty of competition in their search for an established coach, with two other teams already looking and several others expected to be in the market for one.
Meanwhile, Bill Cowher — one candidate who has strong appeal to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross — reiterated to CBS colleagues over the weekend that he plans to remain in broadcasting next season, according to a network source.
Cowher said in October, “I do not plan on coaching next year. I love where I work. So I can put all the speculation to rest.”
The Dolphins aren’t convinced that he’s adamant about that and still plan to contact him, according to a source. But a colleague of Cowher said he made clear again this past weekend that he wants to remain in television in 2012.
Sources reiterated that Ross would like to hire a big name, a proven winner who would get fans excited.
“When you’re winning, it’s a lot easier to sell tickets,” Ross said Monday after firing Tony Sparano.
If Ross cannot make a big splash and has to settle for a lower-profile coach, then there is sentiment internally toward hiring an offensive-minded coach with a record of success developing quarterbacks. But the priority is hiring a star coach, regardless of what side of the ball is his specialty. And money will not be an impediment, an associate said.
If Cowher declines Miami’s overtures, Ross is expected to turn his attention to former Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden and former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick. Gruden won a Super Bowl in Tampa, Billick won one in Baltimore and Fisher lost one with Tennessee.
Philadelphia’s Andy Reid would be of interest to the Dolphins if he and the Eagles surprisingly part ways. Giants coach Tom Coughlin also would be on Miami’s radar if the Giants miss the playoffs and fire him.
Gruden, who went 95-81 in 11 years as an NFL coach (four with Oakland, seven with Tampa) signed a contract extension with ESPN earlier this season and told network executives he wants to remain an announcer. An associate said Gruden might listen eventually if approached by a marquee franchise. But “we all believe Jon will stay in broadcasting,” ESPN’s John Clayton said.
Fisher, who went 146-120 in 17 years with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, is expected to be a serious candidate for the Dolphins job. But he might have a more appealing option in San Diego (which has quarterback Phillip Rivers) if the Chargers fire Norv Turner, as expected. Fisher is a Southern California native and former star at USC. ESPN reported that Kansas City also has interest in Fisher.
Billick, 80-64 in nine years with Baltimore before being fired after the 2007 season, intrigues the Dolphins because of his success as a head coach and his offensive mind. Billick was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator when the Vikings set the NFL scoring record in 1998, since broken by New England.
Jacksonville and Kansas City also have coaching openings, and there also could be changes in San Diego, St. Louis, Indianapolis and perhaps others, including Tampa Bay.
Ross hasn’t ruled out hiring a top college coach if he cannot land a “star” current or former NFL coach. One name that likely would fit Ross’ criteria is Les Miles, who is 75-17 in seven years as LSU’s coach.
Miles attended Michigan — Ross’ alma mater — and was offensive line coach there (1987-94). He had one NFL job, as the Cowboys’ tight ends coach from 1998 to 2000.
“Stephen loves anything to do with Michigan,” an associate said about potential interest in Miles.
But any Dolphins interest in Miles or Oregon coach Chip Kelly — who has a sharp offensive mind — would be purely speculative.
If Ross cannot hire a big name, his options among NFL assistants who specialize in offense would include Jets coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Bengals coordinator Jay Gruden (Jon’s brother), Packers coordinator Joe Philbin (who does not call the plays) and Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements. Defensive coordinators who could be considered for NFL openings include Perry Fewell (Giants) and Rob Ryan (Cowboys). But Ross is thinking much bigger than those names.
“Obviously, you’re looking for experience,” said general manager Jeff Ireland, who will work on the search with Ross. “You’re looking for a guy that’s been in the trenches before, a guy who’s a tireless worker. A guy who understands offense and defense.
“... There’s a foundation here. There are obviously things we need to address. I’m not saying it’s a perfect team right now.”
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