It would seem Dolphin owner Steven Ross has some cards up his sleeve with the firing of Tony Sparano. The 4-9 record is probably reason enough but there is more behind the scenes and we will be hearing about it in short measure. After Jack Del Rio and Todd Haley were sent packing and with Jim Caldwell and Norv Turner soon to follow, Boss Ross decided he needed to jump in the game before the best coaching candidates were gone. Ross learned his lesson about approaching potential candidates with the ill-fated pursuit of Jim Harbaugh, now he is ready to talk.
For Ross, this is his chance to select a coach of his own liking. Bill Parcells brought in Sparano when Wayne Huizenga handed Parcells the reigns to rebuild the franchise. From the start, it was obvious Parcells and Ross did not meet on common ground. Ross wanted to be more involved with his new toy and Parcells preferred his owner took a backseat and only be involved when the purse strings needed opening. Ross is not the type of man to stand in the shadows while someone else runs his billion-dollar baby. Parcells recognized the warning signs and baled before his legacy would come under scrutiny.
The situation left Tony Sparano in the middle of the crossfire. Failing to hire Harbough was like a thorn stuck in Ross’ heel, his mistake forced him to live with a coach he obviously didn’t want and it was only a matter of time before Sparano would be shown the door. It had to be difficult for Sparano to motivate his team with the axe waiting over his head, but 3 straight losing seasons was enough for Ross. With an opportunity to bring his team back to the playoffs, Sparano led the team to a 0-7 start and sealed his fate.
Ross knows the only way to win back the fans and fill the seats is to field a winning team. Hoping Sparano would find the winning formula was not going to work for a man like Steven Ross because to him, hope is not a plan. The moment Ross took off on the flight across the country to talk to Harbaugh, he’d made up his mind to find another coach for the Dolphins. Jeff Ireland was on that flight, and it was clear whom Ross had chosen to run his football team and the structure of the team going forward.
Parcells had soured Ross on the notion of an all-powerful football Czar as the final voice on the team. The days of a coach having the final say in all decisions is past. It is simply too much for one man to handle and we can see the example in New England. After Belichick’s personnel people moved on to GM positions, the Patriot drafts have not been the quality they had been in previous years. For a GM to be successful, he must have a clear direction when selecting players. Sparano could not find a direction for the Dolphins.
A lot was written about Sparano adapting to the modern NFL, but it is that very indecisiveness that cost him his job. The NFL is at the top of the football world and if a coach has to learn on the job, he is not ready to coach in this league. Tony Sparano was not ready. The experience Sparano gained while coaching the Dolphins could very well be his stepping-stone to other opportunities, but that future will play out somewhere else.
Tony Sparano is a good football coach and he never lost his players when they could have easily packed it in. While many fans felt Sparano deserved another year because of this, it is probably better for him to move on and use this experience to avoid failure when his chance arrives again. Even the fans who wanted to see Sparano gone are not running him out of town as they have many before him. He is a good man and we wish him well, even if it didn’t work out in Miami.
So here’s to you Tony… Your name will not go down with the likes of Wannstedt, Saban or Cameron. Miami will remember a man with pride and dignity, who worked hard and never once succumbed to the pressure of knowing one foot was out the door. As a coach, there is still much to learn, but as a man, there is a lot Tony Sparano can teach each of us.
This is a Dolphinshout out to Tony Sparano!
We wish you well coach!