Dolphins owner Stephen Ross signed head coach Tony Sparano to a two-year extension through 2013 on Saturday, ending a bizarre week for the organization.
"To maintain stability for the Miami Dolphins, Head Coach Tony Sparano was given a two-year contract extension today by owner Stephen Ross," the Dolphins announced via their Twitter at noon ET.
Following a 7-9 season that included a 1-7 home record, Sparano, whose original contract ran through 2011, was on the hot seat. The week began with a meeting between Sparano, Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland.http://www.profootballweekly.com/admin/editorial/story/21598/
Then the rumors began to swirl.
The Dolphins reportedly offered Bill Cowher a contract, but he wanted full control of football operations, something Ross would not relinquish, keeping Ireland as GM. Then, Ross and Ireland traveled to California, and sources told PFW they offered Jim Harbaugh a contract worth $8 million per season.
Late Thursday, though, reports surfaced that Ross had decided to retain Sparano. On Friday, Harbaugh signed a contract to coach the 49ers.
During a roundtable with media on Saturday, Ross said, "I told Tony that he was my man. Jeff said you've got the best guy. The problems we have are all fixable." Ross admitted that he shouldn't have talked to Harbaugh unless he had decided to make a change with Sparano. Ross said he never offered Harbaugh a job and recommended that Harbaugh return to Stanford.
"I believe Tony Sparano is the right coach for this football team. I always thought that, and that has never changed," said Ireland.
Sparano said that he received 45-50 encouraging texts throughout the week. He also referenced the now-vacant offensive coordinator position as the team and Dan Henning parted ways. "We're going to open this thing up and try to be more explosive. We're going to hire the best man for the job," said Sparano. The Dolphins finished 30th in the league in scoring this season.
The way we see it
The week ended the way it probably should have started — with the Dolphins showing commitment to Sparano and focusing their efforts on finding a new offensive coordinator. Instead, the trip to California to court Harbaugh likely stained the relationship between Sparano and his two bosses, Ireland and Ross, and it made the club a national joke all week.