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Andy Cohen: The Search Had To Start Right Away

Posted Dec 12, 2011

It had to happen now. It only makes sense. The Dolphins are looking for a new head football coach and it was imperative to start the search right away. Today. Now. Immediately.

To keep Tony Sparano around until the end of the season, when the decision to let him go was already made, wouldn’t have been fair to Sparano and wouldn’t have been prudent for the process that must now unfold.

The Dolphins needed a new direction, a new on-the-field leader. There is a commitment to find the best possible person. To ask Sparano to endure the next three games, amid the rumors and uncertainty, would have been counterproductive for everyone involved.

First, let’s talk about Sparano. He is a good man, a good football coach, a decent person. He didn’t always agree with what I wrote, but he was fair and dedicated and passionate and did everything within his power to bring a consistent winner to the Dolphins. For all of those things, he will be missed.

But as he said many times, and as his mentor Bill Parcells often said as well: “You are what your record says you are.”

And the record says that Tony Sparano simply did not help produce enough victories. I could sense by Sparano’s demeanor that he knew what was coming, that he understood the bottom line world in which he lived. He’ll be fine. He’ll be a better coach because of this experience.

But Stephen Ross inherited Sparano. He deserves a chance to hire his own man to lead this franchise. And that search started the moment Sparano was told of his fate. This is good. This is promising. There will be, I’m sure, many head coaching vacancies in the NFL this off season. There is already one in Kansas City as Todd Haley was also fired on Monday.

The Dolphins are now getting a head start. This is good. This is important. You hear all sorts of names mentioned and there are certainly some big-name alternatives out there as well as some young coaches filled with ideas and promise. But it is foolish, at this early date, to start guessing and projecting.

Stephen Ross has a reputation of doing things the right way. First class. Thorough. Objective. All out. I expect that the coaching search he and Jeff Ireland are conducting will be another clear indication of this. I expect all sorts of names to come up in the coming weeks. The interviews, I’m sure, will be well documented.

Know this: Whomever Ross and Ireland hire will be taking over a football team that truthfully is not that far away. The nucleus of a winner is intact. The defense has a chance to be outstanding for years to come. There are some quality playmakers on offense. There is youth. There is experience. This is not a team in need of a major overhaul. You look at teams all the time who go from a losing record to the playoffs. It is common. It is almost expected every season.

Hire the right person, fill in the right roles, bring in the right philosophy, and things can happen in a hurry.

Sure, some important pieces are needed.

I’ve been screaming for this franchise to draft a quarterback in the first round for more than a decade. I’ve got a feeling that is the direction they are heading. Matt Moore has done a nice job replacing Chad Henne. He shows promise. But to succeed in this league, you a need a difference-maker at the most important position. Stephen Ross knows this. So does Jeff Ireland. So will the new head coach, I am sure.

Todd Bowles takes over for Sparano for the final three games of this season. He is also a good man and has served as the assistant head coach of this team. I’m sure he will be included in the interview process. Bowles understands the nature of the business he is in. He didn’t apply for this job, but I’m sure he will do everything within his power to make the most of it.

Stephen Ross will be the first to tell you that losing is unacceptable. The move he made on Monday, as difficult as it was, was just another example of that.

Yes, it had to be done. It had to be right way. It’s never easy to make a change, let alone with three games left in the season. But if the Dolphins are going to hire the right person, the best person to lead this franchise back into the playoffs, then there was no time to waste.

The search has begun. It is a new day for the Miami Dolphins.
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