It was the way the organization went about the coaching search that ultimately led to the hiring of Adam Gase.
This was Ross’ second time hiring a head coach since he became the Dolphins’ owner and he said he liked the way the process evolved.
“I felt much more comfortable,” Ross told reporters Saturday following the press conference to introduce Gase as the 12th head coach in Dolphins history. “I wasn’t relying upon third parties. I had a better idea of what I wanted. When it’s thrust upon you the first time — and I hadn’t been an owner that long — you really are looking at the third parties, their advice and all that, and everybody said your success is really based on your instincts and I think I went more with my instincts (this time) and we did it all internally without any outside third parties.
“The staff really worked together. We had a plan. We had a process and it was very thorough and we followed it. And I’m very excited. We talked to some great candidates that we finalized. We had a real variety and I really felt that he was really the best candidate in the long term for the Miami Dolphins.”
Dolphins Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum said team officials made 237 phone calls and spent more than 40 hours doing interviews before offering the position to Gase, the former offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
The Dolphins got a head start in being able to research candidates after making a coaching change in October, although they weren’t able to interview any active coaches during the regular season.
In the end, the Dolphins interviewed seven candidates: Gase, Mike Smith, Mike Shanahan, Teryl Austin, Anthony Lynn, Doug Marrone and Dan Campbell, who finished the 2015 as the team’s interim head coach.
The Dolphins didn’t wait to interview any coach on a playoff team, as had been speculated, and Ross said the reason was simple: The organization knew they had their guy with Gase.
“Like in business, if you find the right guy, why do you want to give the guy a chance for someone else to grab him?” Ross said. “We had done our homework beforehand and once you settle on it, you move on it. I don’t think time really helps you. Time is never on your side. When you decide you find the right guy, you want to move. That’s what we did.”
Ross denied the notion that Gase was his leading candidate before the coaching search went into full effect, but added that Gase grew more appealing the more people the Dolphins asked about him.
“I was looking long term,” Ross said in an interview with The Finsiders. “And my whole thought was, who would best lead us to the Super Bowl? And we talked to a bunch of great, great candidates, including our former coach Dan Campbell, who did a great job. I really respect a lot what he did for the Dolphins in creating that energy that people really loved seeing. But Adam has a lot of the great ingredients. He’s a young guy who’s very passionate, high energy, unbelievable intelligence, well thought of. His peers have a total respect for him, players who have played for him.
“We were very thorough in our research with all these candidates and narrowing it down. We were very fortunate to get Adam. As you know, he’s one name that keeps coming up with all the teams that were interviewing. We had done our homework. So we were in the position that if we found the right guy, we could move fast. You don’t want to take a chance of losing somebody who you think will be the right person. We were fortunate. I’m excited. Hey, I can’t wait to get going.”
Gase was hired six days after the end of the regular season; Joe Philbin’s hiring came 19 days after the end of the 2011 season.
The search this time was led by Ross, Vice Chairman Matt Higgins, President/CEO Tom Garfinkel, Tannenbaum and new general manager Chris Grier, but there were no consultants as there were in 2012.
“I felt much more prepared this time,” Ross told The Finsiders. “Having been through it before and seen what had happened and making the decisions, you learn. Joe Philbin was a great guy. I have a lot of respect for him, but I saw what I belived it would take to win. And I was listening to a lot of people in the past and kind of consultants, if you will. Here, we did it all internally. And the work that was done with Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier, their staffs, Tom Garfinkel, really was outstanding. Therefore, we had a better idea and I felt much more comfortable this time around.
“People always say to me, what did you wrong? Did you go with your instincts in the past? And I didn’t really go with my instincts. And this time I said, I don’t care what it is, I’m going to go with my instincts. Because I’ve been successful and that’s probably one of the areas that I’ve been very, very successful is in hiring people and having the people stay with me and growing and building organizations. I went with my instincts. I feel good about it. But the results will speak for themselves.”
The one concern that has been expressed about Gase is the fact he’s only 37 years old, making him the youngest head coach in the NFL.
For Ross, what mattered most were Gase’s qualifications.
“How old was (Don) Shula when he came in?” Ross asked, referring to the Hall of Fame coach who was 33 when he got his first head-coaching job in the NFL and 40 when he joined the Dolphins in 1970. “OK, so you want to deal with young people who’ve got it. You’re looking for the guy with that ‘it’ factor who can really make it happen, and I think this is that guy who can do that.”