Dolphins the new front-runners for Harbaugh?

Miami Dolphins Head Coach Tony Soprano works the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California on November 28, 2010. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 33-17. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Just when it appeared that the 49ers were the front-runners in the Jim Harbaugh derby, the Dolphins have pulled ahead according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s believed that Miami offered Harbaugh $7-8 million and San Francisco is unwilling to go that high. The 49ers don’t want to get into a bidding war for Harbaugh’s services, so they may drop out of the race entirely.

If the reports are true and the Dolphins have offered Harbaugh $7-8 million a year, it would make him the richest head coach in the NFL. Considering he has zero head coaching experience in the pros, that would make the Miami Dolphins’ brass legally insane.

It appears that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would rather not breathe than bring Tony Sparano back as his head coach. He’s already traveled cross-country to pitch the job to Harbaugh and according to the NFL Network, he offered Jon Gruden $7 million a year as well. (Gruden turned down the offer.)

If these reports are true, then Ross should do the respectable thing and fire Sparano immediately. If he’s going through all of this trouble to replace him, then obviously he doesn’t believe that Sparano is the right fit for the Dolphins. It’s not fair for Sparano or his staff to stay in limbo while Ross runs around the country trying to find their replacements. (Then again, that’s the business, right?)

If Miami does wind up with Harbaugh, Ross better hope that he can work with GM Jeff Ireland. How many times do we see a hotshot college head coach fail in the NFL because he’s overwhelmed from the start? The first-year head coaches who have had success always have two things: a good quarterback and a GM that knows what he’s doing. Recent examples include Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, Atlanta’s Mike Smith and St. Louis’ Steve Spagnuolo. I guarantee you Harbaugh and Smith wouldn’t have had the success they’ve had the past three years if it weren’t for Joe Flacco and Ozzie Newsome, and Matt Ryan and Thomas Dimitroff. And where would Spagnuolo be if it weren’t for Sam Bradford (who was chosen by GM Bill Devaney)?

Granted, it helps that Harbaugh and Smith were NFL assistants at some point too, but Jimmy Johnson did just fine in Dallas and he was a “college coach.” He couldn’t work with Jerry Jones but at the very least, he had Troy Aikman. Jim Harbaugh won’t succeed with Chad Henne, I don’t care how much money the Dolphins throw at him to fix their situation.

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