In short, about the nicest thing anyone can say about Dolphins boss Steve Ross (above) is that his failure to woo Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh — since hired by the Niners — hasn’t been ridiculed nearly as thoroughly as Michigan’s inaction towards the same target. Somewhat embarrassed over the way current Miami head coach Tony Sprano has been made to twist in the wind, Ross plead ignorance about the manner in which NFL news is covered Saturday during a remarkable press conference. From the Miami Herald’s Jeff Darlington :
`Not until after I read the newspapers did I realize the anguish I’d put Tony through,” Ross said. “I’m not familiar with going through this process, but I never thought it would be national news.
“I was a little naive. Looking back, I can tell you I shouldn’t be talking to any coaches, seeking a replacement, until I’ve decided that I needed to make a change.”
The owner also used a roundtable discussion with limited reporters Saturday to announce that he has extended Sparano’s contract by two years. Sparano is now signed through 2013.
Ross spoke at length about the details of a week that has led to public embarrassment for the organization. He said he first met Harbaugh on Monday at Sun Life Stadium on the sideline before the Orange Bowl.
Despite only exchanging pleasantries at that point, Ross later arranged for a Thursday meeting in California, where Harbaugh lives because the owner already had a business trip planned in the state.
Ross suggested to general manager Jeff Ireland that they go meet with Harbaugh, but he never told Sparano. During the meeting, Ross said he began to realize the best fit was not Harbaugh — but instead Sparano.
“[Harbaugh] is an outstanding young man, and I think he’ll be a great NFL head coach,” Ross said. “But when you start hearing him speak, and talking about his plans and how he’d change a team, and when you listen to Tony, knowing the organization we have with the building blocks in place, sometimes you start to think the grass is greener.But that isn’t necessarily the case.”
If we’re to believe Steve Ross, he had no idea a meeting with the most hotly pursued coaching candidate in the professional or amateur ranks would lead to speculation he was, y’know, gonna offer the guy a job. And we’re also supposed to swallow Ross’ story the Dolphins weren’t blown out of the water by San Francisco’s 5-year, $25 million offer. Best of all, Ross would like you to accept the idea that after having conferred with the almost-universally admired Harbaugh, he then decided such a hire wouldn’t represent an upgrade over Sparano. Even Pat Riley thinks this is treating your head coach like garbage.