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Cowher to Dolphins? Both parties should tread carefully

The Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross are at it again, reportedly reaching out to people close to former NFL head coach Bill Cowher to gauge the ex-Steeler coach's interest in coming to Miami. Tony Sparano is currently the Dolphins' coach and Ross drew much criticism in the offseason for his interest in Jim Harbaugh while Sparano was still in place. If you're Cowher, do you tread carefully with Ross, or is this simply part of how the process goes?

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  • Jeff Darlington
  • Ross' naivety gets him in trouble

Of all the bizarre and embarrassing acts committed by the Dolphins' ownership, this one would take things to another level. No longer would owner Stephen Ross' actions be a result of new-ownership naivety, which I'm convinced was the reason he flew to California in January to court Jim Harbaugh. It would instead be a malicious and immoral business practice, since Ross now knows better than to approach a courtship in this fashion.

Having known Ross since he became owner of the Dolphins -- and having developed a solid business relationship over the last year -- I would be stunned if indeed he took this approach with Bill Cowher. However, if this premature courtship proves to be true in any tangible fashion, Cowher should run far and fast from anything to do with the Dolphins.

But I don't believe that to be the case. Ross is not a malicious owner. He is, instead, often a naïve one. And that's a whole different set of circumstances for Cowher to consider.

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • However it happens, Cowher to Miami likely

This is the way the dance is done. Everything will be covert and kept hush-hush, but it's clear Tony Sparano has no future in Miami and Stephen Ross is going to get an A-list coach if at all possible.

It can be a long process and owners have to be intimately involved for the most part. Whether it's flying to Mexico or an island somewhere for a private meeting, it's not uncommon at all.

I expect Bill Cowher to be that guy. Jon Gruden is off the market, and Cowher would be the next top option there from everything I've heard. No doubt Jeff Fisher is a prime candidate for any job, but I have a hunch Cowher ends up in Miami.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Trust me: Cowher's not talking to anyone

No one spends more time with Bill Cowher than I do. We sat and watched college football Saturday and spent Sunday in the studio. He really likes the media end of the football business and feels like he's still close to the game. He is not pursuing any job at this time and would never talk with an owner of any team that already has a coach.

I'm not even sure he's ready to go back into coaching, but if he decides he wants to return to the field, the offseason is time enough. There are far to many people speculating on what Cowher is going to do without having any facts or real conversations with him on the subject.

I'll let you know if he changes his mind.

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  • Steve Wyche
  • This is how the game is played

No matter if this seems unethical, this is how things go. Every team -- every team -- has a list of potential candidates for coach, general manager and other jobs.

When things go the way they have in Miami, that's when agents and club representatives start dialogue with "people close to" their target. It's the safe, organizational play if you know there is going to be a coaching change. You take the temperature to see not only if prospects are interested but also if those candidates would want to make other organizational changes, such as fire the GM, clear out the entire staff and who his replacements might be. Then the organization has to decide if it's willing to do that.

It's clear that Sparano is on The Green Mile and will get bounced at some point, even if it's at the end of the season. So Miami wouldn't be doing anything wrong while doing its due diligence, if this is the case.

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  • Adam Rank
  • Dolphins should be looking elsewhere

Should Cowher be treading carefully with Ross? How about the other way around? Cowher in Miami conjures up memories of Jimmy Johnson's Dolphins era. There is a famous clip from the original "Ocean's 11" where Sam Harmon (played by Dean Martin) told the gang, "If you want to capture lighting in the bottle again, be my guest. Just don't try to capture yesterday."

And that is what the Dolphins and Cowher should do here. Now, Johnson's career was not tarnished by his stint with the Dolphins but it surely didn't help. (Plus, it gave Jerry Jones something to gloat about.) But Cowher does pretty well on television and he's good at it, so stick to that.

Ross should look to a more up-and-coming coach who will bring passion and fire to the team. Kind of the way Mike Tomlin has motivated the Steelers. I am always weary of retread coaches. Sure you can point to Bill Belichick, but most of the time you end up with Norv Turner.

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