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Sparano reunited with Parcells, named Dolphins head coach

DAVIE, Fla. -- Tony Sparano is going to work for Bill Parcells again, this time as coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Sparano, who had been the Dallas Cowboys' assistant head coach, accepted a job offer Wednesday from new Miami boss Parcells. The two worked together with the Cowboys when Parcells was head coach in 2003-06.

"I've coached for a lot of people and worked for a lot of great coaches," Sparano said at a news conference. "Coach Parcells has taught me the most and prepared me the most for this job. ...

"I know Coach Parcells is here as a resource for me, and I'm going to use him as much as I can."

Sparano becomes the Dolphins' fifth head coach since 2004. Parcells, named the Dolphins executive vice president of football operations on Dec. 27, was on the job for only a week before he fired Cam Cameron, who went 1-15 in his first year as an NFL head coach.

The 46-year-old Sparano became available when the Cowboys lost their playoff game to the New York Giants on Sunday. He has been the front-runner for the Dolphins job since the start of their search.

"I'm prepared," Sparano said. "I'm confident in myself."

Sparano flew in from Dallas on Tuesday evening and had dinner with a group that included Parcells and Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga. Sparano arrived at the team complex on Wednesday morning accompanied by new Miami general manager Jeff Ireland. Huizenga soon joined them, and an hour later an agreement was reached.

Ireland, who spent the past seven years in player personnel with the Cowboys, first interviewed Sparano in Dallas on Jan. 5.

"When Bill and I discussed what we were looking for in a head coach, we talked about one of high character," Ireland said. "We wanted someone who understood how to develop young players, one who could instill a culture that's all about winning.

"We think we found that guy. We know we found that guy."

Parcells and Huizenga also attended the news conference but didn't talk to reporters.

Others interviewed by the Dolphins were Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But none of them could rival Sparano's ties to Parcells and Ireland.

"I know what the people here are capable of, and I'm excited about that," Sparano said. "I'm just happy to be part of the family."

Sparano also interviewed for head jobs with the Ravens and Atlanta Falcons, but he had been widely expected to join the Dolphins.

Sparano is a native of New Haven. His only head coaching experience was at New Haven in 1994-98. His team was NCAA Division II runner-up in 1997.

The Dolphins have repeatedly tapped the Dallas pipeline since the arrival of Parcells. Former Cowboys assistant David Lee was hired as quarterbacks coach, and on Tuesday, Brian Gaine was hired as assistant director of player personnel after three years as the Cowboys' assistant director of pro scouting.

Sparano joined Parcells in Dallas in 2003 as tight ends coach, became offensive line coach in 2005 and called plays for Parcells in 2006. He was promoted to assistant head coach last February.

Miami's search has been much less extensive than a year ago, when at least a dozen coaches were interviewed and Huizenga traveled as far as Costa Rica to meet with potential candidates.

The Dolphins are coming off the worst season in team history. They lost their first 13 games and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, extending a franchise record.

The coach's office became a revolving door in 2004, when Dave Wannstedt quit after nine games and was replaced by Jim Bates. Nick Saban became the coach in 2005, but lasted only two years before leaving for Alabama.

"I'm here because I believe I can handle this job," Sparano said. "I can't be concerned with what happened in the past."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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