Posted: 1:50 pm Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross clears the air, admits mistakes, awards Tony Sparano contract through 2013 season 

By Post Staff

From left: Tony Sparano, Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland explained the events of the last week and promised to turn the Dolphins around for 2011

From left: Tony Sparano, Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland explained the events of the last week and promised to turn the Dolphins around for 2011

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano met with the media for about 40 minutes on Saturday to clear the air about all the “rumors and innuendo,” as Ross put it, that emerged this week about the team’s search for a head coach.

Tons of material to get to today. Here is pretty much everything you need to know:

The first order of business: Ross said he is “committed” to Sparano and awarded him a 2-year contract extension for his troubles, which will keep the coach under contract with the Dolphins through the 2013 season.

The other important bullet points from Saturday’s press conference and a video report after the jump:


* The Dolphins will be looking for a new offensive coordinator. Dan Henning, who held the job for the past three years, will not be retained. His offense finished 30th in points scored in 2010.

* Ireland promised that several changes will be made to the roster and coaching staff — almost all on the offensive side of the ball — but did not get into specifics other than Henning. Ross emphasized that the goal for 2011 is to employ an aggressive, exciting brand of offensive football that will put points on the board and fans in the seats.

* Ross said he never made Jim Harbaugh an official contract offer, and that after having “a really good conversation” on Thursday, actually advised Harbaugh to return to Stanford. Reports stated that Ross was willing to offer Harbaugh between $7-8 million per year. Harbaugh ultimately signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the 49ers. “If I offered Harbaugh the job at those dollar amounts, he sure signed for a lot less,” Ross said.

* Ross admitted that he was infatuated with Harbaugh because he, like Ross, is a “Michigan guy.”

* Ross admitted on several occasions to being “naive” about owning an NFL team and not knowing proper protocol for interviewing and hiring coaches. Ross admitted he never should have spoken with a head coach candidate without firing the current one first. “I’ve never been through this process,” Ross said. “I never thought this would be national news.”

* Ross said that he was flying out to California on Thursday anyway for a business meeting for his real estate company, and that since he’d already be out there, he set up a meeting with Harbaugh “without telling Tony.” Sparano said the main thing that upset him this week was the lack of communication.

* Ross said no one in the Dolphins organization, or anyone even affiliated with the tie (i.e. Carl Peterson), ever contacted Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher. He emphasized the word “ever.”

* Ross also said Peterson “had absolutely no impact on the Miami Dolphins” and did not make the trip with Ross to California.

* Ireland said what happened with Sparano this week is no different than what the football bosses do with their players each day. “We did our due diligence in an attempt to improve our football team,” Ireland said. Once Harbaugh gave the impression he wasn’t sure he was ready to take the Dolphins’ job, they decided Sparano was the best man for the job.

* Ireland, too, admitted that things weren’t handled the right way this week. “There’s no doubt in my mind the lines of communication should have been handled differently,” he said.

* Ireland also said he supported Sparano from the beginning, and only went to California to meet with Harbaugh at Ross’ request. “In the beginning and in the end of all of this, I believe that Tony Sparano is the right football coach for this football team,” he said. “I’ve always felt that, that has never changed.”

* Sparano said at this point, it’s no longer productive to place blame on Ross or Ireland or stay angry with them. “We don’t place blame, we solve problems.”

* Sparano didn’t mention any candidates to become his new offensive coordinator, but said “we’re gonna try to move on that really fast.”

* And Ross denied having an interest in hiring former Jets and Browns coach Eric Mangini, though the two did meet. Ross said that Dawn Aponte, the team’s senior vice president of football operations who spent the 2009 season with Cleveland, told Ross that Mangini wanted to speak with him, but “not about coaching,” Ross said. “Knowing his reputation as being a bright, brilliant football mind, I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to talk with him.”

* Ross’ send-off to the fans: “I will deliver a winner. That is my commitment.”


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