MIAMI GARDENS (AP) — Even before the Miami Dolphins fired Tony Sparano on Monday, names of potential successors were being bandied about.
Bill Cowher? Jeff Fisher? Jon Gruden?
“I'd like to find a young Don Shula if that's possible,” owner Stephen Ross said.
It's no wonder Ross craves some stability. Since Shula retired in 1996, no coach has made it through five full seasons in Miami.
That includes Sparano, fired three games from the end of his fourth season and one day after the Dolphins lost to the Philadelphia Eagles to fall to 4-9. The defeat ended a recent surge by the Dolphins after they lost their first seven games.
With two other NFL teams already in the market for a new coach, Ross didn't want to wait any longer to start shopping. Sparano's dismissal came hours after the Kansas City Chiefs fired coach Todd Haley. Jacksonville fired coach Jack Del Rio on Nov. 29.
Dolphins General manager Jeff Ireland's status had also been in question but he'll be retained and take part in the coaching search, Ross said.
Todd Bowles, who had been assistant head coach and secondary coach, becomes interim head coach. He's the sixth coach since 2004 for the Dolphins, who haven't won a playoff game since 2000 and haven't reached the Super Bowl since 1984.
The Dolphins play Sunday at Buffalo but they're already assured of their third consecutive losing season, the longest such streak since the 1960s.
“The results speak for themselves,” Ross said at a hastily called news conference.
Photo: Todd Bowles