With the Miami Dolphins apparently in the midst of a total implosion, it was only a matter of time before someone began whispering about the future of head coach Tony Sparano. Well, today Greg Cote dropped the bomb that a source tells him Sparano's job might be in trouble, but only if Jon Gruden wants it.
It seems everything Bill "Big Tuna" Parcells tried to build in Miami turned out to be a flop. After initial success in 2008, the team has floundered in mediocrity. Following a deadly strain of the injury bug, along with a string of head-scratching coaching decisions, the Fins sit at 5-5 with a miracle needed to salvage the season, and will likely face another off-season of restructuring.
Here's Cote's take on the rumor:
I am told by a source that Gruden -- former Raiders and Bucs coach-turned-broadcaster, and a Super Bowl winner -- holds the imagination of the Dolphins' celebrity-driven owner Stephen Ross.
This is second-hand, and speculative. It is why, frankly, I am understating this in a Friday-page NFL column rather than making a bigger splash of it. But I also will say this: The Dolphins source who stressed Ross' fascination with Gruden is the same source who, months before the 2009 draft, told me -- accurately -- that Bill Parcells was fascinated with quarterback Pat White, who later was drafted in the second round.
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Cote can understate things all he wants, but of course the Internet will run with the rumor.
No one believes that Gruden, only 47 years old, has retired completely from the sidelines, though he has reportedly settled nicely into family life in Florida. He also has a cushy gig at Monday Night Football (though not everyone is crazy about his broadcasting ability). But his name comes up every time there's an opening in the coach's office.
Does Ross actually think Gruden can turn the Fins around (let's remember, the Bucs fired him for a reason), or is the "celebrity-driven owner" more obsessed with capturing the boldest name available?