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. They worked together with the Cowboys when Parcells was head coach from 2003-06.
Sparano becomes the Dolphins’ fifth head coach since 2004. Parcells 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 Sunday to the New York Giants. He has been the front-runner for the Dolphins job since the start of their search.
Sparano arrived at the team complex Wednesday morning wearing a suit and accompanied by new Miami general manager Jeff Ireland. Owner Wayne Huizenga soon joined them, then left about an hour later.
Ireland, who spent the past seven years in player personnel with the Cowboys, first interviewed Sparano in Dallas on Jan. 5.
The Dolphins also interviewed Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But none of them has direct ties to Ireland or Parcells, and Ireland has said it’s important that he and Parcells be familiar with the new coach.
Sparano also interviewed for head jobs with the Ravens and Atlanta Falcons, but he had been widely expected to join the Dolphins. The New Haven (Conn.) Register, citing an unidentified source, reported Jan. 5 that Sparano was offered the job and would accept it after the Cowboys’ season.
Sparano is a native of New Haven, Conn. 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.