Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross Is Courting Bill Cowher Without Firing Sparano First, Making A Farce of the Rooney Rule

By Jason Lisk

We’ve seen what going behind the coach who is a lame duck has done for the Dolphins organization. They are a mess, and Sparano is pleading for his job to referees. He’s not actually going to quit in the face of being disrespected by his owner–who knows, maybe he will score another extension before being fired–but this situation is toxic.

Now the reports came out yesterday that Ross has approached Bill Cowher about coaching the team, and back channel communications are taking place. Let’s set aside that Ross has done this again, and set aside how it undercuts the organization even beyond when Sparano is long gone to have this kind of leadership. I mean, I don’t see what would have been so wrong with firing Sparano this week, then publicly being able to do an open search, even if you zero in on certain candidates. If Ross is cutting a back deal with Cowher while he still has a coach, there’s another layer.

The Rooney Rule.

We’ve seen some teams treat it seriously, and we’ve seen many good candidates actually get job opportunities or at least have a door opened because of the rule. We’ve also seen some teams treat it as a farce, usually without consequence. Bringing in one candidate when you have already interviewed the one you want just to satisfy the rule is one thing. Talking with a potential candidate, before firing the current one, to make sure a deal can be put in place, though, violates the Rule. They shouldn’t even have it if the league is not going to enforce it’s spirit in this case. The league was just over in London trumpeting the successes of the Rooney Rule to the English Premier League. Now one if its richest owners is making a mockery of the process by trying to secure a coach through back channels before even opening the position. I would hope that if this deal with Cowher does go down, that the league imposes a fine on Ross with some teeth. Couldn’t happen to a nicer or more competent owner.

[photo via Getty]