Shutdown Corner - NFL

It's all going according to plan for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. Intent on turning his team into the NFL's version of the Los Angeles Lakers, Ross is close to making the splashiest coaching hire of the offseason and having Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh bring his talents to South Beach.

There's only one problem: The Miami Dolphins already have a head coach.

Despite all the breathless reports from South Beach that the Dolphins are close to inking Harbaugh to a massive deal worth as much as $8 million per season, there's still the little matter that current coach Tony Sparano hasn't been fired yet. Some of his assistants have already left the building, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole, but Sparano is still there, left without an answer by his owner and general manager Jeff Ireland, who seem to think that they can go back to Sparano if all their high-profile targets spurn them. It's a sleazy, classless move by both. It also doesn't make any sense.

[Related: ESPN announcer fired over 'sweet baby' comment]

Let's say Harbaugh goes to the San Francisco 49ers, Bill Cowher goes to Carolina and Jon Gruden stays in the ESPN booth. What then? Does Ross think Sparano will have any power in the Dolphins locker room after his players watched him get completely undermined in the offseason? If you want someone else to coach the team, fine. But there's no need to use Sparano as a helpless pawn in the matter.

He can't quit, lest he lose the reported $2.5 million he's owed next season. And he can't say anything for fear of undercutting his reputation even more or giving Ross/Ireland even more cause to fire him (the 1-7 home record in 2010 did enough). So Tony Sparano is left hanging in the Miami wind, a jilted employee waiting for his bosses to bring home the next hot thing.

[Rewind: Tense moment between NFL coaches]

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