College

Harbaugh Meets With NFL’s Dolphins, But No Deal

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Jim Harbaugh

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Stanford Cardinal looks on after Stanford won 40-12 against the Virginai Tech Hokies during the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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SAN JOSE (CBS 5 / AP) ― Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh’s blowout victory in the Orange Bowl made a big impression on Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Harbaugh met Thursday with Ross in the Bay Area about the Dolphins’ coaching job, sources with knowledge of the confidential meeting said.

Ross flew from his home in New York to San Jose for the visit. Sources said there was no agreement as of mid-afternoon and Ross’ plane left San Jose a short time later for Florida.

ESPN later reported that Tony Sparano would remain Miami’s coach, despite a late-season collapse by the Dolphins that had put his job in jeopardy.

Harbaugh had met Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers about their coaching vacancy; he may also consider other NFL suitors as well and hasn’t ruled out remaining at Stanford.

While Stanford could lose Harbaugh, Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck opted to stay in college to get his degree instead of immediately cashing in on the riches of being the likely No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Luck announced his decision Thursday.

Harbaugh had returned Tuesday night to the Bay Area following Stanford’s 40-12 Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in the stadium Ross owns. Ross, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee and general manager Jeff Ireland were on the Stanford sideline before the game.

Harbaugh was a star quarterback at Michigan, which also has a coaching vacancy. But Wolverines athletic director Dave Brandon has said he expects Harbaugh to take an NFL job.

Ross is also a Michigan graduate and a major contributor to the university. The school of business carries his name.

Landing Harbaugh will require a significant financial commitment. New Denver Broncos chief football executive John Elway has said he hopes to interview Harbaugh for their job, and new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is looking for a coach to replace Mike Singletary, who was recently fired.

If Harbaugh had reached an agreement with the Dolphins, he would’ve become their sixth coach since 2004. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1984.

Sparano has a year left on his contract and has been working this week at the team’s complex in Davie, Florida. When he took an afternoon walk Thursday, he encountered a cluster of media staking out the facility.

“You guys need to find a better hobby,” Sparano said.

Miami decided to make courting Harbaugh its first priority, and he was the only candidate they were known to have interviewed.

He’s 58-27 overall as a college coach and 29-21 in four seasons at Stanford. He took over a 1-11 team when he was hired in December 2006 and quickly transformed the program. The Cardinal set a school record for victories this season by going 12-1.

Harbaugh played 15 seasons in the NFL for the Bears, Colts, Ravens, Chargers and Panthers. He also has NFL coaching experience — he was the Raiders’ quarterbacks coach in 2002-03, then spent three seasons as head coach at the University of San Diego.

Harbaugh’s brother, John, is the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, who are in the AFC playoffs.

Ross said before the season he expected the Dolphins to reach the Super Bowl. Instead, for the eighth time in nine years they failed to reach the playoffs, losing their final three games to finish 7-9.

They endured a 38-7 drubbing at New England on Sunday and lost at home in December to three sub-.500 teams. Their 1-7 home record matched the worst in franchise history.

Sparano, who led Miami to that lone postseason berth in 2008, has a three-year record of 25-23.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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