Not to write off Harbaugh’s college achievements, but there are a few points to take into consideration. The University of San Diego is in the Pioneer Football Division, which besides the University of Dayton, lacks any competition. San Diego State has led the division 3 of the last 6 seasons. It is division 1 of course, but the bottom of the barrel.
Stanford, on the other hand has collegiate competition and a strict regiment required of its athletes – to withstand a 3.8 GPA at an Ivy League level. But would Harbaugh have the same success without quarterback Andrew Luck, who was to be the first draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft and is said to have the highest rating of any quarterback to come out of college ever? You could argue that Harbaugh developed Luck into the caliber QB he is today. But with all that said, it’s still college and it’s only 7 years of head coaching.
Then there’s the multitude of college coaches who made the transition to the NFL without success. There’s Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, Rich Brooks, Mike Riley and Bobby Petrino, just to name a few. Barry Switzer, who won himself a pity Super Bowl in Jimmy Johnson’s shadow, is another. With the exception of Johnson in Dallas and for a short period of present time, Pete Caroll, the NFL is not the fountain of youth for college coaches. From our own attrition, Johnson and mostly Saban were the Miami Dolphins own self-and-point home brewed college coach disasters. Ross has yet to live through that coaching experience yet.
The AFC East is a hostile environment for a rookie coach with no NFL experience too. With an up and coming New York Jets team and a young and brilliantly coached New England Patriot team as competition, Harbaugh might have bitten off to much his first time around. Besides, Miami Dolphin fans and Ross himself, are expecting instant gratification in a coach the way they’re wired to think every new QB is to be the second coming of Dan Marino over night. When you’re hopeless, you become unrealistic.
Believe it or not, Sparano gives the Dolphins their best chance of winning next season over Harbaugh. His two biggest ailments this season (the offensive coordinator and QB) will be replaced this offseason. If Sparano hires a younger 21st century smart and savvy offensive coordinator and a veteran quarterback, next season will not be a total wash. Remember he hired Mike Nolan to defensive coordinator and lifted a bottom place defense to a top place defense. Dan Henning, who was out of touch with his offense, particularly Chad Henne, was also out of touch with the NFL. He was lost in the past, reliving the impulsive wins brought on by the wildcat like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Without the wildcat and Parcells, Henning is a one and done coach in Miami.
Before any pursuit of Harbaugh manifested for Ross, Sparano was only to be trumped by Cowher. Fact is, this is the NFL, the not for long league. I sympathized with Miami fans and Ross during a frustrating kamikaze tail end bruising this season to blow a playoff ticket. Ross was right to kick around new coaching options like Cowher, but Harbaugh is not the answer. Remove the glittery packaging that comes with media darling Harbaugh along with his handsome good looks and charisma and what do you have? A successful but ordinary college coach. The NFL is a different landscape, a different territory and a 35-man roster world where players get paid to play. Not a 100-student athlete college team you give special privileges to.
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