Dallas assistant Sparano interviews with Dolphins

MIAMI (AP) -- The front-running candidate to become the Miami Dolphins' coach was also the first to interview. And his lead may be insurmountable.

Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano interviewed Saturday in Dallas with new Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who was hired away from the Cowboys this week. The Dolphins declined to say whether executive vice president of football operations Bill Parcells also took part.

The New Haven (Conn.) Register, citing an unidentified source, reported Saturday night that Sparano was offered the job and will accept it at the conclusion of Dallas' season. Sparano is a New Haven native and former University of New Haven player and coach.

Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene called the report "100 percent false. In fact, we have a number of interviews scheduled in the next few days."

At least two candidates are scheduled to interview early next week, including Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Other possible candidates include Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Jacksonville assistant head coach Mike Tice and Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The Dolphins fired Cam Cameron on Thursday after he went 1-15 in his first year as an NFL head coach. The new head coach will be their fifth since 2004.

The Dolphins met first with Sparano in part because he's off-limits for interviews beginning Sunday. He can't be interviewed again until the Cowboys either lose in the playoffs or reach the open week before the Super Bowl on Jan. 21-27.

Sparano also interviewed Saturday with the Baltimore Ravens, as did Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Sparano and Garrett interviewed Friday with the Atlanta Falcons.

Ireland has stressed that he and Parcells want to hire a coach they know who shares their philosophy. The 46-year-old Sparano was hired by Parcells in Dallas in 2003 as tight ends coach, became offensive line coach in 2005 and called plays for Parcells in 2006.

Sparano was promoted to assistant head coach last February. His only head coaching experience was at New Haven in 1994-98.


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