Sparano meets with Dolphins again

MIAMI, FL -- A touchdown by the front-runner for the Miami Dolphins' head coaching job suggests he may be about to seal the deal.

Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano landed Tuesday evening in Fort Lauderdale aboard a jet belonging to Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga for a second interview with the team's new regime.

Sparano was accompanied on the flight from Dallas by new general manager Jeff Ireland. They met for an interview in Dallas on Jan. 5.

After arriving in South Florida, Sparano had dinner with Huizenga and Ireland. Further talks with Huizenga and new Dolphins boss Bill Parcells are scheduled Wednesday, and Sparano will then likely become Miami's fifth coach since 2004.

A team spokesman declined to comment.

The 46-year-old Sparano became available for hire when the Cowboys lost their playoff game Sunday to the New York Giants. He has been the favorite for the Dolphins job since they fired Cam Cameron after he went 1-15 in his first year as an NFL head coach.

Sparano worked with Parcells and Ireland when they were in Dallas.

The Dolphins also interviewed Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But none of them have direct ties to Ireland or Parcells, and Ireland has said it's important that he and Parcells be familiar with the new coach.

Sparano also interviewed for head jobs with the Ravens and Atlanta Falcons.

The Dolphins have repeatedly tapped the Dallas pipeline since the arrival of Parcells, the Cowboys' coach in 2003-06. Former Dallas assistant David Lee was hired as quarterbacks coach, and on Tuesday, Brian Gaine was hired as assistant director of player personnel after three years as the Cowboys' assistant director of pro scouting.

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. He was promoted to assistant head coach last February.

His only head coaching experience was at New Haven in 1994-98.

Miami's search has been much less extensive than a year ago, when at least a dozen coaches were interviewed and Huizenga traveled as far as Costa Rica to meet with potential candidates.

The Dolphins are coming off the worst season in team history. They lost their first 13 games and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, extending a franchise record.