Reports: Dolphins woo Jim Harbaugh

Updated: January 5, 2011, 1:41 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tony Sparano is still the Miami Dolphins' coach, but the team reportedly has reached out to former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh, with plenty of suitors coming his way, returned to the Bay Area from Miami earlier Tuesday evening with a 40-12 Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. The Cardinal finished 12-1.

Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland, owner Stephen Ross and CEO Mike Dee were in attendance at the Orange Bowl, according to reports.

Meanwhile, a source close to Cowher told ESPN Senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen on Dec. 19 that the longtime Steelers coach has the Dolphins atop his coaching wish list. The source said Cowher was willing to return to the NFL after four years in broadcasting but only for a select number of teams.

The Houston Texans and New York Giants also were on the list, the source said, but both of those teams chose to retain their coaches for the 2011 season.

However, the Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins prefer to retain Ireland and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, while Cowher would want to hire his own assistants and choose his own GM.

Sparano met with Ross and Ireland after the season, but the coach remains in limbo after the Dolphins finished a second straight 7-9 season following a division title in the coach's rookie season.

Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, whose contract with Miami is up, expressed distaste for Sparano's micromanaging style Monday on a Miami radio station.

"A team takes on the personality of the head coach," Williams said. "I think the way we're coached, Tony goes through a lot of effort to show us the things that it takes to win football games: not turning the ball over, converting third downs, scoring in the red zone. He spent a lot of time saying, 'If you do these things, you win.' Sometimes, I feel like he does it a little bit too much.

"My personal opinion is, if you have the right attitude that 'You guys are going to win,' then all that other stuff takes care of itself."

Information from ESPN Senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN.com's Tim Graham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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