Thursday, December 20, 2007
Can the Big Tuna Rescue the Dolphins?
I will never accuse Wayne Huizenga of not caring enough about his team. With Bill Parcells on the verge of signing a contract for a front office job with the Atlanta Falcons, Huizenga swooped in and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. When it was over, Parcells was signed, sealed and delivered to the Dolphins. He is now the Dolphins Vice President in charge of football operations.
If you're a Dolphins fan, you have to be ecstatic. Parcells' track record speaks for itself. As a head coach, he led the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl titles in 1986 and 1990. He led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in 1996. He also led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game in 1998. In just the last few years, he took a losing Dallas Cowboys team and has built it into the Super Bowl contender it is today. There is one common denominator to all of Parcells's jobs. He made every franchise he worked for better.
But Parcells will have his work cut out for him in Miami. This time he will be asked to rebuild a franchise that is in complete shambles. Never has he inherited a team in such bad shape. What's also different is this time he will not be the head coach. He will be making the personnel decisions, but not from the sidelines. Whoever coaches the Dolphins next year will have to swallow their ego and answer to the man known as "The Big Tuna".
For now, that man is Cam Cameron. But what is Cameron's future? My first reaction was this will probably be the end of Cameron as Dolphins head coach. Usually when changes are made in the front office, head coaches are replaced in favor of someone who fits the philosophy of the new management. But an intersting factor could keep Cameron in Miami. Parcells is a good friend of legendary and volatile college basketball coach Bob Knight. It just so happens, Cameron played basketball for Knight at Indiana University and got his first coaching job as a graduate assistant at Michigan thanks to a recommendation from Bob Knight to then Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler.
Now it's hard to imagine that Cameron could keep his job just because of Bob Knight. But don't underestimate Knight's close ties to Parcells and Cameron. There's a tremendous amount of mutual respect between Parcells and Knight. Right now Cameron is hanging on by a thread to keep his job. Had it not been for Greg Camarillo's overtime touchdown against the Ravens, the Dolphins would have likely gone winless this season. I doubt Cameron could have kept his job if the Dolphins finished 0-16.
The man who has the most to lose is general manager Randy Mueller. Let's face it. Parcells's job is to repair the mess created by Mueller and his predecessor Rick Speilman. Their horrible personnel decisions and blunders have sent Dolphins down to the dregs of football. Bottom line, Mueller better start packing his bags and cleaning out his desk.
While I'm excited about the Parcells hire, part of me has seen this act before. Just a decade ago, Huizenga hired Jimmy Johnson to be the savior of the franchise. But instead of taking the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl, Johnson's legacy will be remembered for his clash of egos with Dan Marino and his inability to improve the Dolphins offense. By his final year as head coach, Johnson had grown tired of coaching and retired for good in the Keys. More recently, Nick Saban was hired two years ago to be the savior. Well, we all know what happened with that experiment.
The truth is Parcells is 66 years old. He also has a history of heart problems. How much energy does he have left? This is not going to be a quick fix. It will take extraordinary time and dedication to put this franchise back on top. Parcells is a proven winner. But will that be enough to make Miami a winner again? We shall see.