Dolphins' interest turns to Carroll


Published: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

MIAMI — Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga's travel itinerary suggests he's trying to lure Southern California coach Pete Carroll back to the NFL.

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Southern California head coach Pete Carroll celebrates Chris McFoy's (82) third quarter touchdown against Michigan at the 93rd Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2007.

The Associated Press

Carroll has been on vacation in Costa Rica, and a Huizenga-owned plane flew there Sunday, then returned to Fort Lauderdale, according to flight records. The same plane was used to take Dolphins officials to Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Diego, Jacksonville and Minneapolis to interview candidates to replace Nick Saban.

A Dolphins spokesman declined to say whether Huizenga met with Carroll. USC spokesman Tim Tessalone said Carroll was expected to return from vacation Tuesday.

"Pete hasn't gotten back, so I don't have any information to share with you," Tessalone said.

In the 1990s, Carroll coached the New York Jets for one season and the New England Patriots for three before being fired. As recently as last week, he denied rumors he wanted to return to the pros.

If the 55-year-old Carroll is interested in the Dolphins job, he would become the front-runner. He led the Trojans to a fifth consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearance this season and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He's 65-12 with two national titles in six seasons at Southern California.

The Dolphins interviewed two candidates Monday: their defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, and Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

Capers was interviewed in Jacksonville, where he was on vacation. He coached expansion teams in Carolina and Houston and has a career record of 48-80.

Since Saban left last week for Alabama, Miami has interviewed at least six other candidates: former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and two Chicago Bears assistants, defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

Gailey, a former offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, said Monday there was nothing new to report in the coaching search.

"I'm one of the guys in the running," he said. "We'll see where it goes."

The Dolphins' experience with Saban might make them less likely to hire a college coach. He came to Miami from Louisiana State and left after two seasons, deciding he preferred the SEC to the NFL.

Carroll is one of the highest-paid coaches in college, but Huizenga last week said: "I don't care what it takes, what it costs, what's involved. We're going to make this a winning franchise."

The Dolphins have failed to make the playoffs the past five seasons, a team record.

A message left on Carroll's cell phone wasn't returned, and his agent didn't return calls seeking comment.

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