Dolphins considering Mike Shula as coach
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 1:30 a.m.
MIAMI - The latest candidate to emerge for the Miami Dolphins' coaching job has a big edge in name recognition: He's a Shula.
Mike Shula interviewed for the job Saturday and is one of at least five candidates still under consideration, the Dolphins said Tuesday. Shula's dad, Don, coached the Dolphins for 26 years, holds the NFL record with 347 victories and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
''Mike is a very, very highly qualified person,'' Dolphins chief executive officer Joe Bailey said on his weekly radio show. ''He's got a lot of his dad in him - very, very smart, very assertive, very firm.''
Hiring the younger Shula would mean a swap of coaches with Alabama. He was fired by the Crimson Tide in November and replaced by Nick Saban, who left the Dolphins on Jan. 3 after two seasons.
Other remaining candidates to replace Saban: former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora, Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers and San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
Capers interviewed for the head coaching job, then agreed to a new three-year contract as defensive coordinator last week. His defensive unit ranked fourth in the NFL this season.
''He remains in consideration for the head job,'' Dolphins president Bryan Wiedmeier said. ''We're very fortunate to have him in our organization.''
The Dolphins also met with Cameron during the first round of interviews and have since been in contact with his agent.
''He's an outstanding football mind, probably one of the more innovative football minds in the game today,'' Wiedmeier said.
The Dolphins have met with at least 13 candidates, and that list could grow. There's speculation Miami will pursue Marty Schottenheimer if he's fired by the San Diego Chargers, who were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday.
''If a candidate surfaced today that we felt was compelling and that was the right person, certainly we would consider that,'' Wiedmeier said.
Among those no longer under consideration is Schottenheimer's son, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The younger Schottenheimer, at 33 Miami's youngest candidate, withdrew from consideration Monday.
''There are very few people ... that would have the maturity to say to themselves - which is what he has said - 'I don't think at this point, either from a professional or a personal standpoint, that I'm ready to take the next step,''' Bailey said.
The Dolphins apparently believe the 41-year-old Shula might be ready to become an NFL head coach. He went 26-23 in four years at Alabama, but 0-4 against Southeastern Conference rival Auburn.
The Crimson Tide fired him after they went 6-6 during the 2006 regular season. Shula said he left Alabama in better shape than the program he inherited, which was weakened by NCAA sanctions.
In a statement released by the Dolphins, Don Shula endorsed his son's candidacy.
''Everywhere he has coached, Mike has exhibited class, integrity and enthusiasm, all critical ingredients to run a successful program,'' the elder Shula said. ''He has spent his entire life around the game and understands what it takes to build a winner. He has a special feeling about the Dolphin organization and truly appreciates the opportunity to talk to the team's management about the future of the franchise.''
Mike Shula was a Dolphins ballboy when his dad coached the team. He has spent 15 years as an NFL assistant, most recently in 2000-02 as Miami's quarterbacks coach.
''He clearly has a track record of success when he was here, but also elsewhere as an assistant coach before he went to the University of Alabama,'' Bailey said.
Don Shula has advised management during the search, as has Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
''Coach Shula's opinion is something that we hold in high regard. He has given us his opinion of a number of our candidates,'' Wiedmeier said. ''Danny has been a great resource. I don't think anybody has any more passion for us to succeed than Dan.
''Think about all the people that Dan knows, and all the people Coach Shula knows. These are the people we look to and get advice from.''
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