Tony Sparano Calls 2011 Offseason Most Challenging of His Career Due to Dolphins’ Bungled Coaching Courtship


FOXBORO, Mass. — Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano wasn't shy about saying this past offseason was the most difficult one of his coaching career.

Miami ownership attempted to add a little more star power to the organization by publicly courting former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, who wound up signing a contract with the 49ers — all while Sparano was still under contract. The Dolphins' brass was criticized for its bungling of the situation, as well as for a news conference after the events to clarify their intentions.

When it was all said and done, Sparano received a contract extension, but many in the organization were embarrassed by the turn of events.

"Yeah, I would say so," Sparano replied Wednesday when asked if this was the most challenging offseason of his career. "I've never been through anything like it, so if you're asking me that, then yeah, it was pretty difficult. I don't think I've been through anything like it, and I don't know that there's been a lot of people that have. But that's over and done with, and we're moving on and we're getting ready to play the Patriots."

Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis defended Sparano on Wednesday, saying the players support him after Miami ownership put him through the ringer after the 2010 season.

"As players, we support coach Sparano because he's been here," Davis said. "That's a decision that the ownership makes. That's really out of my hands. But coach Sparano, we support the guy. He's a great coach to us, and we're ready to play for him."

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