Ross: No offer made to Harbaugh

The Miami Dolphins lost the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes to the 49ers, so now team owner Stephen Jackson is practicing revisionist history. He claims he didn't offer the head coaching job to Harbaugh.

The San Francisco 49ers, not the Miami Dolphins, won the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes, and you know what that means. Dolphins owners Stephen Ross has gone into full damage-control mode.

In a round-table press conference Saturday, and later in a letter he sent to season-ticket holders (and published on the team's Web site), Ross makes two claims. See if you believe either of them.

One, he never made an offer to Harbaugh to coach the 49ers, an offer that would have made him the highest-paid coach in the NFL.

Two, he advised Harbaugh to return to Stanford.

In his letter to fans, Ross said he and general manager Jeff Ireland met with Harbaugh on Thursday and let him know soon after that they would not pursue their discussion with the then-Stanford coach.

"To be clear, I made no offer to Jim Harbaugh," Ross claimed. "Reports to the contrary and the associated outrageous financial terms that were rumored with those reports were completely inaccurate. We never spoke to any other coaching candidates, including Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden or any other names that have been rumored to be a candidate."

In his session with reporters, Ross said, "I know (Harbaugh) wanted to go to the NFL but he wasn't exactly sure. He asked me, ‘What should I do?' I recommended, ‘Go back to Stanford and hitch yourself to the quarterback (Andrew Luck). You got the best quarterback, you can win a national championship, the pros will be there — I'd go out as soon as he goes out because you want to go out a winner.'"

If we read that right, Ross is somehow transforming himself from suitor to coaching counselor. Sounds like revisionist history, and it's doubtful anyone – especially Dolphins fans – will believe it.

In fact, Ross made several mistakes. He interviewed a candidate while he still had a head coach, and he failed to interview a minority coach, which is required under the Rooney Rule. With current Dolphins coach Tony Sparano twisting in the wind, Ross may have realized he should leave things as they were. More likely, he was rebuffed by Harbaugh.

Here's what we'd like to know: If Ross was simply interested in gauging Harbaugh's interest in the Dolphins, why not do it in a telephone call? Then, if Harbaugh expressed an interest, he could have sent Ireland to San Francisco to make a meaningful offer.

Ross expressed surprise that his every move was reported on the Internet and in print, and that's more than likely the reason he's rewriting his story.

The 49ers may have their problems, but Harbaugh is probably better off staying in the Bay Area.


Niners Digest Top Stories