The wish list

Now that the dust has begun to settle in the aftermath of Dave Wannstedt's resignation, the list of potential candidates to replace him on a full-time basis next season already has been taking shape. But who would make the best candidate?

To start off, here are the names that have been mentioned as possible replacements: LSU head coach Nick Saban, Philadelphia offensive coordinator Brad Childress, New England offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, University of California head coach Jeff Tedford, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, Baltimore senior consultant Jim Fassel, USC head coach Pete Carroll, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

That is indeed quite a list. Interim head coach Jim Bates isn't considered to have much of a shot, although team president Eddie Jones said this week he would be a candidate.

Jones also said the Dolphins had no intention to talk to Steve Spurrier, and Spurrier himself said he didn't want to coach in the NFL anymore.

So there you have it.

Now, the Dolphins also will be in the market for a new team president in the offseason, with Jones confirming this week he is retiring.

GM Rick Spielman then said he had been assured by owner Wayne Huizenga that he would be back in his capacity next season.

Well, to quote someone on TV, not so fast, my friend.

Jones came back to point out that Spielman's job security isn't guaranteed. For example, the Dolphins will not let their search for a coach or president be undermined by the presence of a GM already in place. That means that if Coach "Y" says he wants the job but wants to have authority over personnel decisions, Spielman might be out of luck. The same if person "Z" is coveted as team president, but he wants to bring in his own guy and he's going to be making personnel decisions anyway.

The bottom line in all of this is that Spielman was premature in declaring his job security because, frankly, it's still less than 50-50 he'll be back in the same capacity next year.

OK, back to our original discussion. Who's the best candidate out there.

What you hear a lot is that Saban is clearly the best coaching candidate. Indeed, he's got a lot of things going for him, among them having just won a national title last year and having worked under Coach Bill Belichick as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns.

Saban also is friends with New England personnel wonder boy Scott Pioli, who is said to be interested in the Miami job and who would be a great hire.

So a combination of Pioli and Saban would appear to be a nice coup.

The only reservation from this end is that Saban's background is on defense, and we simply can't stomach another defensive-oriented, conservative approach after four years of Jimmy Johnson and four and a half more of Dave Wannstedt.

This is not to say that Saban would coach conservatively i the NFL, but there is that danger.

From that perspective, Fassel is very inviting because of his offensive background. The danger with him is that his players quit on him last year.

The track record is pretty good with offensive coaches with no head-coaching experience -- think Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren, Steve Mariucci -- so we'll suggest the way to go here is Charlie Weis or Brad Childress.

So, neither has ever been an NFL head coach before. So what?

At the very least, they might make things interesting around South Florida for a change.

Of course, maybe Jim Bates' intense approach will produce positive results in the final weeks of this forgettable and he will deserve to get a shot on a full-time basis.

The way the Dolphins have been going, he would deserve as much.

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